Clifton Hill and a bit of Gambling
We decided to make our first stop at the Niagara SkyWheel, a recently constructed giant ferris wheel whose 42 climate controlled gondolas provide an excellent view over all the main attractions of Niagara Falls. During the 10 minute ride on this 53 metre high ferris wheel we had a magnificent view over the Canadian and American Falls as well as over all the other attractions and the residential areas of Niagara Falls. Fortunately, the weather was perfect for this experience and our 360 degree panoramic view extended for many miles.
The Niagara Falls SkyWheel
Because of the brisk weather we decided to duck inside and headed into the Guiness World Records Museum. Formerly called the Guiness Book of World Records, this institution has a colourful history: the managing director of the famous Guiness Brewery in Ireland happened to ask himself during a hunting party in 1951 which bird was faster – a grouse or a golden plover? Unable to find an answer to this question in reference books, he figured that there would have to be thousands of other questions that could not be settled by consulting a reference book and decided to create a book to supply answers to these types of questions.
Views of Clifton Hill
The book became an overnight surprise hit and eventually an updated version featuring new records was published on a yearly basis and has evolved from a text-heavy reference book into a colourful, richly illustrated publication. In recent years several small museums have been created in locations such as Tokyo, San Francisco, Hollywood, Atlantic City, Myrtle Beach and Copenhagen to showcase noteworthy, and sometimes bizarre, world records. The location in Niagara Falls features photos and descriptions of many examples of world records including such curiosities as the world’s tallest man and the world’s smallest woman.
We explored the many interactive displays that feature world records in the spheres of entertainment, art, literature and sport. Natural disasters and scientific achievements are covered as well. Some of the records on display truly boggle the mind and it makes you wonder who has the time to come up with some of these rather offbeat ideas for world records, and who might have the time to execute those ideas. Images of record holders such as the man with the world’s longest ear hairs (4 inches!) were a little scary, to be honest.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Our next destination featured similarly off-beat human feasts: Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, built to look loke a collapsed Empire State Building with King Kong standing at the top, is a true collection of human oddities. Robert LeRoy Ripley (1893 to 1949) was a cartoonist, entrepreneur and amateur anthropologist whose newspaper panel series featured odd but true facts from all over the world. Ripley travelled a lot and became a collector of unusual items from all sorts of exotic destinations around the globe. From 1929 onwards Robert Ripley fascinated readers of seventeen national newspapers with his Believe It Or Not syndicated newspaper panel series. At the height of his popularity he was said to have received more mail than the American president. Ripley became a true media giant of his time and expanded into radio and early television before his death of a heart attack in 1949.
The Clifton Hill Entertainment area
At the Niagara Falls Ripley’s Believe It or Not! we continued our exploration of strange and exotic things and were greeted right away by a three-dimensional sculpture of the world’s largest woman. True oddities such as vampire killing kits, a collection of macabre yet funny gravestones, two-headed piglets and a variety of life-sized optical illusions transported us into the land of the surreal and bizarre. To round out the collection of oddities, Ripley’s also operates a Moving Theatre and Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks in Niagara Falls.