Opened on May 29, with a hyped-up ribbon cutting ceremony featuring Carina Lau (Beijing Love Story, 2046), there was undoubtedly a generous amount of excitement being shared for Madame Tussauds’ newest location. With over 170 years in the business, how is it that these meticulously crafted (and somewhat creepy) effigies of famous people are still an attraction in a world that has begun to so ruthlessly do away anything not on the cutting edge?
Perhaps what distinguishes Madame Tussauds from other wax museums set up in diorama fashion is your ability to touch or even kiss the celebrities on display. Imagine giving the finger to Vladimir Putin or striking a pose with Vogue-era Madonna. The devil is in the detail and Tussauds is famous for creating relevant lifelike personalities and promoting this sort of interactivity and fun with their sculptures.
Craig Dunkerley, head of openings for Asia and Europe, explained that you don’t just roll out a Madame Tussauds. Before they lay down the red carpet, representatives question locals about who from their country would best represent their history and culture. Beyond the big names of widely known celebs, like Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt or Kate Winslet, these people have an even bigger draw locally and won’t be found at any of the other locations. Some of these include the CEOs of Baidu (Robin Li) and Soho China (Pan Shiyi), musician Cui Jian, and film director Zhang Yimou.
Even though the price to play isn’t cheap (RMB 170 adults, RMB 110 children), there will still undoubtedly be a steady flow of visitors due to its convenient location in the bustling tourist zone of Qianmen. Expect to spend about an hour or two engaging with these anatomically correct figures, but please refrain from removing the clothing because both you and the management would probably be a tad disappointed. This doesn’t come from experience.
Daily 10am-9pm. 8 Qianmen Dajie, Dongcheng District (8755 9688)
[300m south of Qianmen station (Line 2)]
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on June 26, 2014.
Photos courtesy of thebeijinger.com