Diaz, 11, from Guam, stands inside the world's
largest tire on display at Ripley's Believe It or
Not museum on Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood on May
20, 2013. Built by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber
Company of Akron, Ohio, this enormous truck tire
stands nearly 12 feet tall and weighs over 6500
ANGELES — A gruesome photo gallery of men and women
impaled by arrows, augers and pipes is gone from the
Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum in Hollywood.
don’t expect to see any displays of medieval chastity
belts or tongs used to torture victims of the Spanish
and other macabre oddities have been replaced by such
exhibits as a painting of Marilyn Monroe made entirely of
candy, a mounted two-headed calf and the world’s
smallest drivable car.
all part of a new family-friendly look at 33 Ripley’s
Believe It or Not museums around the world. The Hollywood
location shifted to less-creepy displays after a
$3.5-million renovation that museum operators hope will
draw huge crowds this summer.
really wanted to push this as a family place," said
museum general manager Andrea Silverman, who estimates
that the new exhibits have already increased attendance
about 40 percent. "We wiped out the entire museum to
bring in an entirely new show."
makeover represents one of the final pieces in the
overhaul of Hollywood Boulevard, a loud, colorful
commercial district that has gone from downtrodden and
scary in the 1970s and 1980s to glitzy and crowded today.
boulevard, which draws an estimated 14 million visitors a
year, has benefited from several multimillion-dollar
projects over the last few years, starting with the 2001
completion of the $650-million Hollywood & Highland
then, strong tourist demand has helped spur several other
high-profile projects on Hollywood Boulevard, including
the $55-million Madame Tussauds wax statue attraction in
2009, plus the Hard Rock Cafe and the $600-million W
Hotel, both of which opened in 2010.
Hollywood Wax Museum completed a renovation last year and
the TCL Chinese Theater — formerly known as Grauman’s
Chinese — closed this month to complete a remodeling
project to accommodate a 94-foot-wide IMAX screen.
new shimmering facades and pricey tourist attractions
represent a dramatic reversal for the boulevard, which was
known in the 1970s and ‘80s as a haven for runaways,
prostitutes and drug dealers.
made considerable progress in upgrading the
neighborhood," said Leron Gubler, president and chief
executive of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. "It’s
nice that businesses are reinvesting and upgrading."
Ripley’s museum has been at the corner of Hollywood
Boulevard and Highland Avenue for 20 years, displaying the
freakish and the morbid. Regular admission is $16.99 for
adults, $8.99 for children.
the last few years, Silverman said, many parents had
demanded refunds, saying the exhibits were not appropriate
for children. The museum closed for three months late last
year to install 350 new exhibits, including a new
collection of Marilyn Monroe clothes and photos.
who has managed the museum for five years, said she agreed
with the call from her corporate bosses to remove many of
the extreme exhibits. The Ripley’s museums and aquariums
are owned and operated by Florida-based Ripley’s
Entertainment, a subsidiary of Vancouver, Canada-based Jim
Silverman said she cherished many of the macabre exhibits
and hated to store them away in a warehouse in Florida,
including the skeleton of a two-headed baby.
was literally crying when I was packing it away," she
few chilling curiosities remain on display, including a
real shrunken human head and a sword used by the Japanese
military to execute rebels and insurgents in the 1920s and
recent visitors to the museum — parents and children —
say they have no problem with gruesome and freakish
Diaz, a tourist from Guam who visited the museum with her
husband, Ramon, and their two daughters, Beatrice, 13, and
Jasmine, 11, said she would not demand a refund if her
children saw photos of impaled people.
are intelligent enough to understand what is going
on," she said of her daughters, adding that her
11-year-old’s favorite display was a mounted one-eyed
parents said exhibits such as the shrunken skull and the
two-headed calf are appropriate only for kids older than 5
have a 10-year-old grandson and I think he would love
it," said Bettie Williams, a tourist from Birmingham,
reactions are good news for Silverman, who said she wants
to retain a few extreme displays. For example, she was
recently offered the remains of an eight-legged puppy.
can’t wait to get it," she said. "That’s my