With it being my first ever visit to Madame Tussauds in London I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. From previous experience of art galleries, museums and exhibitions I guessed there might be a lot of queuing, a long thin white room with lights and podiums for each waxwork, and chunky red ropes that you have to keep behind in order to view from a safe distance. I literally couldn’t have been more wrong!
My detest for queuing was avoided by booking my ticket at a time slot, meaning I simply had to check in at reception when I was due rather than wait outside on the street for hours. A fantastic option for families who want to make the most of their day out, both before and after visiting the venue as it’s located just a few minutes walk from Marylebone station. Madame Tussauds is literally the most incredible party you will ever walk into, and as I entered the first room to be greeted by a hub of people smiling, laughing, taking pictures and chatting I though I’d gatecrashed a party rather than arrived at an exhibition.
Red carpets, lights, cameras and celebrities in their finery dazzled the room as people wrapped their arms around them, posed for a selfie and took family portraits with the likes of David and Victoria Beckham, Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Emma Watson, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Russel Brand, Brad and Angelina, and George Clooney – swoon! And if like me, you’ve ever walked into a shop, seen a mannequin dressed up and apologised for almost bumping into them, then realised they’re not real and felt a dummy! Then this is by far the epitome of thinking dummies are real. The waxworks are so incredibly lifelike you almost expect them to move, like the mime artists on the streets holding perfectly still before jumping out on unsuspecting shoppers.
Every wrinkle, hair, freckle, mole and smile is pain-stakingly accurate and it’s beyond fascinating to stand beside each celebrity and check them out because it makes them seem so real and attainable. I have to confess that I did size up a few of the men as future husband material Goldilocks style, with my choices being Russell Brand, Brad Pitt, David Beckham or George Clooney. Russell turned out to be a little too slim for my liking as everyday of our marriage I’d no doubt feel like I was having a fat day, Brad Pitt was ridiculously tall and the neck craning would eventually get to me, David Beckham’s shoulder was perfectly at my height for snuggles although I think his wife Victoria might not agree, but Mr Clooney was just right, sprawled across his sofa with a twinkle in his eye we snuggled for a selfie and I knew that he was the one.
Before visiting I thought I’d struggle to recognise the waxworks as I don’t particularly watch that much television, keep up on sporting events or listen to bands as much as I used to, but the rooms are divided into zones that take you through the different genres of celebrity, from the red carpet to film, sporting legends, the Royal family, cultural icons, musicians and world leaders, so there’s something for everyone. And with each room that I entered I squealed with how many people I recognised, and surprised myself at how many I knew as you can never fail to sport a legend.
Each waxwork is given their own area that is dressed and decorated to compliment their achievements. I took a picture with Boris Johnson and David Cameron and decided to pretend that I was browsing on my phone rather than posing for a smiley picture with them, as I thought that it would symbolise the shift in todays society by connecting politicians with social media, and when I posted it to my profiles I suddenly had messages of congratulations for being at Downing Street with them as people thought it was real. The sets compliment the waxworks perfectly and create the illusion of having bumped into a celebrity in real life and spontaneously stopping for a photo. I can imagine thousands of people have framed their selfies taken with their idols which now hang taking pride of place on their walls, from thumbs up to kissing them on the cheek or throwing a high five, it’s such an amazing thing to capture.
The film section takes you into the iconic realm of the Terminator, Shrek, Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg and Audrey Hepburn. Sporting legends Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Pele, Bobby Moore and Tom Daley dive from the ceiling, strike a pose and perch on benches. The royal familystand proudly ready for you to join them alongside Queen Elizabeth, Kate and Wills, and past kings and queens such as Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. Music legends Adele, Michael Jackson, Rhianna, Freddy Mercury, Beyonce and Madonna throw some serious shapes with J-Lo being so impossibly petite with the most amazing pair of hotpants and heels. World leaders Nelson Mandella, Barak Obama, Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Ghandi and the Pope all stand to greet you, as men, women, children and grandparents alike are consumed by ooh’s and ahh’s as they spot the icons most close to their heart. From actors we have grown up loving to watch on screen, to musicians whose songs we’ve played at birthdays and weddings, holidayed to and joined on a night out. Leaders who have changed the world and touched so many hearts, sporting icons we have cheered so passionately and placed bets on, to beloved cartoon characters that adorn the bedroom walls of our children. It is impossible not to become caught up in the magic of Madame Tussauds.
And as you walk between the rooms there is a section called The Chamber Of Horrors which is optinal for guests aged twelve years and above, based down a dark twisting staircase with flashing lights, screams and rattling cell doors to simulate a maximum security prison with torture tables and prisoners jumping out at you as you find your way out of the darkness to escape. I have to confess that just like Fright Night, I crept tentatively behind the person in front of me as they bravely made their way past banging doors, screams and people jumping out and I closed my eyes, squealed and ran with the biggest smile on my face. It was scary because you didn’t know what was around each corner or who would pop out at you as the actors snarled, growled and lunged from behind wire fences and dark corners. What an exhilarating experience that was totally unexpected.
You then get to see the waxworks from behind the scenes and watch how each figure is made with the stages displayed in glass cases and information plaques next to each. Videos play on screens around the room showing One Direction meeting their figures, posing for photos and having such intricate measurements taken. It was fascinating to see how each figure is first sculpted in 150kg of clay before being moulded in wax. It takes around four months to sculpt, mould and then colour each waxwork, costing around £150,000 to complete. Each freckle, wrinkle, dimple and hair is hand placed and attached, with a full head of hair taking six weeks to implant, before it is then cut and styled and a makeup artist retouches the face. To see the amount of time, skills and effort that go into each person is incredible and it’s an experience in itself to see it unfold before your eyes.
You then step into the back of a black cab for The Spirit of London ride which is a moving tour taking you through the streets and history of London with guided audio available in several languages and a first row seat of the action and heritage of our great country with flashing lights, sound effects, moving figures and scenery as the taxi leads the way. Starting in Elizabethan times with the queens guards and jesters you pass through jingling bells, cheers and finery, moving onto Shakespear writing a play at his desk, through the rat infested plague filled streets and the suited plague doctors, to the vivid great fire of London, Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, Queen Victoria and the industrial revolution, Sir Winston Churchill and the two world wars, finally coming to Carnaby Street in the swinging 60s, punk rock 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond to join the party, carnival and celebrations.
And if that wasn’t exciting enough the day ends with a visit to Marvel to meet your favourite super heros including the Hulk, Spiderman, Wolverine and Captain America, before entering the 4D movie cinema for a viewing of the characters in action fighting the ferocious Dr Doom, a giant robot terrorising the streets of London. With every gigantic stomp the cinema floor shakes, wind blows your hair as they fly past, with flashing lights, loud bangs and fragments shooting out of the screen at you as the heros swoop up to your face and pull you right into the centre of the action. I couldn’t help but lay back in my seat, hold onto the arm rest and sit wide-eyed as I eeked and squeaked diving out of the way of broken buildings flying out at me and robots stomping. Such a fantastic experience for children and adults alike.
Finally the tour came to a close with an amazing gift shop where you can buy souvenirs, nibbles and treats for all ages. There are zones throughout where you can have professional portraits taken with celebrities, snack on popcorn, candy apples, slush puppies and confectionary, make wax hands and buy t-shirts and awards to take home with you. As a first time visitor to Madame Tussauds I had such a fabulous time and can’t wait to return with the rest of my family as whilst I was walking around I couldn’t help but think that Dad would love a picture with Pele, Mum would adore Whoopi Goldberg and the children would go ballistic to meet Shrek and Tinkerbell! New waxworks are added throughout the year so there’s always something fresh and exciting to see, and if you haven’t been in years it’s well worth a return visit. I shall treasure my Madame Tussauds pictures forever and sleep soundly at night knowing that George Clooney and I are so incredibly well suited.