Famous wax museum to add life to S'pore story

Fans of Madame Tussauds in London will soon be able to catch the famously lifelike wax figures of local and international personalities in Singapore.

The wax museum will make its local debut in the second half of next year, opening at Sentosa's Imbiah Lookout.

The new attraction will be installed alongside the existing Images of Singapore (IOS) exhibit, where wax figures and multimedia chart the nation's history.

The two attractions will be packaged together, showcasing Singapore's history and culture, said global attractions operator Merlin Entertainments yesterday.

The firm will invest more than $20 million in the 4,500 sq m building housing IOS, covering both the new Madame Tussauds Singapore and a revamp of IOS.

There are now 15 Madame Tussauds attractions worldwide, including five in Asia, where the British firm has expanded quickly in recent years.

They are in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Wuhan and Shanghai. Madame Tussauds Beijing opens early next year.

Merlin, owner of Madame Tussauds and a host of world-famous attractions such as Legoland, has been in talks with Sentosa Development Corp for a year.

Merlin's divisional director Meike Schulze told The Straits Times: "Sentosa is such a vibrant place and it's a great implemented and embedded leisure attraction already. And that is just creating the perfect home for us."

Wax figures of actress Kate Winslet and singers Katy Perry and Jay Chou were unveiled at a media conference yesterday, but the figures going on display here will be announced only later.

Sentosa Development Corp chief executive Mike Barclay said it will include famous people who "have had a hand in shaping Singapore".

And for the first time outside the flagship London attraction, visitors here can expect a ride through some exhibits. Merlin did not disclose details, but said it will reflect Singapore's history.

In London, visitors hop into an iconic London cab and journey through the city's history.

Merlin will also enhance IOS, originally launched in 1983 as the Pioneers of Singapore and Surrender Chamber.

Mr Barclay said the exhibit has been revamped every decade or so to keep it up to date, most recently in 2005.

"IOS is a lovely product, but it needs to be revamped and brought into the 21st century."

IOS brings in about 500,000 visitors a year - a figure that has dwindled over the years.

But Mr Barclay is confident Merlin - the world's No. 2 attraction operator behind Disney - will help boost visitor figures.

Ticket prices for the combined attractions will be about $30.

Ms Ranita Sundramoorthy, director of attractions, dining and retail at the Singapore Tourism Board, said new attractions such as Madame Tussauds are a great addition to leisure offerings here.

"It is heartening to see major tourism players continuing to invest in the creation of experiences that appeal to both Singaporeans and tourists," she said.

Dr Michael Chiam, a senior lecturer in tourism at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said the new attraction could draw repeat visitors from neighbouring countries.

"Many of them have been to Singapore numerous times, so it's good to keep updating with new attractions," he said.

"And it'll also appeal to Singaporeans. We like taking photos, and posing for photos with celebrities is a novelty here."

asyiqins@sph.com.sg


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