Believe it or not: Ripley’s oddities come to the Valley - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Believe it or not: Ripley’s oddities come to the Valley

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Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014 4:28 am

From an adventure within the bowels of titanoboa, the world’s largest snake, to a step-by-step procedure on how to shrink a human head, Arizona Science Center’s newest exhibit, “The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” has it all.

“Whether you love pop culture and art, space and astronauts, or the freaky stuff like tattooing and sword swallowing, there is a little bit of something for everyone,” says center spokeswoman Michele Meyer.

While the 50-foot replica of titanoboa was large enough to swallow most anything (i.e. a five-foot writer like me), a must-see piece is the life-size animatronic version of the world’s tallest man ever, Robert Wadlow.

Within minutes of getting lost among the ancient artifacts made entirely of human skin and even a skeleton of a two-headed calf, I was face-to-face — well, face-to-hip, really — with the nearly 9-foot-tall Wadlow.

“Compared to basketball players today, who we all believe are tall, like Shaq — they aren’t much compared to him,” says Meyer.

Historical Collections Curator David Rock describes how Wadlow is one of the main attractions of this Ripley’s exhibit. “Everyone wants to see him. The greatest thing about this piece is seeing how short you are and taking a photo next to him.”

If feeling small isn’t for you, take a glance at the Rolls Royce, a masterpiece known as the Silver Ghost.

“It is made completely out of matchsticks,” says Rock. “Part of this exhibit features the unbelieveable creations that people have made, (The rolls royce) is a historical piece done in a creative way.”

Other handcrafted pieces include a portrait of Albert Einstein composed of 440 pieces of torched toast, a sanctuary of sweets that make up a picture of Justin Bieber, and an image of the late Nelson Mandela fashioned with 5,340 coins.

An interactive feature at Ripley’s is inspired by the micro-sculptures of Willard Wigan. His scupltures not only sell for thousands of dollars to art collectors like Elton John, Prince Charles and Mike Tyson — but did I mention that they fit in the eye of a needle? In the activity, which is similiar to the game of Operation, visitors test their hand-eye coordination with a tiny prong.

“We are really trying to promote the fact that while a lot of the interactives are geared towards kids, the interesting aspects of this exhibit do appeal to all ages,” says Rock. “Everyone will have fun here, with the larger than life items that you really wouldn’t expect or see anywhere else.”

If you go

What: “The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” a hands-on exhibition that exposes the science behind oddities and anomamlies that are a part of the Ripley’s experience.

When: On display through May 4

Where: Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix

Cost: $21.95 for children, $28.95 for adults, $25.95 for seniors; includes general admission to the center.

Information: (602) 716-2000 or

• Cissy, a junior at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for GetOut. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or

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