Madame Tussauds review
Madame Tussauds is something that Londoners are happy to leave to the tourists. If they want to spend forty minutes in the queue, thirty quid getting in, and two hours staring at a load of plastic people with goofy grins on their faces, then that's up to them. I honestly don't know why this place is so popular. Every time I catch a bus down the Euston Road I see a queue stretched out down the pavement with a couple of hundred people in it. The sun goes up and down while they're waiting. Civilisations rise up and get conquered. Stars are born, mountains are formed, epochs come to a cataclysmic end. They come to London for seven days and probably spend six of them standing here.
The first room you enter is a big Hollywood-style shindig. Brad Pitt is standing twenty feet from Angelina (even their waxworks aren't talking to each other). Patrick Stewart is standing all on his own in a smart suit. David Beckham has got his arm around his missus. I thought I saw David Cameron as well but it turned out to be Tom Hanks. Lady Gaga is up on the stage with someone who might possibly be Britney Spears. Next to them is Kim Kardashian talking a selfie on her waxwork phone. That's modern-day photography for you: all the tourists are queuing up to take a selfie of themselves standing next to her taking a selfie of herself.
After that comes John Wayne in a pink shirt, Bruce Willis in a ripped shirt, and a temporary jungle exhibit which is about as scary as a sneeze.
Then come the sports stars. They've got Mo Farah doing his Mo-bot pose, Usain Bolt doing his bow and arrow pose, and a moody Mourinho looking like Tom Cruise circa Cocktail.
Their Henry VIII isn't too bad, but Elizabeth I looks more like Helen Mirren than Helen Mirren does. Princess Di has been exiled to her own corner. The Queen's up on the big stage with Phil, Charles, Camilla, William and Harry (where's Kate?), whilst poor old Di is looking doe-eyed at them from the other side of the room.
After that comes a gaggle of good guys: Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Martin Luther King. Next to them is a corner full of clever dudes: Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawkins.
Then comes a very shoddy looking Elvis, The Beatles lounging around on a sofa, and a floor full of pop stars like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and Adele, plus some scantily clad women who I'm basically too old to recognise. One Direction are still here as well -- didn't they split up ages ago? They could create five more people if they melted them down. I would have the three Bee Gees, Engelbert Humperdinck plus one more... maybe Des O'Connor.
I quite enjoyed seeing Boris Johnson posing outside No.10. The last time I visited Madame Tussauds they had David Cameron standing next to him but he's disappeared now. He's been melted down whilst Boris has survived! Ha ha ha, I enjoyed that. And Donald Trump has dispatched his arch-nemisis Obama to the side stage with President Kennedy. But where's Maggie gone? They've got rid of Maggie Thatcher! They've burnt her down -- I can't believe it. How can they include Angela Merkel and not our very own Iron Lady?
The Chamber of Horrors has disappeared as well. I'm guessing that it must have been too scary for the little kids because they've replaced it with a Sherlock Holmes attraction instead. All of those dark corridors have been transformed into the cobbled, foggy streets of Victorian London. You get led from scene to scene by a load of hammy actors and it reminded me of those interactive skits they have at the London Dungeon, where you just stand in the shadows for fifteen minutes hoping they don't haul you out of the crowd. I was glad when it was all over, to be honest.
You'll definitely enjoy the Spirit of London ride, though. This is easily the best part of the day. They sit you down in a time-travelling taxi cab and send you on a fairground ride through five hundred years of British history. While the taxi is twisting and turning past scenes about Shakespeare, the plague and the Great Fire of London, you've got all the lights and loud sounds and animated waxworks moving five feet from your face. It's like driving through a movie. You'll meet Christopher Wren and Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, Charles Dickens in the smoky streets of Industrial London, Churchill over the smouldering ruins of the Blitz, and it all ends with a big 1960's-style knees-up outside the palace with can-can coppers and singing soldiers. It's all totally mad, but a lot of fun.
If you were a kid in the eighties then you might remember the old planetarium they had next-door (that big green dome you can see on the street). Sadly that doesn't exist anymore because they've turned it into a 3D cinema now. They're showing a Marvel superhero story at the moment so naturally they had to up it to 4D (3D is so last century). 4D is basically the same as 3D but with vibrating seats, jets of cold air, and water sprayed in your face. Your kids will probably enjoy it but it's really just a boy's cartoon about Ironing Man, or Iron Man, or whatever his name is, who helps Captain America blow up a big robot before he succeeds in killing the Queen. There's no sign of the British police anywhere whilst all of this mayhem is going on, by the way. And I don't know where all the Buckingham Palace soldiers disappeared to -- maybe they were on a tea break. Our security services basically just stood back and let Iron Man fire his rockets and bombs all over The Mall. Totally unrealistic!
The last section is where you'll find all the Star Wars characters. They've got Anakin's final fight before his face caught fire, Han Solo lounging around at the cantina, Chewie piloting the Millennium Falcon, and Darth Vader doing his 'I'm your dad' speech before lunging at Luke with his lightsaber.
In summary then... I usually slate this place because of the price, but I've actually mellowed on it a bit now (but only a little bit). I still think the entry fee is totally ridiculous, and the queues are still far too long, but it's a decent enough way to pass a morning if you don't mind the cost.
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