Madame Tussauds review (Mar 2014)
This is out-of-date! I have been here again since I wrote this review
Madame Tussauds reminds me a little bit of the Natural History Museum. That place is full of stuffed animals and this one is full of stuffed humans. They've basically just taken a load of famous people and embalmed them like you do with dead dogs, and put them on display for everyone to gawp at.
The queues outside are totally nuts. Every time I go past on the bus the line is stretching for miles and miles as far as the eye can see. There are more people in this queue than there are people living on the planet. When I finally got through the front doors I thought I'd made it, but then it carried on snaking its way around some inside corridors too, so the queue just goes on and on forever and ever. I nearly cried when I saw it, and that is the truth. Some people actually died of old age before they got to the desk. Why is it so popular? Apparently it's the most popular attraction in London but I haven't got the faintest idea why.
The first room you come to is the red carpet bit with all the screen stars from Hollywood. You can have your pic taken with Brad Pitt and George Clooney if you want, and then try and fool all your friends back home that you actually met them in real life (they won't be fooled). I must admit that the models are pretty lifelike. They've got ET in his basket and a good Arnie done up as The Terminator. The Bruce Willis one is pretty good too. They've also got Bruce Lee and Bruce Springsteen, so that is three different Bruces in one building and it's not often you see a collection of famous Bruces. I had a scout around for Bruce Forsyth too, but he wasn't anywhere to be seen. Maybe they've got tired of waiting and melted the old fella down already.
If you're under five then you can have a sit down with One Direction if you want, or punch Justin Bieber in the face. You can also kick Pele in the balls (footballs). It's probably the only place in London where you can pinch someone on the bottom and not get arrested.
A lot of my favourite people were missing, which was a bit disappointing. They had Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra, for example, but no Des O'Conner. And they had political giants like Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, but no sign of Nick Clegg or Lembit Opik.
They've got a good collection of royals with the Queen and the whole family. Even Diana gets a look in. Then it's on to all the sporting stars like Lewis Hamilton and Tiger Woods, grinning at all the ladies as they walk by.
There are a few amusing double-acts that they've stuck together for a laugh. I'm sure that Churchill would be thrilled to know that they've stuck him next to Adolf Hitler, for example. Whilst David Cameron gets to pose in front of No.10 Downing Street with Boris Johnson. I couldn't see an Ed Milliband waxwork anywhere, but I think I spotted him flipping burgers out the back afterwards, so he is around somewhere.
The music section has got quite a few famous ladies like Madonna and Kylie Minogue. There is also a dodgy looking Elvis and some ropey old Beatles -- I definitely think it's time they updated their Beatles display. I couldn't recognise half of the other singers, I guess I'm getting old. One of them didn't have many clothes on so I'm guessing that was Rihanna.
The Chamber of Horrors has changed a lot since I came here as a kid. It's been turned into a "living exhibit" now with costumed actors. You descend some cold stone stairs into the blackest of black, all the time with a thumping heartbeat playing out the speakers and dark red lights bathing the place in blood. And then you walk through some rooms filled with very loud bangs and doors slamming. Actors occasionally jump out from behind the curtains and go boo at you (literally). And you can see a few prisoners swinging from the rafters and toothy dogs barking and howling as you pass.
Next up is the "Spirit of London" ride, which is definitely worth a look. I actually thought that this was the best bit of the whole place. First of all you have to queue up through an old wooden library (yes, more queueing) and get into a little black taxi cab. Then it drives off on a little track past scenes from London's history. It kicks off in Elizabethan times with pipe-playing musicians and tight-wearing nobles, and Shakespeare sitting at his desk. The taxi cabs are twisting and turning all the time to show you the sights, up and down and round and round, but it's not like a funfair ride. It's very slow and pleasant. Then you pass through the plague and the Great Fire of London, where a water pump drops spots of water on the taxis down below.
Then you see Christopher Wren and St. Paul's Cathedral, and Queen Victoria and the Industrial Revolution. Then we conveniently skip past the Blitz and straight onto the Swinging Sixties. The whole thing ends with a big carousel knees-up with Buckingham Palace soldiers, coppers, a motorbiking old granny and some city-suited gents in rowing boats (don't ask).
The last little exhibit was a 4D movie of Marvel Comic characters. Unfortunately I can't tell you what that was like because it was broken and they weren't letting anyone in (to be fair to them, they were offering free return vouchers as compensation).
Their final money-making wheeze was for them to herd everyone through the shop whether you wanted to go or not, just to extract the last few pennies from your pocket. The only escape from Madame Tussauds is past shelves of tat and tills. They had a waxwork of entrepreneur Richard Branson in there as well which I thought was a nice touch. And then they parade you past a coffee shop too. Then the guards stripsearch you just to make sure all your money is definitely gone before they finally let you out (okay, I made that last bit up).
To be fair to the place, it is pretty huge. There's quite a lot to see, and the Spirit of London ride was good. But let's be honest, it's basically an attraction where nothing happens. You just walk around looking at wax models of people you've seen in the paper. They don't move, they don't talk. They just stand there like lemons, whilst all of us lemons hand over three crisp notes for the privilege of looking at them.
I'm filing this one under "money pit".
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