As of August 16, San Francisco's Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf is officially closed. To commemorate the closing, guests packed the establishment the day before at 145 Jefferson Street to say goodbye. Children were still excited at the prospect of watching the many wax figures on display, however after 50 years and 12 million guests, the establishment yields the space to a new business venture.
Some of the familiar attractions at the museum are like old friends: past presidents, famous scientists, world leaders, artists, musicians, athletes and scenes from world religions. Special favorites are the "Chamber of Horrors","The Last Supper", and an exhibit on King Tut. The wax figure of Mao Tse Tung can be seen in a display of world leaders, including the present controversial president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, leading an antigay crusade in Russia that threatens to mire the 2014 Winter Olympics. The wax museum always managed to stay current on the signs of the times, a "living museum", where wax personalities come and go.
An enchanting emphasis on film stars has always been the main attraction to the world famous wharf hot spot. Upon entering the museum, patrons are greeted by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Inside there are many figures celebrating movies such as an homage to early cinema with the Marx Bros, The Three Stooges, Abbot and Costello and Stan and Laurel, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Keanu Reeves and former celebrity mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown. The characters of the "Wizard of Oz" are on display before leaving the museum.
Moving into the space of the wax museum will be Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum and The San Francisco Dungeon, both owned by Merlin Entertainments Group. Owners Ronald Fong, his wife Beverly and son Rodney Fong were on hand to shake hands and say goodbye, explaining that they "are moving on to greener pastures". Their office will still be located in the building, and they will be landlords to Madame Tussaud and all the other establishments that are located in the old grain warehouse that they reconverted in 1998 to a modern building - about half a block long.
The late Tommy Fong started the Wax Museum in 1963. Over the years his son Ronald and grandson Rodney joined the team. Employees and friends stepped across the street for a farewell dinner on Aug 15 such as long term staffers - Peter Tompkins, operations and merchandize manager and Curtis Huber, curator and talented wax figure master. As part of the new staff is Huber's niece Emma Greenham who works in the gift shop. Also in attendance was a former member of the security staff, London "Bobby" Jay Sullivan who met his wife Charlotte working as a cashier over 30 years ago in a "wax museum romance".