Ripley’s with my 7 year old-Believe it or Not! by Dina Ramon
When it comes to previewing an entertainment excursion for my 7-year-old-daughter, I am usually pretty good about doing my research. I typically ask friends, check websites, find online reviews, or all of the above. But I recently bought, sight unseen, an online coupon for half-priced tickets for Ripley’s Believe It or Not in the heart of New York’s Times Square. It sounded good on paper and I had a basic idea of some of the freakish and bizarre stuff on display, even though I’ve never actually been there, but I found it to be a little too bizarre. I found myself cringing at some of exhibits and trying to steer my daughter in the other direction. My guard went up within 10 minutes, once we entered the “Torture Chamber.” I found the medieval contraptions fascinating but struggled to explain to my daughter why they contained spikes and harnesses intended to shred a victim’s key body parts, or directly skewer even more delicate ‘private parts.’ She just said, “oooh” but I don’t think she really got it. Then there were the graphic images of the guy who was nearly bitten in half by a shark but lived to tell about it, followed by x-rays and descriptions of people who have been stabbed in the head, and impaled by a pole. And don’t forget the Asian gentleman who has about a dozen swords piercing his lips. Yeh, believe it! The famous shrunken heads however, were no interest to her. She maybe looked at them for five seconds and moved on. Of course, you say, younger kids typically don’t have the patience to read the exhibit descriptions. So yes, I was bombarded with questions. But I tried. By the time I read it and came up with an answer my daughter could understand, she had already moved on – teaching opportunity over. How do you explain why women in some faraway country wear dozens of rings around their necks as a way to make them less attractive to potential suitors? I was able to explain why the 1,000+ pound man does not have fat feet but had to guess how he was able to get food if he was housebound. Ripley’s does have some cool, interactive exhibits that young children will want to do over and over like the laser game, virtual musical instruments, and the ‘black hole’ (which is likely to trigger serious motion sickness in “later” parents). Besides the fact that I was mentally exhausted afterwards, overall Ripley’s Believe It or Not was pretty harmless and my daughter is still talking about it. But if I had looked into it more thoroughly I probably would have waited a couple of years before I took her there.