The last time I visited the
Hollywood Wax Museum, over a decade ago, I wrote a rather scathing
review of the place (you can see a copy of that old review here). And it deserved it.
opened their new museum nearby a few years back, and I honestly didn't
think that the Hollywood Wax Museum would survive for very long after
that. But it did (no doubt, in part, because its admission price
is significantly lower than Tussaud's).
I recently received an
email from someone at the museum, telling me that they had made
significant improvements, and asking me to take another look. I turned
down their offer of free tickets (I like to pay my own way when I'm
writing reviews), but I felt that out of fairness, I owed them a second
visit -- so off I went.
I must say, I was favorably impressed by the exhibits I first encountered.
my last visit, they have borrowed a page or two from Madame Tussaud's,
and have removed the barriers that used to separate the visitor from the
wax figures. The lighting on the figures also seems better than before.
On one side of the room stand Robert Downey Jr., Angelina Jolie, Jude Law
and Christian Bale. On the other side are the (somewhat
less-impressive) figures of Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman, Gwyneth Paltrow and
Samuel L. Jackson.
wax figure is quite good, as is Robert Downey's - almost on a par with
Tussaud's figures. The nearby "Pirates of the Caribbean" scene is
also well-done, with a good pirate ship setting, and a respectable
Johnny Depp (as "Captain Sparrow").
But on the other hand, the
Tom Cruise figure is dreadful, with an exaggerated nose and flattened
head that gives him a distinctly neanderthal look. The other
figures in this room vary in quality, but are generally pretty good
(even though Hugh Jackman's arms-akimbo pose looks awkward).
[Click on the photos to see larger versions]
Alas, there are still some genuinely terrible figures to be found here.
I don't think I would have even recognized the atrocious wax figure of Lucille Ball, had she not been placed in her famous "Vitametavegiman" scene from "I Love Lucy".
And the figure of Jim Carrey
(posed as "The Cable Guy") is genuinely dreadful. As are those of
Barbara Eden (seen as "Jeannie", squatting almost out of sight, with
exaggerated breasts on display in a low-cut costume), Will Ferrell (in
"Talladega Nights"), Tobey MaGuire (from "Seabiscuit"), and Shia LaBouf (from "Transformers").
Pierce Brosnan's figure is a pretty good resemblance -- but he doesn't seem to have a neck...
In fact, trying to figure out
exactly who you are looking at can often be a challenge here.
Fortunately, they place the names of the figures on display cards, to
one side. I found myself photographing the cards (as well as the
figures), just so I could be sure who was who, once I left the museum.
On the other hand, the figures of Elvis, Daniel Craig and Arnold Schwarzenegger are rather good.
I find that many of the
figures here lack the kind of lifelike
twinkle in the eye that the
Tussaud characters possess. While Tussaud's figures look breaktakingly human at times,
most of these figures more closely resemble well-made, look-alike mannequins.
As long as the figure is
dramatically lit for the scene by the museum's stage lighting, they
usually look fairly realistic. But substitute the harsh, flat
lighting of an electronic flash, and what appeared to be a lifelike
figure is suddenly revealed as obviously fake.
This is true at Tussaud's,
too, to a lesser extent. But
at Tussaud's, the room lighting is bright enough that I could hand-hold
all of my photos, and thus capture the figures in the same stage
lighting they were meant to be seen in. But here at the Hollywood Wax Museum,
the low lighting often made that impossible, so I was sometimes
forced to use flash, and wound up with
some unflattering shots of the figures as a result. And quite a few of
my hand-held shots turned out to be a bit blurry, due to the dim
Here is an good example of how
flash affects wax figures: the "Men in Black" (Will Smith & Tommy
Lee Jones), first as shot in the museum's original lighting, and then
with the camera's flash on:
See what I mean? Take
my advice, and hand-hold the shots whenever possible. (Today's
digital cameras allow you to see the result immediately, so if you don't
like the hand-held result, you can always resort to using flash for a
So, would I recommend that visitors see the Hollywood Wax Museum or Madame Tussaud's?
But then again,
Tussaud's charges $25 admission, compared to the $16 here. That is a significant difference, especially for those on a budget.
So, I suppose that it boils down to why you want to go to a wax museum in the first place.
If you want see
lifelike reproductions of your favorite stars, to admire the art and
sheer realism of the figures, and to get photos with the wax celebs that
will almost fool your friends into believing you're standing next to
the actual star, then there's no question that Tussaud's should be your
But on the other hand, if
you are visiting the Boulevard as an uncritical tourist, and just want
to stumble into a wax museum with your friends for a little kitschy fun,
to pose with a few decent figures, and perhaps poke fun at those don't
look much like the real thing... then sure, save some money, and just go
The bottom line? This museum has significantly
improved since my last visit, but it's still not that great. It
will almost certainly never match Tussaud's in quality - but at least
they seem to be putting more effort into it.
(One last word of caution:
Don't bother going to the Guinness Museum across the street. I got
free admission to it included with my Wax Museum ticket, and I still found it a huge waste of time. I pity any poor soul who actually pays the full admission price for that place.)
There is a large underground garage beneath the giant Hollywood &
Highland complex next door, but be sure to get your parking ticket
validated to limit the damage to your wallet.
Adults (13-64) : $15.95
(Discounted tickets are available online , including combination tickets to the Hollywood Wax Museum and the Guinness Museum and/or Ripley's Museum (both are right across
Open every day of the year, from 10 AM to midnight weekdays,
10 AM to 1 AM on weekends).
The Hollywood Wax Museum is located a block and a half east of Grauman's
Chinese Theatre, on the north side of Hollywood Boulevard, just east of
Highland Avenue, and across the street from the Guinness
From Hollywood & Vine, go west on Hollywood Boulevard (about three quarters of a mile), and the museum will be on your right (north) side.
more information on this subject, you can access the Wax Museum's official
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