Streams of humanity jostle excitedly here for the chance to take pictures of each other planting a smacker on the waxen visage of fame and fortune. Madame Tussaud brought her show to London in 1802, 32 years after it was founded in Paris, and it’s been expanding ever since, on these very premises since 1884.
There are now some 300 figures in the collection: current movie A-listers who require no more than a first name (Brad, Keira, Arnie), as well as their illustrious forebears for whom the surname seems more appropriate (Monroe, Chaplin); a bevy of Royals (not least Wills and Kate), and sundry sportsmen and -women – not just Nadal, Tendulkar, Muhammad Ali and Messi, but an Athletes’ Village of 2012 Olympians, among them Jessica Ennis and Usain Bolt. Rihanna can be found hanging out among the Music Megastars, while Dickens and Einstein kick back together in the Culture section.
If you’re not already overheating, your palms will be sweating by the time you descend to the Chamber of Horrors in ‘Scream’, where only teens claim to enjoy the floor drops and scary special effects. Much more pleasant is the kitsch ‘Spirit of London’ ride – a taxi pod through 400 years of London life.
Tussauds also hosts Marvel Super Heroes 4D. Interactives and waxworks of Iron Man, Spiderman and an 18ft Hulk provide further photo-ops, but the highlight is the nine-minute film in ‘4D’ (as well as 3D projections, there are ‘real’ effects such as a shaking floor and smoke in the auditorium). Arrive early to avoid the often huge queues.