Ripley’s reopens after modern makeover

Lizzard Man
Shelley Ransom of Peterborough takes a selfie with the Lizard Man exhibit at the Ripley's Believe It or Not! in Niagara Falls, Ont., Sunday, May 22, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. – Oddball items and curiosities are back on display in Niagara Falls, Ont., now that one of the city’s mainstay attractions has reopened following a major modernization.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not opened the doors to its so-called “odditorium” Friday after six months of renovations aimed at replacing traditional exhibits with something more hands-on.

The revamped attraction features interactive exhibits, including one that allows visitors to simulate walking a tightrope over the iconic falls.

Another exhibit, the Niagara Water Wall, has visitors control the flow, colour and shape of the water using wheels and cranks.

The museum’s manager, Tim Parker, says it’s the most drastic change the space has undergone in years.

The attraction opened in Niagara Falls in 1964 and went through renovations in 1985 and 2005.

The building was essentially gutted for the transformation, which also added more than 90 additional square metres of space, he said.

“It was time,” said Parker, who has worked at the location since 1999.

“It’s like somebody with their living room furniture — after 20 years, the couch is not quite comfortable and the lampshades don’t match anymore, so it’s time to do the redo and get with the times and sort of start over,” he said.

“What really prompted it was the fact that the market’s changed over the years and we have a lot of repeat customers from the Greater Toronto Area and it was time to change up the show so that the show was fresh.”

In the past, visitors looked at the collection through display cases, he said. “Now, it’s very interactive,” he said.

Parker said there was a lineup hours before the museum opened at noon Friday and so far, the response has been positive.

“Some have been here before and they said it’s a total changeover from the old odditorium,” he said.

The site is part of a U.S. chain of attractions that also includes Toronto’s aquarium.

There are 31 other Ripley’s Believe It or Not locations around the world.