Miranda Noland: Wax museum offers close-up celebrities

An attendee of the Hollywood Wax Museum puts a chokehold on a wax figure of Jack Black in his “Nacho Libre” costume. Courtesy | Hollywood Wax Museum

Having lived in New York City for several years, I ran into many celebrities on the street, in restaurants and even on the subway platform. Each time, I got a little starstruck and opted to stare instead of asking for a picture. I sometimes regret not having a little proof of my encounters with those famous people. 

Enter the Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson. Staring is unavoidable, and snapping a few pictures with the stars is encouraged.

The Hollywood Wax Museum is perfect for the celebrity-obsessed and for those who just might want to learn a thing or two about the stars they have grown up watching. From classic Hollywood to modern moviemakers, everywhere you turn is another recognizable icon perfectly costumed and ready for their close-up — with your camera, of course. An ID card with their name and a few little-known facts accompanies each star, everything from their pet names to the secret of their success.

Aileen Stein, Corporate Communications Director for the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center described how it decides which celebrities get the wax treatment. 

“There is a committee similar to the Walk of Fame committee who decides on the figures, costumes and settings based primarily on customer surveys and requests,” Stein said. “Generally, the most recognizable stars with the broadest appeal are selected.”

Once a star is chosen, turning them into a wax statue doesn’t happen overnight. The process takes more than three months and seven artists to complete. 

A clay sculpture is formed using photographs and actual measurements for accuracy, and a mold is made from that sculpture. Wax is poured in the mold, and after the several hours it takes to harden, the famous face is revealed.

Paint, glass eyes and porcelain teeth are added to bring the sculptures to life. Hair is inserted with a needle one strand at a time, even for the eyebrows and facial hair. Hands are created the same way the faces are. 

No detail is overlooked when matching the skin color, fingernails and hand gestures of the Hollywood star. The last step is creating the costume and adding props to make the celeb instantly identifiable.

The Hollywood Wax Museum has been updated and expanded since its arrival in Branson in 1996. 

“The Wax Museum was refurbished, and Castle of Chaos and Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors were added in 2009,” Stein said. “That year, Castle of Chaos was recognized as one of the best new attractions in the world by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Shoot for the Stars Mini-Golf was added in 2010.” 

The Castle of Chaos is the world’s first 5-D adventure, where you are strapped in for some frightening fun shooting at the evil coming your way. Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors can be equally frightening when you fear you may never find your way out. Shoot for the Stars Mini-Golf lets you putt your way through the parties, palm trees and paparazzi of Hollywood.

The Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center is hard to miss with its New York skyline, complete with King Kong and its Hollywood-ified Mount Rushmore on the exterior. Visit one or all of the attractions it offers if you want to bring a little Hollywood into your life.

Miranda Noland is a travel columnist for the Globe. Contact her at mnoland@joplinglobe.com.

Want to go?

The Hollywood Wax Musuem Entertainment Center is open 365 days a year at 3030 West 76 Country Boulevard in Branson. For more information, call 417-337-8277.