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RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT! OPENS THIS SPRING IN KEY WEST!

 KEY WEST, Fla., April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Believe it or not, Ripley's is spawning another Florida attraction with the spring opening of Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium on Duval Street in Key West. The announcement was made today by Jeremy Smith, general partner for Strand Key West Entertainment, Ltd. Many of the same investors who developed the Orlando Ripley's museum that opened to rave reviews last July are involved in this latest venture.
 Renovations for the new downtown attraction are nearing completion at Key West's historic Strand Theater. The $2.8 million entertainment venture calls for preservation of the magnificent, ornate 1920s architecture of the building exterior; and like Ripley's museums around the world, is designed to reflect its locale.
 "We are really excited with the diverse blend of Ripley's and Key West lore in our new attraction," said Smith. "Our design team has done a fantastic job of capturing much of the feeling and colorful history of the Keys."
 The 10,000-square-foot, multi-level attraction will house a maze of galleries filled with unusual and authentic artifacts gathered worldwide. Extensive Keys-oriented displays range from a vast collection of diving equipment to an entertaining and educational display of enormous marine life. Visitors view native sea life from several different levels and angles in a setting that gives an underwater perspective.
 "One great touch in this gallery," said Smith, "is a periscope visitors can operate. All through the odditorium, the creative design is tops and exhibits are displayed in natural settings."
 Unlike the museum in Orlando, the Key West attraction sports a "new" name. According to Sandi Jones, director of sales and marketing for the Orlando and Key West properties, "We decided to use the term 'odditorium' rather than museum because we wanted to underscore that we differ from the more conventional historic museums in Key West. Since Robert Ripley's first collection of oddities at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair was called Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium, we decided to follow suit," said Jones.
 The unique entertainment concept is patterned after the extensive travels of founder Robert L. Ripley. Attraction visitors enjoy an adventurous tour of the world through the hundreds of incredible artifacts that document man's more unusual customs, talents and experiences. Other exhibits showcased in the Key West Ripley's are an extensive collection of diving equipment and a primitive gallery of African and Latin American ancestral artifacts. A wild lifeboat "tunnel" guaranteed to produce vertigo and a hurricane hallway are among the dynamic interactive exhibits that add adventure to the newest Ripley's!
 "It is fascinating to see how a similar concept can take on such an individual character," said Jones. "Visitors to our Orlando museum and our Key West odditorium will experience an entirely unique adventure but one with many common elements."
 As with the Orlando museum, Forrec International Corporation designed the Key West facility, and The Nassal Company is executing the interior. These Orlando-based firms bring impressive credentials in theme park design with recent projects for Universal Studios Florida, Fiesta Texas, and Nickelodeon Studios Florida to their credit.
 Ripley's Believe It or Not! will be open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, and a complete self-guided tour will take from 60 to 90 minutes. Admission will be $9.75 for adults and $6.75 for children ages 4 through 11 (tax inclusive). Children 3 and under are free. Group rates and packaged options are available, and the odditorium will be accessible to handicapped visitors.
 Ripley's Believe It or Not! is the world's largest chain of amusement, museum-type attractions with 20 other museums located throughout the U.S. and Europe, and in Canada, Mexico, Korea, and Australia. Ripley's Believe It or Not! is a subsidiary of Jim Pattison Industries Ltd., one of Canada's largest privately owned companies. Open since 1950, the St. Augustine, Fla., museum is the "grandfather" of the successful Ripley's chain. The franchise owner for the Key West Museum is Strand Key West Entertainment, Ltd.
 -0- 4/2/93
 /CONTACT: Sandi Jones or Monica Hall of Ripley's Believe It or Not!, 407-872-3081 or 800-998-4418/


CO: Ripley's Believe It or Not! ST: Florida IN: LEI SU:

JJ-JB -- FL008 -- 2666 04/02/93 16:45 EST
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Date:Apr 2, 1993
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