We weren’t sure what to expect from this strange looking museum that looks as if it is about to disappear into a sink hole on International Drive! Having read mixed reviews we went with an open mind – and were very pleasantly surprised! The website doesn’t give much away, but for good reason – there are some fun little surprises along the way that would be less amusing if you knew what was coming! So, I will try to describe this intriguing place without giving too much away!
The self-guided tour began with some interesting artwork on the wall made totally from sweets – my four year old now has some new ideas for what to do with her gummy bears! Then came a hologram of Mr Ripley himself, explaining how the ‘Believe it or Not’ idea all started.
Next came some interesting interactive exhibits to test your senses or, in my case, make you screech with an unexpected blast of air when putting my hand into a hole that the sign said not to! There are a few things along the way that instruct you not to do something – invariably enticing you to buck authority and follow your curiosity. Inevitably there is a surprise that will startle but not frighten you! This area provided some ‘Science museum’ type interactions fun for all ages. My four year old daughter loved pressing buttons to see various light and sound reactions and her forty something dad equally enjoyed testing his abilities to balance a stick on his finger! (Says it all really!) Some simple ideas here which not only have a science principle behind them but are really fun to try, especially if there is a group of you with a competitive nature!
Some interesting facts about unusual human capabilities defy anyone not to attempt tongue contortions and facial gurning in the mirror, and, without wanting to give too much away, and don’t tell the visitors you are taking with you, take note of the time you enter to find your video on the time lapse screen just as you leave!!
Among numerous, fascinating exhibits referencing some famous hoaxes and also some questionable folk tales, there are exhibits displaying some strange human traditions from around the world. Some will make you smile, some will make you wince! Amidst these exhibits, you are led through a very odd, what can only be described as, a ‘wonky’ room. It is quite amazing how the distortions here actually make you feel dizzy! There is no sound, lights or even movement to make you feel this way, just optical illusion!
A favorite near the end was the light tunnel. Again an illusion which makes walking a straight line on flat ground without holding on to the rail a real challenge! Our four year old loved this – as did all the adults around us!
All in all, Welcome Homes USA thoroughly recommends this homage to the weird and wonderful! It provides a welcome, leisurely paced break for an air conditioned escape from the midday sun or an interesting and fun diversion when the weather isn’t being so kind and Florida demonstrates one of its frequent but short downpours!