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New models are being produced all the time while have-beens are quietly removed from display and put into storage. Over the years hundreds of celebrities have made their way to Madame Tussaud's 'stage door' to be received in the private studio where the sculptor makes precise measurements and photographs the subject's head from every possible angle.
Madame Tussaud's is a wax museum with an incredible (and morbid) history. Her illustrious career began in the 18th century, when she started taking death masks of prisoners about to be executed. Don't ask me why. Her work eventually progressed to wax models of celebrities and notables, continuing after her death, and today the museum is loaded with dozens of uncannily realistic old and modern celebrities. The celebs range from Steven Spielberg to Henry VIII, from Adolf Hitler to the Rock, and stand freely about the museum so that you can see them up close, have your picture taken with them, and tell them that you thought they were really great in Be Cool. There is also a gruesome Chamber of Horrors and a fantastic trip through time to experience 'Old London' in a miniaturized London cab. I particularly enjoyed this last bit and recommend it for the whole family (unlike the Chamber of Horrors, which is be a bit scary for children). The show is cheapest in the evening, so I'd suggest the 5pm show. Be there in plenty of time to queue up and grab a ticket!
Highlights include the Chamber of Horrors which is the home of many notorious figures such as Jack the Ripper and the Grand Hall where you will find all manner of celebs, from Bill Clinton to Michael Jackson and Pavarotti to Mandela. Another highlight is 'The Spirit of London' exhibition which covers a period of more than 400 years and spans London's history from Elizabethan times to the present day, capturing the essence of London's pomp and circumstance.
Sights, sounds and even smells combine to tell the colourful story of Britain's capital city to visitors travelling in cars specially designed to resemble London taxi-cabs but thankfully, without the drivers! Indeed, the cars were actually made by the same company who build real London taxis! Over 70 figures are involved in 'The Spirit of London' many of which are animated and fused with a host of special effects.
Before Madame Tussaud had established herself in London, her collection of wax figures toured all around the country in wagons and caravans. Her macabre collection of relics from the French Revolution, alongside portraits of torturers, villains and murderers, proved irresistible to the visiting public. To protect society ladies of a delicate temperament, the collection of unsavoury characters was kept distinct from the rest of the exhibition in an area known as 'The Separate Room'. In 1846 the satirical magazine, Punch, coined the term 'Chamber of Horrors'.
Every day of the year except Christmas day, it should take you about two hours to get around the wholeplace. Adjoining Madame Tussaud's is the London Planetarium. If you want to make a day of it you can buy a combined ticket for both Tussauds and the Planetarium but beware that children under 5 are not admitted to the Planetarium.
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