Sunday, October 30, 2005

An Orange County Landmark Closes Forever

Orange County's Movieland Wax Museum opened in 1962 with all the hoopla of the place it was imitating — Hollywood. Searchlights combed the skies above Buena Park, actress Mary Pickford cut a ceremonial ribbon, and a freshly sculpted wax figure of James Dean greeted the guests. But on Tuesday, citing increased competition from nearby amusement parks and shopping malls, the Orange County landmark announced that on Halloween, it would close its doors forever.

Movieland Wax Museum, a Buena Park landmark for over 43 years. (10/29/05)<br />

Movieland Wax Museum, a Buena Park landmark for over 43 years. (10/29/05)


Even better: For the final days, they slashed ticket prices from $12.95 to $5. Considering that neither Tim nor I had ever been there during its 43-year reign, we decided to check it out Saturday morning.

Tim buys tickets — normally $12.95, but they slashed prices to $5 for the final two weeks. (10/29/05)
Tim buys tickets — normally $12.95, but they slashed prices to $5 for the final two weeks. (10/29/05)

The museum was founded by the late Allen Parkinson, a star-struck entrepreneur who made a fortune with Sleep-Eze, an over-the-counter sleep aid. At the time of opening in 1962 — the height of the Kennedy era — the museum cost $1.5 million. By 1970, he sold it to Six Flags for $10 million.

I loved the Lucy wax figure. (10/29/05)
I loved the Lucy wax figure. (10/29/05)

At its peak in the 1960s, Movieland Wax Museum drew as many as 1.2 million visitors a year, and Hollywood stars such as James Stewart, Sammy Davis Jr. and Carol Burnett often showed up for their enshrinement in wax.

No wax museum would be complete without a tribute to Oz. (10/29/05)
No wax museum would be complete without a tribute to Oz. (10/29/05)

For many years, Movieland Wax Museum held its own in a part of Orange County dominated by high-voltage amusement alternatives such as Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure and Knott's Berry Farm. But over the decades, business slowly declined, and the museum became a third-day attraction.

These are the newest additions to the museum: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (aka The Olsen Twins) who were added just this year. (10/29/05)
These are the newest additions to the museum: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (aka The Olsen Twins) who were added just this year. (10/29/05)

After viewing it for ourselves, and seeing all the old-time movie and television stars from a bygone era, we're not surprised that it's shutting down. But I'm glad I got to see it before it shut its doors forever.

This was a pretty good likeness of Green Acres' Eva Gabor and the late Eddie Albert who just died last May. (10/29/05)
This was a pretty good likeness of Green Acres' Eva Gabor and the late Eddie Albert who just died last May. (10/29/05)

Incidentally, in case you're wondering, most of the 250-plus wax figures will be sent north to the wax museum in San Francisco, which is owned by the same family.

Outside, they had an exact replica of Michelangelo's David, carved from one piece of carrera marble — the same as used by Michelangelo. (10/29/05)
Outside, they had an exact replica of Michelangelo's David, carved from one piece of carrera marble — the same as used by Michelangelo. (10/29/05)

It was definitely an interesting experience. The wax figures had definitely seen better days. And very few of them are recognizable to people under age 30, which I think is probably the main reason it's shutting down. But I'm definitely glad I got to see it before it closed for good.

2 comments:

Loren said...

I can't believe that they closed that place down! And, without me getting to see the wax figures of the Olsen twins. There is no justice!

TIM said...

When I mistook Lucielle Ball for Debbie Reynolds, you know this place is dated and the wax must have melted a bit...

But, I've lived in Orange County since 1983 and never went there, so it was well worth the $5 entrance charge...