How the 20th century’s most significant footage went from lost media to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Orlando, Florida – November 14, 2022 – In 2019, worldwide news broke about the ‘lost’ Apollo 11 moonwalk reels selling at auction for $1.82 million – officially deemed “erased and reused” by NASA in 2006. The buyer remained anonymous… until now, with the tapes proudly on display at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando, in the attraction’s all-new Out of This World gallery.
The case of the missing film reels is a true Believe It or Not! story. In 1976, a young intern at NASA named Gary George attended a government auction where he paid $217.77 for three truckloads of reels. In the process of selling some and donating others, George came across a few reels labeled “Space Secret” and decided to hang onto them for safekeeping. It wasn’t until NASA’s announcement years later that he realized what he had.
The two hours and 24 minutes of “unrestored, unenhanced, and unremastered” footage features: Neil Armstrong’s lunar declaration, a solar wind experiment, and a lunar gravity demonstration by Buzz Aldrin. They also record the moment Armstrong and Aldrin planted the American flag on the moon as well as a long-distance phone call with President Richard Nixon.
Many things distinguish these tapes from network television broadcast copies. Not only are they among the only surviving first-generation recordings of the Apollo 11 expedition, but their image quality is sharper and more distinct.
“Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is honored to be a part of giving this near-tragic tale of lost media a happily ever after,” said Ripley’s Exhibits Director, John Corcoran. “These tapes are a pivotal part of history. We are proud to be the stewards of such an iconic artifact and are excited to be able to tell their unbelievable story.”
Visitors to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando can now see these historic tapes, among many other unique space exhibits, in the attraction’s new Out of This World gallery.
For an out of this world experience, guests can touch a 3,197-pound meteorite or a piece of Mars, and even get hands on with a pair of gloves to work in a vacuum, as an astronaut would in space. The pièce de résistance – aside from the original Star Wars® Lightsaber® used by Luke Skywalker™: a 16-foot-tall interactive video wall that will also stream live launches.
Learn more about the Apollo 11 moon landing and these amazing, historical tapes at Ripleys.com.
For photos of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando’s Out of This World gallery and the moonwalk display: CLICK HERE
About Ripley Entertainment
Built on the foundation of a daily newspaper cartoon in 1918 — still in print today — Ripley Entertainment has grown to be a world leader in family entertainment, expanding to include more than 100 attractions in 10 countries around the world. Along with Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditoriums, Guinness World Records Attractions, Aquariums, WaxWorks, traveling shows, and miniature golf, the world of Ripley’s continues to grow through exciting new experiences, content, and books for all ages. Learn more about Ripley’s Believe It or Not! by visiting Ripleys.com and following on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.