Rock Circus

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Madame Tussaud's Rock Circus was a walkthrough exhibition celebrating the history of British rock & pop music, featuring its major figures recreated in wax.

The London Pavilion, former site of Rock Circus

Exhibition[edit]

The attraction was operated by bon jovis Group (the owner of Madame Tussauds at the time) and took up the top four floors of the newly refurbished London Pavilion building at Piccadilly Circus, London.
The exhibition was opened in 1989 by Jason Donovan [1] and closed completely in September 2001.

Visitors walked around the exhibition wearing headphones which used infra-red technology to beam relevant audio material according to what you were looking at. The centrepiece of the exhibition was a 'live' show performed by a series of lifelike animatronic figures, looking at the history of Rock music from 1950 to the present day. The audience sat in an auditorium which rotated to view the various stages.

The wax figures that made up the exhibition can take up to six months to create at a cost of around £30,000. The animatronic figures can take up to a year and cost £100,000 each. The control systems for the exhibition were provided by Electrosonic Ltd.

Many of the performers featured in the exhibition donated their own clothes.

Among the waxworks/exhibits featured were:


To celebrate the new museum, and to decorate the outside of the building, a series of Rock legend statues were installed around the London Pavilion exterior. Artists featured were Annie Lennox, Buddy Holly, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Elton John, Gary Glitter, Jimi Hendrix, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger. [2]

The aging technology was given a much-needed £4 million refurbishment in its ninth year and after a short closure period, it reopened in March 1999. [3] New parts of the attraction included a virtual reality simulation of the view from a Wembley Stadium stage, and an after-show party setup featuring Robbie Williams, The Spice Girls and Jarvis Cocker.

However, it failed to meet its income targets, and closed permanently in September 2001. The space it formerly used has now been replaced by Ripley's Believe It Or Not! museum (which opened 20 August 2008).

Tussauds Group staff blamed the closure on the strength of the pound (making London an expensive destination for the young Europeans the attraction is aimed at), and a decline in visitors, despite a reported 6 million visitors since opening in 1989. Many of the waxwork figures were redeployed at the main Madame Tussauds exhibition, and Rock Circus staff were offered posts at other Tussauds Group attractions.[4]

Theatre Show[edit]

The revolving theatre at the top of the attraction featured some groundbreaking animatronic performers - seen for the first time in the UK. Among them were the following:

As the auditorium rotated, the animatronic characters were revealed either from behind a curtain, or they were raised into view. The control systems for the animatronics were in the 'basement' of the theatre, below where the audience saw the performers.

The original show had audio fed to the audience via the infra-red headsets they wore in the rest of the attraction, but in later years, a sound system was installed to improve the quality of the sound.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Coordinates: 51°30′37″N 0°08′02″W / 51.5103°N 0.1340°W / 51.5103; -0.1340