The Stars Come Out at Madame Tussauds: Part 1
In recent years, overseen by the Tussauds Group/Merlin Entertainments, the Madame Tussauds brand has expanded across the world, and the now the world famous waxworks can now be found in cities such as New York, Sydney, Berlin and Bangkok. To this day, the original London exhibition remains the biggest waxworks in the world, and the flagship attraction that is ever evolving to keep up with the latest celebrities and trends!
The Madame Tussauds story began in 1761 when Marie Grosholtz was born in Strasbourg in 1761. During her life, Marie became an art tutor to King Louis XVI’s sister and lives in Versailles before she returned to Paris on the eve of The French Revolution where Marie made death masks of executed nobles and her former employers, the King and Queen. As a wax model apprentice, Marie inherited Dr Philippe Curtus’ wax exhibition in 1794, towards the end of the French Revolution, and under her leadership the exhibition/brand continued to evolve before Marie decided to leave her husband, François Tussaud, to tour the British Isle to showcase the exhibition. In 1835 the waxwork exhibition moved to ‘The Baker Street Bazaar’ and in 1884 it moved to the now current location of Madame Tussauds on Marylebone Road under the guidance of her grandsons.
Keeping up with the times
My first visit to Madame Tussauds was way back in the mid 1990s and I can still remember key aspects of the attraction I saw back then to this day. In particular, an animated waxworks of a boy popping up over a wall while another waxwork was seated on a bench in front come to mind in the Garden Party section, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator which provided an official photo opportunity (and security check) as we first entered the attraction. My parents still have the family photo to this today and it is nice to see that the original waxwork is still there!
Over the years this area has took on many forms, but in recent months the ‘Awards Party’ zone has once again evolved and had a complete makeover to make the attraction more spacious, immersive, interactive and collective.
The area now has a clean and modern look with key figures such a Eddie Redmayne, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Tom Hardy, Zendaya and Dame Helen Mirren taking centre stage, along with many other key personalities. Below is a gallery of just some of the figures that can be found in this area.
Leaving ‘ Award Party’ guests move on to the ‘Alien Escape’ experience which is now in its fifth year. It was originally released to coincide with the release of Alien: Covenant and was once an upcharge attraction with live actors, but today it is just a walk through experience with a couple of effects. While it provides a good photo opportunity, this area felt flat and was passed by by many as it felt a little separated from the rest of the attraction. Potentially this is an area for future redevelopment.
Next up is the ‘Film’ zone. This area hasn’t changed much in recent years and for me it is one of the less enjoyable areas of the attraction as the area also includes a ‘Wax Hand’ opportunity which takes up valuable space, where space is already a premium, but the inclusion of this upsell creates a bottle neck for visitor flow. To be honest, this area could do with a rework, but it is clear that it is still an enjoyable experience for many. Eagle eyed readers may also notice that the Sherlock figure has moved to this area, but more on that later!