Stephanie Gilbert is Finance Manager for Group Travel World. Jack Gilbert is her son; he regularly does reviews and works as an assistant for GTW.
We were both really excited about this month’s ‘Team on Tour’, as we were given the opportunity to review two great, renowned attractions in London.
The first stop was Madame Tussauds, the most famous collection of waxworks ever created, which has remained a truly fascinating and informative attraction since its beginnings over 200 years ago. It was Madame Tussaud herself that studied the art of crafting model semblances out of wax whilst living in Paris, and at the age of 17 her expertise in art proved so adroit that she was given the privilege of tutoring King Louis XVI’s sister at the Palace of Versailles, France. Due to her tenacity and determination in creating this amazing array of waxwork figures, this fantastic attraction now has branches in America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
As we entered via a Hollywood-style red carpet, we were suddenly overwhelmed by a host of stars who looked so realistic that you would be forgiven for asking your favourite celeb for an autograph! We didn’t go quite that far, but we were definitely guilty of completely letting go of any inhibitions while photographing them in a paparazzi-style frenzy and hilariously posing with an array of stars including Shrek, Usain Bolt and Prince Charles to name but a few. We were truly bowled over by the variety and multitude of figures housed in the 12 expertly themed galleries, before reaching the Chamber of Horrors and Scream.
Our upbeat mood rapidly changed to one of great anticipation as we joined the queue for Scream, where we were venomously instructed by a gaunt, bloodied ghoul “NOT to touch any of the not-so-friendly people we were about to meet”. We were in the unfortunate position of being at back of our group and instantly began to feel slightly anxious as we entered a dark chamber. Immediately we could hear people at the front start to scream as deafening sounds began to erupt around us and morbidly-dressed performers started to terrify and startle the visitors. One of us screamed from start to finish, much to the embarrassment of the other … I will leave you to work out which was which!
After that heart-stopping experience we were off to see Marvel Super Heroes 4D Experience, shown in a 360 degree cinema. Before the show began, the audience donned 3D glasses and were seated in comfortable reclining chairs. Then we were off, experiencing a high impact special effects journey which included water sprays, jets of air, tremors and thumps! Even if you are not a fan of the Marvel comic series, or the related films, this manifestation of action-packed hero adventures takes you to a completely different level of 3D simulation.
In conclusion, Madame Tussauds is a first-class attraction, a really momentous, unforgettable, outstanding experience. You will want to visit again and again.
Reluctantly, as time was against us, we needed to say adieu to Madame Tussauds and head over to our next destination, The London Bridge Experience and London Tombs. Having been forewarned that we were about to embark on London’s scariest attraction, we decided to use the loo and have some refreshments beforehand; a double G&T for the older member of the team and a coke for the younger. It was definitely a case of ‘Dutch courage’ being needed for one of us after our last encounter with terror. We took the underground from Baker Street station on the Northern line to London Bridge and easily found Tooley Street. This attraction won the UK’s Best Scare Attraction award consecutively for five years.
Once inside, the first part of the journey is The London Bridge Experience, which takes you through the gruesome past of London and 2000 years of grisly history. We found it to be extremely educational, learning about a variety of individuals and different eras, from John Rennie (responsible for designing and building London Bridge, he died in 1821 before it was finished), to the Roman invasion, Jack the Ripper, the Fire of London and even the Vikings. You plunge into the midst of a fierce battle with Queen Boudicca and can even have a go at a ‘hung, drawn and quartered’ horrific execution! We encountered the repugnant smell of the ‘Great Stink’, which occurred in the summer of 1858 when the odour of untreated human waste was incredibly strong in central London. This first half of the expedition was entertaining, fun, very informative and well-orchestrated, with lots of surprises along the way.
The second part of the attraction is the London Tombs. If you have any desire to be literally scared to death then this is the venue for you! Any preconceived ideas of fear you may have before entering will become immeasurable. We were subjected to the most ghastly encounter ever! Without giving too much away, because we wouldn’t want to spoil the fun of your nightmare, you are thrown into a former plague pit of the London Tombs. As blood pours down the walls, you encounter ghosts, ghouls, spiders, snakes, and unrevealed horrors, making you enormously fearful of the next horrendous surprise. It is not for the faint-hearted or for those with a nervous disposition, but you will certainly have fun and be proud to say you survived this ten out of ten fear factor experience.