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david west Oct 18th, 2000 06:10 AM

M Tussauds is rubbish! A Londoner confesses all...
It's time we native Londoners camne clean and admitted that there are a load of "attractions" that are thinly disguised tourist traps, and that we wouldn't be seen dead in. In no particular order here are a few... <BR> <BR>Madam Tussauds:- I don't honestly know a single londoner who has been as an adult. We all have horrible memories as kids though. <BR> <BR>The Dome:- As if! Have you any idea where it is? It's in South East London, a horrible drug and crime ridden desert that I wouldn't go to for a pension. Still it's handy for the New Den, Millwall FC's ground (nice friendly folk. Not!) <BR> <BR>Buckingham Palace open house:- See it from outside, the tour's a rip off. <BR> <BR>Angus Steak Houses:- They're in the centre of town because they get no repeat business. Truly dreadful experience. I think they may be responsible for the (incorrect) belief that English food is bad. <BR> <BR>London Dungeon:- See M Tussuads <BR> <BR>Britain At War:- Go to the imperial war museum about half a mile away. Less well advertised, but publicly owned and very good. <BR> <BR>Rock Circus:- Japanese teenage girls only apparently. <BR> <BR>The Trocadero:- As above <BR> <BR>London Zoo:- A terrible disappointment, shoddy and old fashioned, all the good animals were removed to Whipsnade years ago. <BR> <BR>There are others but this will do for a start. <BR> <BR>Does anyone have any other to add? <BR> <BR>Also, what's well known, but rubbish, where you come from? <BR> <BR>There are also places that tourists don't go that are brilliant, but that's another story...

Cindy Oct 18th, 2000 06:42 AM

David, <BR> <BR>The London Dungeon was the worst tourist attraction I have seen anywhere, anytime, ever. I was only in the "Jack the Ripper" section as part of a tour of other sights. I just can't express how dreadful and offensive it was. <BR> <BR>Before I saw it, I thought we were going to a dungeon in London. Like a real one with historical significance. Instead, this is someone's idea of a bloody version of DisneyWorld, except that the full-size wax figures are lying there disembowled and covered in fake blood. So you basically file through and look at a recreation of murder scenes. There was even some sort of animated moving display (that was broken when we went) that I can only guess showed you a murder or autopsy in action. <BR> <BR>Sorry to be so harsh in my assessment, but I hadn't read this anywhere on the forum before, and people should be aware of what the London Dungeon really is.

Jane Oct 18th, 2000 06:46 AM

Couldn't agree with you more except for M Tussauds. I have been to London around 7 times and have always avoided going to M Taussauds having no interest whatsoever. Last year we visited London with our 12 year old son and compromised - morning at the Tate and afternoon at M Taussouds. Much to our surprise, we found it interesting - you get to see exactly what our "American forefathers" looked like (in a waxy kind of way)- quite different from paintings that may be a "touched up" version. <BR> <BR>I'm not saying it is a " must see" by any means. But it in no way compares to the dreadful London Dungeon which is just about the worst I've ever seen (also visited with my son - embarrassed to admit that I wasted even a pence on it).

Meg Oct 18th, 2000 07:00 AM

All true, except for the rather hysterical comments about S.E. London. Sorry, I don't much recognise your description David, but then again, I do go there from time to time. Do I get a pension? <BR> <BR>Also, the Dome is on the Greenwich peninsula, served by its very own tube stop on the lovely new Jubilee Line Extension. If being two miles from New Cross bothers you David, I believe you can also go by gunboat and be escorted to the door by armed police. <BR> <BR>As to whether the Dome is a tourist-trap, that depends on who you ask. I rather enjoyed it. <BR> <BR>But I would like to say that I totally concur about all those nasty tacky Angus Steak House outfits. Overpriced deep-fried frozen food. Horrid!

elaine Oct 18th, 2000 07:13 AM

I agree with much that has been written here, esp. about the London Dungeon, but tourist traps abound just about everywhere. <BR>I think there are many things that one tries on a first visit so as to not miss anything "important", but they are good learning experiences for subsequent visits, or may serve as warnings for others. I live in New York and so many visitors want to stay in hotels around Times Square, one of the busiest, tackiest,and least-typical areas. <BR>Too many poor restaurants (some of which add insult to injury by requiring long waits in lines), the noise and dirt are much above-average, the shopping is tourist-trap heaven, and <BR>very few New Yorkers would spend any time there unless they are on the way to the theater. I read that a Madame Tussaud's will be opening here shortly. oh dear. I don't have anything against the Madame, and I know some people enjoy things that others hate. A true tourist trap has to be a combination of <BR>poor quality and high price, but quality is always in the eye of the beholder. <BR>The great thing about Fodors forums is that inquiring minds can get first-hand assessments of do's and don'ts. Even when opinions vary (Madame Tussaud, or a particular restaurant, for example) there is often enough information provided to help people make up their own minds. Guidebooks rarely offer contrasting views or on warhorses like Madame Tussaud or Planet Hollywood restaurants, nor do they often suggest alternatives. <BR>david, what's brilliant in London that we visitors often miss? <BR>Tourist traps, a very good topic.

Sal Oct 18th, 2000 09:39 AM

I, for one, love tacky tourist attractions. I suppose I would be disappointed if I expected them to be anything other than what they are. I was about 14 years old when I visited Mme. Tussaud's in London (a very long time ago) so I don't know if it's as great now as I remember it being then. I haven't been back to London since. I love wax museums, believe it or not museums, pan for your own gold nuggets, carnival sideshows, alligator wrestlers, etc. They all have a certain seedy fascination don't they? Compared to some of these, Mme. Tussaud's is a class act.

Judy Oct 18th, 2000 10:17 AM

Hello David, have not been to the Madame's, and probably will never go. In fact, I will trade you "The World of Coca Cola" here in Atlanta, for a Madame's any day.... oh well, maybe not. "The World " is just one giant commercial for Coke. At least you have a "likeness" of the Beatles! Ticky, Tacky, everwhere, for sure. Judy

Bloodyank Oct 18th, 2000 10:26 AM

To each his own. I loved the London Dungeon. Tacky, tasteless, crude and juvenile. What could be more fun? <BR> <BR>I also enjoyed the 'smell o rama' at the London City History museum. Mmmm... smell the plague, the fire, the pollution. I still remember it 7 years later.

Julian Oct 18th, 2000 01:26 PM

David - another Londoner agrees with you wholeheartedly. I really cannot understand why people queue up for hours to get into M Tussaud's. It's crap. But you missed one out - the area from Leicester Square to Piccadilly Circus. Notice how 90% of the people there are tourists and the only Brits are trying to get from one end to the other as fast as possible. This area is like a black hole which sucks in every teenage tourist who comes to London. It's dreadful!

top Oct 18th, 2000 08:23 PM


Bill Oct 19th, 2000 01:23 AM

The Madame Tussaud's at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas is WONDERFUL! However, I wouldn't wait in line for hours to see it, or anything else for that matter!!

david west Oct 19th, 2000 01:56 AM

A couple I forgot: <BR> <BR>Carnaby St:- A shoddy run down tourist trap selling nothing but toursist tat and living on a reputation 35 years old. Now solely populated by disappointed tourist children. There are places to go if you want to spot rock stars etc but carnaby st is definately not one of them. <BR> <BR>Camden Market:- Oh dear! A million people (literally) go here every sunday and 999,995 go home miserable. It's overcrowded (them rotten school kids again!), all the stalls sell exactly the same crap; black clothes, Dr Martens, and cheap "ethnic" jewellery. There are very few places to eat, the pubs are heaving and there's every chance of getting robbed. <BR> <BR>Ironically there are lots of good reason for going to Camden eg; home of Britains indie music industry, good pubs and clubs, a centre for nightlife, intersting shops etc, but these are all unavailable on Sunday. <BR> <BR>Harrods:- Sorry just don't get it. For food go to Fortnums, clothes and luxury goods, bond st. Hordes of tourists and nazi security guards, Harrods is THE place for that. <BR> <BR>When me and my pals think of any more I 'll let you know. <BR> <BR>I'm still interested in famous places that are rubbish where you come from. <BR>

Matthew Sinclair Oct 19th, 2000 02:15 AM

Well, the only thing I wholeheartedly agree with you on is the Angus Steak Houses. They are, without exception, absolutely dire and give an extremely bad impression of what British food is like. <BR> <BR>Yes, the area around Leicester Square is swarming with foreign teenagers, but they enjoy themselves so good luck to them. Billions of pounds come into this city through tourism and I really don't think it's for us to dictate what is and isn't in good taste. <BR> <BR>And as for your hysterical remarks about SE London, I can only hope that you're having a bit of a jape, because a true 'Londoner' would never write something so completely groundless. Referring to it as "a horrible drug and crime ridden desert" is almost comic. Have you ever been to Greenwich, for example? It's wonderful there, oldy worldy, has the Evening Standard's 'Pub of the Year' (The Trafalgar), and it really is a very appealing and interesting place to visit. <BR> <BR>I live in West Dulwich, in SE London, which is the absolute antithesis of a "drug and crime infested" area. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman have just bought a house down the road. OK, so I have a bee in my bonnet, but to write-off a whole swathe of London in generalist terms will give visitors to the city a completely inaccurate and jaundiced picture. There are bad bits of course, but then the areas of North and West London aren't exactly crimeless utopias, are they? <BR>

Sal Oct 19th, 2000 05:27 AM

I live in NY and don't know what's rubbish of our tourist sites since I never frequent any of them. I suppose the Hard Rock Cafe / Planet Hollywood type places are full of tourists and have overpriced, crappy food, though I've never been to one so can't say for sure - but Matthew has a point, kids love these places, and they generate a lot of income for the city. The other touristy things in NY like Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Staten Island Ferry, Empire State Building, World Trade Center, museums, Chinatown, etc. are really great.

david west Oct 19th, 2000 05:57 AM

regarding south east london, no it's not all bad. there are oasis of niceness in the otherwise unremitting gloom of grimness. If it were possible to go in a gunboat/tank this would be as good a way as any. <BR> <BR>In tonights Evening Standard (Londons newspaper) there is an article from the residents of Peckham (typical SE Area)demanding that the authorities DEMOLISH THEIR HIGH STREET to deter crime and drug dealing. Not a problem, yeah right. <BR> <BR>For tourists yes Greenwich is a delight, and highly recommended, the rest? horrible. <BR> <BR>I worked in Lewisham for a while URGH!

Cindy Oct 19th, 2000 06:09 AM

First, what is a jape? <BR> <BR>Second, I live near Washington, D.C. We don't have anything that I think is so totally devoid of value as M Tussauds or London Dungeons. <BR> <BR>We came close, though. A few years back, Disney proposed building a new theme park in Virginia, an hour or two from D.C. It would have been Disney's take on U.S. history. I don't recall the details, but it would have had various lands to celebrate various parts of U.S. history. It was held up to much ridicule ("Honey, let's go down to the plantation and have lunch in the Big House") and there was much sniping about the "correct" view of U.S. history. The project was defeated by locals for a variety of reasons, and Disney pulled out. <BR> <BR>But then again, if there is a market for the London Dungeons, perhaps Disney should re-think their decision. Let's see. They could have Serial Killer Lane to recreate the various crimes of the most notorious killers in the U.S. Fun for the whole family!

Sal Oct 19th, 2000 07:55 AM

Cindy, there is a lot of money to be made catering to just such tastes. What an idea!

Karen Oct 20th, 2000 07:39 AM

For me, its not so much the attractions but certain areas that are terrible tourist traps. The Leicester Square/Piccadilly area has quite a good vibe to it but most of the restaurants and cafes are pretty awful. This area contributes to the misconceptions about food in London being bad and expensive. Some of the chains in this area, like Bella Pasta and Pizza Piazza, are fine but the rest - YUCK. <BR>Those awful Aberdeen Angus steakhouses are a total rip off, it's true what David originally said about them being in the centre of town. You wont find them locally because no-one would ever give them repeat business. And those cafes that line the streets with the pizza that sits outside all day and the touristy fish and chips places are just as bad. <BR> <BR>However, I dont agree with David's comments about south east London - some parts are quite grim but the Dome is in Greenwich/Docklands, which is fine, nowhere near the bad parts of town. Dont lump it all together, you don't step off the tube at North Greenwich and enter a gang warzone. I haven't been inside the Dome but the area around it is perfectly safe for tourists. <BR>No, Lewisham and Peckham are not particularly nice areas but tourists have no need to go there, and you were originally talking about tourist traps, so whats your point? <BR> <BR>I don't live in South London myself, but I cant see why you are trying to put people off. I went to Greenwich for the first time in years during the summer and had a great day. I recommend it to visitors to London for a good day trip, combined with a brief stop at the Docklands, which has become a pleasant new business development. The new Jubilee line and its stations are quite impressive.

vanessa Oct 20th, 2000 08:47 AM

Damn, I read this now, when I'm back from London! I got sucked into one of those Angus Steak houses near Leicester Square. Horrible service and very over-priced food.

elvira Oct 20th, 2000 08:55 AM

Sometimes, you just need a break from all the history and fine art, and Mme Tussaud's is it. If someone said to me "I'm going to London for three days, and plan to visit Mme Tussaud's instead of the Tower of London", I'd politely suggest they rethink the itinerary. If, though, they've been in London for 10 days and have museum'd, castle'd and Tower'd themselves out, a trip to the wax museum is a great break. As a coworker says when she gets the urge for a trip to McDonald's "you know, sometimes yah just need a hit of grease and fries". <BR> <BR>I agree that the Angus Steak Houses suck, and the London Dungeon is a bit misleading (my sister, who loves all things British, visited it and dubbed it a waste of time and money - she was expecting a 'dungeon' dungeon, and was disappointed in the sideshow atmosphere) - if you visit it, go with the same idea as Mme Tussaud's - it's mind candy. <BR> <BR>I liked the Buckingham Palace tour, mostly because every other castle you visit is uninhabited; no one's lived there for nigh on 500 years, so they are cold and vacant-feeling. Buckingham Palace is in use "and here's where visiting dignitaries enter...", so it has a different feel to it. <BR> <BR>As for tacky tourist stuff in my home state, I guess you could call Rawhide just that. It's a recreation of a cowboy town, complete with staged gunfights...if you are expecting a glimpse into the American West of the 1800's, you'll be disappointed. If you are expecting a silly, fun, no-brainer kind of entertainment, then Rawhide is the right place to go. It's all in the perspective, I guess.

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