It seems that everything we’ve done since arriving in London has been of some sort of historical or cultural significance. If you’ve been reading here for awhile you’ll know we love that stuff, but sometimes you just need to do something cheeky, something totally mindless and fun, and so we made a date with the stars at Madame Tussauds in London!
Some quick observations before we get started –
1. You have to be made of wax to look healthy under Madame Tussauds lighting. I’m serious. I even made Edward Cullen look tan.
2. As I suspected, Leonardo DiCaprio and I make one heck of a lovely couple. I’ve known this since 1998. I’ll never let go, Jack!
3. I am shorter than every single celebrity at Madame Tussauds, even Tom Cruise.
Madame Tussauds Discounted Tickets
We arrived at Madame Tussauds on a Saturday morning right when it opened. There were only a couple dozen other people in line and yet it still took over half an hour to get our tickets because they had one, just one, exceptionally slow guy manning the ticket sales. You can save yourself this time and get a 25% discount if you purchase your tickets online in advance. We couldn’t order online because I was using a discount voucher that got us 50% off each ticket – a huge savings, especially when an adult ticket is £30 and kid’s tickets aren’t much less at £26! (These vouchers can be found quite often on products sold in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s!)
When we finally made it through, we took an elevator up into the dome where we kicked off the party in the appropriately named Party Room. All the big Hollywood names are in here – George Clooney, Brangelina, Johnny Depp, the Twilight guys, and Leonardo DiCaprio among many, many others. (I told you me and Leo make a smashing couple!)
Russell Brand was the most true-to-life figure of all of them. I was so sure it was some sort of Candid Camera-type stunt and he would reach out and grab me if I stood too close to him! There are also a whole slew of Bollywood stars in the Party Room, out of which I recognized a total of zero. (I suppose that one Bollywood movie I saw in India didn’t stick in my memory as much as I thought it would.)
Classic Film Characters
Our next stop on the Madame Tussauds tour took us to the Classic Film Characters Room. We saw Marilyn, Audrey Hepburn, John Wayne, and lovable kids characters (or downright frightening, depending on how you look at it) like E.T. and Shrek.
On a semi-related note, Robert Downey, Jr. as Sherlock Holmes was in this area – did you know he’s only an inch taller than Tom Cruise? I’d sort of assumed Iron Man would have been a taller dude.
Icons: Past and Present
Sports stars, cultural icons, music megastars, world leaders, and the royal family are all hanging out together in a third room following the film characters. I only recognized about 1% of the sports stars. That’s Cory’s thing, not mine. (Anybody know who the British athlete is in my photo? She’s rockin’ my dream body!)
The cultural icons, political leaders and the royal family were a trip to take photos with, but we had the most fun with the music megastars. All my favorites were there – The Beatles, Elvis, Bob Marley, Madonna, even Britney! (If CD’s could wear out, my copy of Baby One More Time would have completely disintegrated before I even made it out of eighth grade.)
Chamber of Horrors
We knew we were over halfway through the museum when we entered the Chamber of Horrors. This part wasn’t so much scary as it was kind of gross. The actual guillotine blade that beheaded Marie Antoinette is displayed here. (At least that’s the claim they make, anyway.) After having a run, literally, through the haunted house, I was glad we were close to done. I don’t do haunted houses. I felt kind of bad for using Lexie as a human shield. My survival instincts must outweigh my instinct to protect my young.
Our last stop before hitching a ride on the Spirit of London was a small exhibition taking visitors behind-the-scenes at Madame Tussauds. Here the museum shares the four-month-long process by which they take the molds of each celebrity and then turn them into the wax figures displayed in the show rooms. Each completed figure gets regular shampoos and makeup retouching, plus a daily primping before the museum opens. So whoever has that job is sort of like a mortician for wax people. Creepy.
We also learned all about Madame Tussaud herself – until our visit I hadn’t even realized she was a real person. She learned her trade in wax modeling from the man who owned the house where her mother was a housekeeper. She became very skilled in the art and was commissioned by famous people and royalty in the late 1700’s to make their figures. She’s most famous for the death masks she made from the severed heads of those executed during the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette included. After exhibiting her work in a traveling show for 30 years, she decided to turn her collection of prominent figures into a museum. Today, you aren’t a big celebrity until you’ve been made out of wax at Madame Tussauds!
Just as I thought we’d be leaving the museum after riding the Spirit of London through London’s history, we stopped for one last photo-op with the Marvel Superheroes. A gigantic Hulk dominates the area with Spiderman, Wolverine, and Captain America hanging out in the wings. If you stick around for the show to start, you can enter a theater and watch a short, 4D movie featuring all the superheroes. It was less than ten minutes long, but worth watching if you’ve got the time.
After the movie, our morning at Madame Tussauds was complete. Not including our time waiting in line for tickets, we spent about two hours in the museum. This wasn’t our typical way of spending a Saturday in London, but I loved the opportunity to just be silly and let loose a little. (It’s hard to do that at most of the other places we visit in London.) And another bonus – this is one place where you don’t have to be one bit embarrassed to take goofy selfies because everyone is doing it. Awesome!
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