From its Parisian roots in 1770 to 18 branches worldwide, the Madame Tussauds Museum has allowed millions of ordinary folks like us to cozy up to Hollywood stars, politicians and influential people. Or rather their wax likenesses.
Located within the Images of Singapore museum at Imbiah Lookout Sentosa, Madame Tussauds Singapore features 7 themed zones of world leaders, A-list celebrities, and notable personalities glorified in wax forms.
The museum also includes Singapore’s political leaders such as the first president Yusof bin Ishak and former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, as well as local cultural icons like Stefanie Sun, Phua Chu Kang and sports stars Feng Tian Wei and Fandi Ahmad.
While it’s not the first Madame Tussauds museum in Asia, the Singapore branch boasts the first and only boat ride of its kind, the ‘Spirit of Singapore’. This boat ride takes visitors through iconic scenes of modern-day Singapore, featuring replicas of the Marina Bay landmarks and Changi International Airport.
Unfortunately, the boat ride was closed on the opening weekend due to technical faults, but was expected to resume operations later in the week.
Despite the initial disappointment, we are impressed by the striking resemblance of the life-sized wax figures to their real-life counterparts. The experience is enhanced with elaborate sets and background music such as upbeat pop tracks in the music zone, and classy jazz tunes in the A-list celebrities zone.
Everything in Place
Despite the limited space, the museum manages to showcase a diverse group of wax personalities in politics, sports, TV, music and film.
In addition, there’s a dedicated area on the history of making wax figures, where visitors are furnished with nuggets of facts. For example, the wax heads are actually made 2% larger than life as the wax shrinks slightly while cooling.
While the wax figures are the highlight, details such as an operational lighting control system in the TV zone, a playable mini golf area in the sports zone and even motorcycles in The Terminator set add an extra punch to the interactive experience.
However, not every wax figure is given the same treatment. For instance, the areas which housed Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, and Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, feel rather bare in comparison to twenty-something Taylor Swift’s dressing room set-up and Jay Chou’s full band arrangement. Even the beloved Queen Beyoncé is tucked in a corner with no props in sight.
While many are awestruck by the wide array of famous faces, the most touching sight would be that of former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and his late wife, Kwa Geok Choo.
Based on a photograph taken by their niece on Valentine’s Day 2008, the wax figures immortalize an intimate moment between the pair. With the wax double of Singapore’s founding father smiling brightly in casual clothes, the public have a glimpse of a different side of the elder statesman.
Another notable mention is the wax figure of the late veteran actor Huang Wenyong. Honored for his contributions to the local TV industry, he has earned himself a spot amongst the likes of the Queen of Caldecott Zoe Tay as well as award-winning talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
And of course, who could forget the Ah Beng [stereotypically an uneducated Chinese gangster] contractor Phua Chu Kang with his trademark yellow boots?
Out of all the wax figures, Phua Chu Kang’s wax figure bears the closest resemblance to his real-life parallel, with spot on details such as his famous mole and curly mop of hair. Visitors can also take this chance to step into his shoes (literally) by wearing the yellow boots available.
We truly applaud of the effort of the museum in highlighting local personalities, but truthfully, we find ourselves gravitating toward the international icons over the local ones. When the lavishly decorated sets of Taylor Swift and Jay Chou are brought into the picture, the appeal of the local icons is diluted. Besides, the odds of bumping into a local celeb in real life is much higher than seeing an international star.
Up Close & Personal
With each wax figure costing about $300,000 to make, one would expect numerous passive-aggressive signs reminding visitors to avoid physical contact with them. On the contrary, the museum encourages visitors to be chummy with the wax figures (read: posing and taking selfies).
The experience is made more interactive with props available for visitors to use from the simple wig to a grand piano. You can shoot hoops with the towering Yao Ming, engage in a boxing match with Muhammad Ali or ride on the motorcycle next to The Terminator.
If you fancy owning a wax figure made in your likeness, visit the Wax Hands counter to cast a wax version of your hand to bring home.
Begin your tour either in the morning or early afternoon to avoid the haphazard queues.
Granted, there are hiccups since it’s the opening weekend, but the sheer amount of wax figurines is enough to compensate and make up for an enjoyable experience spending time with the stars.
The exhibition runs till 25 October 2015 and is open from 10 am to 9 pm, with the last admission at 7:30 pm.
Tickets for the exhibition are at $30 for adults, $20 for children aged 3 to 12, and $27 for senior citizens aged 60 years and above.
For further information, visit http://www.madametussauds.com/Singapore/