Frequently Asked Questions about Robert Ripley and Ripley Entertainment Inc.

 Was there really a person named Robert Ripley?

Robert Leroy Ripley was born on Dec. 25, 1890 in Santa Rosa California. A talented self-taught artist, Ripley sold his first drawing to Life Magazine when he was only 18. He started working as an illustrator in 1909 in San Francisco and in late 1913 he left for New York City, where he landed a job with the New York Globe.

 How did he come up with the Believe It or Not! cartoon?

On a slow day in December 1918, while working as a sports cartoonist for the New York Globe, Ripley created his first collection of odd facts and feats. The sketches, based on unusual athletic achievements, were initially entitled “Champs or Chumps,” but after much deliberation, Ripley changed the title to Believe It or Not! The cartoon was an enormous instant success. The rest is history. At the height of its popularity in the 1930s, the cartoon was carried in more than 360 newspapers around the world, was translated into 17 different languages and had a daily readership of 80 million people.

Does the Believe It or Not! cartoon still appear in newspapers?

Today, the Ripley Believe It or Not! cartoons are printed in nearly 200 newspapers in 42 countries.  The cartoons are drawn by John Graziano, only the fifth person including Ripley himself, to draw it.   

Are the Believe It or Not! books still being published?

Yes, and they are more popular today than they’ve ever been. New editions of the oversize, 256 page annual book are released each August. Each has more than 2,500 entries, 500-plus color photos, and an amazing 3D, holographic front cover. Here’s a Believe It or Not!  If every Believe It or Not! book Ripley has published since 1929 was placed on top of each other, the stack would be 300 times taller than the Empire State Building in New York City.

Can anyone submit an idea to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!?

We get some of the craziest and most bizarre facts directly from the general public, so the answer is YES!  Please feel free to submit all your weird facts and oddities. Go to www.ripleys.com, and use the email response  to send us your ideas, or send to: Believe It or Not!, Ripley Entertainment, 7576 Kingspointe Parkway, Suite 188, Orlando, FL  32819. It needs to be true, and we need backup material proving that your submissions are factual. Our philosophy is the truth really is weirder than fiction and you can Believe It or Not!

Ripley is often referred to as the Modern Day Marco Polo, why?

Because he traveled to far away exotic lands. He especially loved the Asian countries. During his travels, from the mid-teens through the mid-1940s, Ripley visited more than 200 countries. To prove that the things he was writing about were true, he would often bring back hundreds of items from his travels. In the pre-television days, he felt having the genuine article would be the best proof of his outrageous, but absolutely true claims. Today, those exotic treasures form the heart of the greatest collection of oddities ever assembled.

When did the first Ripley attraction open?

He displayed his collection to the public for the first time at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. That first Ripley’s Odditorium attracted nearly 2 million visitors during the run of the fair. Based on the success of that first exhibition of his collection, trailer shows appeared throughout the country during the 1930s and the exhibits were the hits of many major fairs and expositions, including San Diego, Dallas, Cleveland, San Francisco and in 1939, an exhibit opened in New York City, on Broadway. That exhibit closed a year later and was moved to the World’s Fair in Queens.  In 1950, a year after Ripley died, the first permanent Odditorium opened in St. Augustine, Fla. It is still in business.

How many attractions does Ripley Entertainment have worldwide?

At the end of 2010, there were 85 different Ripley Entertainment attractions in 11 different countries – the United States, Canada, India, Korea, Kuwait, Australia, England, Mexico, Denmark, Malaysia, and Thailand. 

What kind of attractions make up the Ripley Entertainment family?

Ripley Entertainment operates a wide range of family attractions, including Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums, Ripley’s Aquariums,  Louis Tussaud’s Wax museums, Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini-Golf, Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini-Golf, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Ripley’s Moving Theatre, Guinness World Records Museums, Marvelous Mirror Mazes, Ripley’s Impossible LaseRace, and the “Red Trains” Sightseeing Trains in St. Augustine.

How popular are the attractions?

Each year, more than 13 million people visit Ripley’s attractions worldwide.

Does Ripley Entertainment have plans for expansion?

The company plans to grow through internal growth, acquisitions, and new attractions. Since mid-2007, Ripley Entertainment has opened many locations including the Believe It or Not! Odditorium on Times Square in New York City; a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum, a Louis Tussaud’s Wax Museum and a Mirror Maze in Bangalore, India; a brand new Believe It or Not! Museum in San Antonio, Texas; a Believe It or Not! in Veracruz, Mexico; a Louis Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Thailand; and the world’s largest Believe It or Not! Museum  in London. A new Believe It or Not! museum opened in Surfers Paradise, Australia in January 2010 and since then, Marvelous Mirror Mazes have opened in El Paso, Texas, Ocean City, Md., and in San Francisco as part of the newly renovated Believe It or Not! Odditorium. A new Ripley’s LaseRace opened in Ocean City, Md and a new Believe It or Not! Odditorium opened in December 2010 on Jeju Island, South Korea.

Is the television show with Dean Cain still on the air?

The show ran four seasons, from 2000, and is now in syndication throughout the world. In the U.S., it is still seen on the Biography channel.

Are there any plans for a new TV show?

Yes there is. It’s based on the amazing search for exhibit artifacts. But we can’t talk about it yet.

Is Ripley’s Believe It or Not! on the Radio?

In Fall 2009, Ripley’s returned to the radio airwaves 62 years after Robert Ripley left radio to become one of the pioneers of weekly television. Ripley Radio – An On-Demand Oddcast can be heard at www.ripleyoddcast.com.

What kind of things can be found inside the Believe it or Not! museums?

Many of the treasures that Ripley brought back from his many travels can be found in our museums, or odditoriums, as we like to call them. Each museum is unique in its architecture, its collection of oddities and their presentation. There is a careful balance between the strange and unbelievable, the shocking and the beautiful. There are works of art made from everyday objects, incredible collections, and samples of strange hobbies. There are exhibits from the world of science and illusions, hands-on interactive displays, videos and state of the art special effects, all set in exotic themed surroundings, including spooky graveyards, lush jungles, and medieval torture chambers.

Are the Haunted Adventures your basic haunted house?

There is nothing basic about anything the showmen at Ripley Entertainment do, including the Haunted Adventures. Each facility has several highly themed rooms, an extensive storyline, props and themes. Live actors work with the themed environment to serve up many of the chills. .

Are the Haunted Adventures year-round attractions?

You can be scared 365 days a year at the Haunted Adventures in Gatlinburg, Tenn. and in San Antonio, Texas. The Haunted Adventure in Myrtle Beach, S.C. is open only on weekends during the winter months. 

How long has Ripley been in the Haunted Adventures business?

The first one opened in Gatlinburg in 1999 and Myrtle Beach opened its creaky doors in 2001. San Antonio premiered in 2002, across from the Alamo.

When did the Ripley’s Aquariums open?  

The $40 million, 89,000 – square foot Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, S.C. opened in 1997.  Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, a beautiful $50 million, 115,000 square-foot facility in Gatlinburg, Tenn., opened in late 2000.

Have the two aquariums been successful?

They have been very successful. Both are in the Top Ten most visited aquariums in the United States each year and are both accredited by the prestigious American Zoo and Aquarium Assn. (AZA). Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tenn., was named the #1 Aquarium in the US in 2009 by Tripadvisor.com. Some of the best animal husbandry and aquarists in the country are employed by Ripley to operate our two aquariums. Since opening, each aquarium has entertained more than 13 million guests!

 What makes a Ripley Aquarium so different?

First of all, Ripley Aquariums are fully owned by Ripley Entertainment Inc. with no state, federal or local money involved. Secondly, Ripley is an entertainment company and knows how to combine entertainment with conservation and education to create a fun experience for the entire family.

What’s new at the Aquariums?

The $5 million Ripley’s Penguin Playhouse opened at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in March 2010 and features an indoor-outdoor natural habitat for the African penguins. The famous Weeki Wachee Mermaids  performed at both aquariums during 2010 –  in Myrtle Beach, July 23-25; in Gatlinburg, Aug. 6-9.

Did the world really need more miniature golf courses?

It needed Ripley-style courses, yes. As in everything the company does, Ripley stepped outside the box to create its first miniature golf course, Davy Crockett Mini-Golf in Gatlinburg, Tenn. July 2002.  It’s one of the most interactive courses in the world. Animated crows belittle you as you putt, and animals pop-up and start singing and talking when you least expect. The company’s second course, the 56-hole Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini-Golf, opened in March 2005 in Sevierville, Tenn.

What’s with the Marvelous Mirror Mazes?

These are not your grandfather’s mirror mazes! Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze is a totally new concept in amusement design that provides a different experience every time you enter. Featuring nearly 2,000 square feet of mirrored paths, surprising corners, dead ends and continuous circles, the sound and lighting effects make the experience even more daunting. Unlike mazes of the past, this one offers multiple paths throughout and adventurers can begin at the end and work their way through backward if they wish.  Made entirely of highly reflective mirrors, guests can take their time as they explore endless hallways and hundreds of mirrors during their journey.

Who owns Ripley Entertainment Inc.?

We are a division of the Vancouver, BC – based Jim Pattison Group, one of Canada’s largest privately owned companies with 27,000 employees and sales of more than $5.7 billion.

Do you Twitter?

But of course we do. We’re all about anything that helps us communicate the wonderful world of Ripley to our friends and fans.  We’d be honored if you followed us!  @RipleyWorld

Do you blog?

We call our daily blog, WTF? (Weird, True Facts). Sign up for it at www.ripleys.com and you will receive a weekly version of it, which we call the Weekly Weird every Monday morning in your email box.  In it, you will find the latest weird, bizarre, and unbelievable happenings in the world today!

Who do we call to get story ideas or to line-up interviews?

A good place to start is with Tim O’Brien, VP Communications. He can be reached at obrien@ripleys.com or in his office, 615-646-7465, or cell 615-496-5949. The quickest way to get a response is by email.

How do we go about setting up a site visit at one of Ripley’s attractions?

Again, the best way is to arrange it in advance through Tim O’Brien.

Updated: Jan. 6, 2011

2 Responses to “FAQs”

  1. Your daily comic of Jan. 20, 2011 stated that after October 2010, there would not be another month with 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays until 2021. July 2011 will have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays.

  2. I am in grade 8 and am doing i speech on Ripleys book and sites and even Ripley himself. Your site has been great for my research and i love your books! Thanks for being around still. And thanks for the help