When spending somewhere in the mid-$20s for one adult ticket, you might not expect to have a full day’s entertainment. And you would be right at Madame Tussauds Orlando.
So why go there?
“You could hang around the whole day and you are welcome to do that, but most people won’t spend more than one hour or an hour and a half,” admits a wax museum employee who for obvious reasons has to be nameless.
So we repeat: why go there?
There are good reasons.
And if you read about it here, you will not only find a few…
But you will also realize or encounter some surprising facts about wax museums such as the notion that, ‘hey, these were around long before folks even heard about theme parks.’
And the history of them might surprise you.
Because the history might best be described as “macabre” or “ghoulish” or most resembling a horror film. Or even Disney’s own “Haunted Mansion” or Universal’s “Halloween Horror Nights.”
Actually, a single ticket to Madame Tussauds is $26.63 or $21.30 for children aged 3 to 12. Discounted Madame Tussauds ticketsMadame Tussauds tickets are also available. And you can also buy multiple tickets to other Merlin Entertainments attractions that reduces the per visit cost. These include the Orlando Eye and SEA LIFE Aquarium where the major attraction is a 360-degree ocean tunnel, also at International Drive.
In fact, you probably don’t even know it, but Merlin Entertainments is the second largest attraction operator in the world.
You can guess who’s first.
Which does not tell you why people go to wax museums when other competing attractions offer roller coasters and
perhaps far more compelling interactive activities.
The only thing to do at the wax museum is to walk around and see the celebrities.
But that’s enough in its own way for many people.
After all, many of these figures are really life-like.
If you simply sample visitor comments, you find many observations on how life-like it all seems. And how close you can get to celebrity.
“I half expected some of them to get up and move…Some really good likenesses…The staff was very friendly and the statues were unbelievable…Visitors will recognize every figure…Props are available at most of the stations so visitors can take some creative pictures with their favorite celebrities…
Most of us never really get to see real celebrities or the famous people we hear and read about in history.
So this is the closest you will ever get to them.
That’s your best and most obvious response to a visit here.
“Get close enough to hug your heroes and take the perfect photo with wax figures of the world’s most famous faces,” the museum suggests.
You can’t believe everything self-serving tourist attractions tell you, of course, but this is obviously true.
Even if you don’t have a camera, photographers are on hand all over the small museum to take your pictures. At a price, of course.
You can even buy photographs at the gift shop, along with the usual magnets, key rings, etc.
Get close to Honest Abe
You can get the closest you will ever get to movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe and John Travolta, historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, cultural icons like Andy Warhol and Steve Jobs, football and sports stars like Dan Marino, Serena Williams, and Tiger Woods, and even television stars such as Oprah and Jimmy Fallon.
The latest addition here is the legendary pop group “One Direction.”
That is “Niall, Harry, Liam, Louis and Zayn.” They appear together after a real-life break up.
They are also the latest example of how fans can take photos up front and personal with their own favorite figure. They are in a seated position on bleachers, so anyone can interact with the entire group.
Sit right down with a favorite.
No bars or barriers.
You might appreciate the figures more by knowing how difficult it really is to get them here. And the history of the wax museum itself.
Wax museums go back to the early 1500s at least.
Funeral effigies of royalty such as English queens and kings started the whole thing in the days when royal corpses had to be buried at times in hot and humid weather. So wax effigies were in style. They were often displayed by tombs or in churches. Naturally, they were popular with visitors of all types.
It even became a practice at times to pay for a view.
Hardly the first
Madame Tussauds is the most famous name associated with wax museums. But it is far from claiming to be the first. The worldwide chain was started in 1835 in London’s Baker Street.
The best known of these today is the Hollywood Wax Museum in California, near Knott’s Berry Farm. It is almost entirely movie actors in settings associated with their popular roles.
A footnote: if you want to see US presidents, you might have to journey to Keystone, South Dakota, for the National Presidential Wax Museum. It has the distinction of being the only wax museum in the world to have every US President. A highlight is former US President George Bush standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center. While there, you can also check out wax figures of Sitting Bull and George Custer.
Wax museums have even been popular in South America and India, among other countries.
Don’t think making these figure is easy, either.
Wax not easy to work with
The process can take up to six months.
Researchers conduct surveys first to decide on likely candidates for wax fame. If a celebrity agrees and is alive, of course, he or she may meet with stylists. They take hundreds of measurements and photos. The idea for the artists is to match hair and eye share and skin tone.
Perfectly. As in life-like.
Incidentally, though they are called wax figures, the people who put these figures together use steel and clay as well.
Attendance has not waxed and waned over the years, either.
Visitors have been increasing at most of the various wax museums according to recent published revenue reports.
The secret to survival…if there is one?
Insiders say it is this: after taking down the ropes that once separated wax figures from their admirers in the 1990s, the houses have become an interactive celebrity experience.
Celebrity is widely celebrated not only in our own US culture, but worldwide.
“There is an identification with famous people as a substitute for the obscurity of one’s own existence, so knowing somebody famous somehow can lead one to share in that fame, if not the money,” observed Dr. Mathieu Deflem, a sociologist at the University of South Carolina.
In other words, even seeing replicas in a museum “establishes a connection or sorts.”
One major advantage for wax figures is that unlike most museums, there are not those big signs that say “don’t touch.”
And so at a mid-$20s price tag, this is an attraction where you can’t spend all day…
But you can see the famous figures of today and yesterday, take their photograph and even give them a hug -- something you could never be able to do in real life.
If you go
Madame Tussauds Orlando
8387 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819