By Don Douloff, October 2, 2008
“People are always looking for something different when planning their events,” says Michael Hirsch, general manager of Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Times Square, in New York City. “Well, it doesn’t get any more unique than hosting your event where guests will be amazed by their surroundings. We’re taking holiday parties out of the ballroom and bringing them into the unbelievable, where guests will be talking about their experience long after the event is over.”
Ripley’s aptly named Odditorium, situated in the heart of Times Square, on 42nd Street, displays hundreds of weird and unusual artifacts in more than 20 themed galleries spanning two floors. Whether examining a six-legged cow, a lock of Elvis’ hair, the world’s largest display of actual shrunken heads (24 in all), a section of the Berlin Wall or a life-size albino giraffe, this one-of-a-kind museum proves that fact is far stranger than fiction.
More than 500 artifacts are arrayed in themes that vary from human oddities, torture devices and bizarre art to presidential history and dinosaur fossils. Guests can get up-close-and-personal with hissing cockroaches, the three-time world-record holder for speed-talking and a man pounding 4-inch nails into his nose. Furthermore, dozens of interactive elements provide the opportunity to get hands-on – flipping the switch on an authentic electric chair, 3-D holographic videos, virtually playing obscure musical instruments and exploring touch-sensitive displays.
“There is a ton of flexibility for party planners,” says Hirsh. For instance, the venue offers human BIONS (Believe it or Nots), performers or individuals that planners can hire. As examples, Hirsch names Lizard Man, escape artists, human blockheads, eye bulgers, contortionists and Cat Man.
“Of course, one of the unique benefits is that there is already a built-in theme,” says Hirsch, who adds groups can also arrange guided tours and customized, Fear Factor-type food.
In addition, the museum offers multiple photo opportunities, “including Robert Wadlow, the world’s tallest man; the Gurner, a wax figure of the world-famous facial contortionist; and a New York high-rise beam, simulating the famous scene of workers sitting having lunch. If there are performers, they would also be available for photo opportunities,” says Hirsh.
The venue accommodates 50 to 1,300 people in 18,000 sq. ft. of event space configured in galleries ranging from 200 sq. ft. to nearly 3,000 sq. ft.