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Photos: The Truth Is Out There At Anaheim's UFO Museum

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If you love science-fiction or want to embrace the possibility of life on Mars, there's a museum for you in Anaheim.

Located in Anaheim's GardenWalk, Encounters: UFO Experience definitely falls on the side of the fence where aliens are real and have made repeated contact with humans, possibly since we were first learning how to stand upright and light fires. And it'd be okay for you to wear your tinfoil hat, as there is plenty to read about various conspiracies. We stopped by on a Saturday afternoon, and it was relatively quiet, giving us plenty of time to explore.

When you first enter the museum, you'll be given the option of picking up a boarding pass with your ticket. Each one has a difference intergalactic traveler on it. Mine was Colleen Johnston, a UFO cult researcher who "has experienced different types of abductions herself where she has woken up with random bruises and scratches that she believes is evidence of her fighting off her abductors."

The gallery itself is full of tales of abductions, possible evidence of human-alien contact, props from sci-fi movies and information about conspiracies. It's a fun, not-too-serious walk-through and also has some good, creepy cases for those of you who, like Agent Mulder, want to believe. Videos throughout the exhibit play those History Channel-style segments about mysterious encounters, and a wall lined with headphones allows you to listen to dozens of real 9-1-1 calls placed by people convinced they just spotted a UFO. The exhibit is slated to remain in Anaheim through at least the end of May, and curator Brian Bouquet tells LAist that they're in the process of developing an abduction-themed escape room for the space, which, if all goes as planned, will launch in the summer.

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The first section contains replicas of objects from early civilizations and how they might suggest human contact with 'ancient astronauts' or other otherworldly visitors. One replica of a Mayan sarcophagus lid suggests that perhaps the imagery was inspired by one such astronaut seated in the cockpit of an aircraft.

Of course, there is plenty of info on Roswell and Area 51, as well as a chart that explains the types of 'close encounters' beyond the third popularized by the Spielberg flick. The first kind of encounter is if you see a UFO. The second kind is if you find physical evidence of an alien visit, such as footprints or crop circles. The third kind is if you see extraterrestrials who have crash-landed to Earth. The fourth kind is if you are abducted, either by force or voluntarily, while the fifth kind is if you communicate directly with an alien. The sixth kind isn't very fun and involves the death of humans or animals, while the seventh kind requires some kind of "genetic interchange" between a human and an extraterrestrial. Sounds sexy?

There are also several display cases that contain figures depicting what extraterrestrials might look like, including one Alien Autopsy-inspired case where guests are encouraged to reach into the alien's abdomen and feel its guts. Unfortunately for us, someone had stolen the guts and a sign encouraged us to report the thief or any leads to the front desk. I think we all know who stole the alien guts, though: the government.

The cases also contain props from various science fiction movies, such as weaponry from District 9 and a cyborg head from Terminator. Another room invites you to play an arcade-style game where aliens pop up from mountain peaks and you shoot them with a toy gun, though the gun doesn't seem to be synced-up to the screen at all.

If you cared to read all of the materials here, you could while away an hour or two at Encounters—even more if you decided to listen to every 9-1-1 call. For example, you can read about the 2004 OZZFest Sighting in Chicago, where fans leaving the show claimed to see three lights positioned in a triangular formation in the sky.

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Another display ponders whether UFO and alien researchers are being murdered. Many of the authors and researchers died of cancer or apparent suicides that the museum deems suspicious.

Or, you can learn about the Allagash Abductions—often derailed a a hoax—in which four friends claimed aliens abducted them while they were camping in Allagash, Maine in 1976. Then there's the case of Barney and Betty Hill, who claimed that they had an alien encounter in 1961 in New Hampshire. The couple was driving down a remote road when they spotted odd lights in the sky. The lights revealed themselves to be some kind of aircraft, which the couple said hovered over their car. Out of the aircraft came several beings, who surrounded them. Though they said their memories of what happened after that were scarce, Betty later discovered rips and a pinkish powder on the dress she had been wearing. Betty later stated that the encounter—including being examined by the aliens—came back to her in dreams she had over the course of five consecutive days. The Hills have both since died: Barney in 1969 at age 45 of a cerebral hemorrhage, and Betty in 2004 at age 85 of cancer. The Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk, England, has been called Britain's Roswell. In 1980, people claimed to have seen UFO near a U.S. Air Force site. The sighting consisted of moving lights. One witness said that when lights moved near a farm, the animals there went into a frenzy.

Towards the end of the exhibit is a hallway filled with fog where guests will find a good photo-op with a portly, snouted alien. Beyond the eerie hallway is the bridge of an alien spacecraft, full of specimens in jars and writings in a mysterious language. Upon exiting the museum, you can take a photo of yourself with the xenomorph from Alien. And if you have your own alien encounter stories, you can submit them to the museum's website.

Encounters: UFO Experience is located in the Anaheim Gardenwalk, 321 W Katella Ave., Suite 132 in Anaheim, 310-902-5461. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for children.