Went to Madame Tussauds yesterday. It was pretty good, but also expensive and the queue took ages.
The last time I went to Tussauds was (I've been reminded) about 25 years ago. I'm not overly sure it's changed all that much ;-)
The first thing about Tussauds is the queuing. If you go, get ready for a whole lot of queuing. We went at about the quietest time possible. We happily walked right in (sometimes the queue is all the way down the street), and walked right past a sign that said "45 minutes left". We also "short circuited" some of the zig-zaggy queuing things, so figured it wouldn't take long. Remember, when you get in the building, you still have to negotiate the whole of the downstairs, go around the corner, up the stairs, and on a bit further. If you've got kids, this is going to be a real problem. It took us a little over 30 minutes to get through a "short" queue. Oh, don't forget, if you go there before 2pm, it'll cost you ?20 each to get in - it's not cheap! (they do advanced tickets - if you're going on a weekend or school holiday, use advanced tickets!).
Anyway, once in, you have to wait for the lift. Then you get into the first room, which is actually pretty good. It's just various current celebs in various poses. TPT sort of squirts water at you as you go in - which I thought was good. You can pose with just about all of the figures, some of which have professional photographers by them. Be careful though, one of the photographers doesn't move all that much ;-) One good thing about having a long queue outside is that these rooms are not over crowded. Whilst you're bound to step into someone's picture of their friend with celebrity X, you get as long as you want and can pretty much do what you like.
Moving swiftly on, you go via "world film" with slightly more classic celebs through a hulk room. He's got a big hand you can stand in, in a sort of "king kong" style. Next on is history (25 years ago, that room had Margaret Thatcher in it). The history room is actually really good. It's a shame you can't learn history at school like that. Lastly, you've got world leaders (my South African friend was happy because there were two ex-presidents, and a handful of other SA people there). You can get a picture of you talking on a podium with Tony Blair and George Bush making eyes at each other beside you. There's also a pop idol set, with Simon Callow looking on. Pretty cheesy, but if your a pop idol fan, you'll probably like it.
And thus endeth the traditional wax work stuff. Next up is the basement thingy. It's a bit like the London Dungeon, only with a lot less meaning. We got warned that inside, they're live actors, and they "won't touch you, but they will come pretty close". That they did - my friend only screemed once (but it was a good 'un!). I think me smiling and giggling at the actors wasn't what they were hoping for. The woman who went in front of us was literally hysterical, so also pretty good mileage. Chaps, you'll see a whole different side to your female friends in here. Alas though, it's just an exercise in survival, as opposed to any sort of decent exhibition.
The last thing is the Spirit of London tour. This is where "the little cars" are that I remember from doing all these things as a kid. You get in a sort of black cab, and it takes you around all kinds of stuff. It's really pretty good, if a bit brief. It takes a couple of minutes to go from historical London (including the fire) all the way through to present day. If you've been to the Dungeon, then you'll know way more about most of it than they tell you. Still, it's pretty good, and don't forget to smile when you see the "smile for the camera" ;-)
So, all in all, it's pretty good. It's not really ?20 good, and the queueing is really annoying. Just about every spot in the place has an assoicated queue. I think you also have to think about why you want to go there. As my mum said "it's on every tourist's itinerary" because it's very famous (even though there are now others around the world, London's is still the one to go to for exactly that reason). The thing is, when it first opened (about 30-35 years ago), seeing famous people like that was good - you didn't necessarily know what person X really looked like, so seeing them in wax was cool. Nowadays, you know what all these people look like, you see them all the time, so apart from finding out that Kyle could fit in a matchbox and Tom Cruise really is a short-arse, there's not much to it. I guess getting your picture with someone is fairly cool, but again, not really anything new. The other attractions in there (the dungeony thing, and the Spirit of London) are okay, but not really much to write home about.
I guess if you're visiting London, it's going to be hard not to go there, because it's one of those things that "you've got to do".If you live in London (or anywhere in the UK, I guess) and you've never been, then I guess you could do worse things. However, if like me, you went as a kid and can't really remember much about it, don't bother going back - it's really not that good.