Craig recommends… Here’s my latest Madame Tussauds review. Young kids might like Shrek’s Adventure, and the older ones might prefer the London Dungeon. There are more movie waxworks at Warner Bros Studios.
Madame Tussaud started out as a tutor to Louis XVI’s sister, but when the French Revolution broke out she spent her time making gruesome death masks for the victims of the guillotine.
When her associate Dr Phillipe Curtius died in 1794 she inherited his collection of wax models, and spent the next thirty three years exhibiting them around Europe.
She founded Madame Tussauds during a tour of Britain in 1835.
The museum originally contained around 400 waxwork models. Unfortunately fire damage in 1925 and German bombs in 1941, has destroyed most of these older models but the casts have survived, and you can see them in the museum’s history exhibit.
The oldest waxwork model on display is of Madame du Barry, a mistress of Louis XV. Other waxworks from the 19th-century include Robespierre, George III and Benjamin Franklin.
To make the models look as realistic as possible real human hair is glued onto their heads, which is then washed and styled by a hairdresser. One typical model takes around six months to complete, and costs in the region of £30,000.
You might be wondering what happens to the waxwork when the star’s fame has faded… well, they are promptly melted down and re-used for the next big thing. (Fame is very fickle friend!)
Have you ever wanted to have your photo taken next to Mohammad Ali? Or standing next to Arnold Schwarzenegger? Well now’s your chance. All of the waxworks are created life-size, and posed and dressed to look as real as possible.
You can find The Beatles sitting on a sofa and playing guitars… James Bond holding a Martini (shaken but not stirred, obviously)… Pele kicking a football… and even George Clooney looking suave and sophisticated.
The Grand Hall is where you’ll find all of the religious and political leaders, from the current President and Prime Minister, to historical figures like Ghandi and the Pope. A lot of the figures have been placed next to their contemporaries – and not always very sympathetically: Winston Churchill is standing next to an angry looking Hitler!
Keep an eye out for all the fake guests that have been propped up on the benches, and standing in the queues taking a photo… sometimes you’ll stand there waiting for them to finish, believing that they’re real!
The Spirit of London Ride will take you on a time-travelling taxicab through 400-years of British history. You’ll get to experience all the sights (and smells) of Tudor London, the Great Fire of London, Industrial Revolution, pea-souper fogs… ending with a big Swinging Sixties knees-up outside Buckingham Palace.
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You can find some more family-friendly things to do in our big list of children’s events in London. There are events today, tomorrow and at the weekend. You can also look for events in December, January and February