Friday, Jan. 16, 2009 | 2 a.m.
- Hours: Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. amd Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Cost: Tickets are $25 for adults, $18 for students and seniors and $15 for children ages 7 to 12. Children 6 and under are free.
- Location: At the Venetian, 3377 Las Vegas Blvd. South Suite 2001, Las Vegas, NV 89109
- Contact: (702) 862-7800 or madametussauds.com
There was no entourage, no grand speech and no time for questions. And the president-elect nearly missed his historic inaugural event.
President-elect Barack Obama’s wax likeness almost didn’t make its debut in time at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas because it had been trapped at U.S. Customs at McCarran International Airport since Monday. Volunteers quickly had to assemble the wax figure just moments before a scheduled event that featured three students’ essays, four canters from Guardian Angel Cathedral and the president of the Nevada chapter of the NAACP, Frank Hawkins.
“He was the number one request overnight as soon as he got the nomination for the presidency,” Madame Tussauds Las Vegas general manager Adrian Jones said.
Obama’s wax statue will be the fifth president at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas in the “Spirit of America” room, just a few feet away from President George W. Bush’s statue.
“We try to take the opportunity to make a real event out of it. With Bush we did the inauguration as well, but we just really wanted to take the opportunity, especially being such an epic moment in time for all of our country with Barack Obama coming into the office,” Madame Tussauds Las Vegas manager Rosita Chapman said.
During the ceremony, three Elaine Wynn Elementary School students read essays about Obama and the importance of his soon-to-be presidency.
“I think he will do an awesome job because he wants to make many changes to our country,” fourth-grader Antonette Lopez said.
The students’ participation was worked into the school curriculum, which includes a wax museum project where kids study biographies and write a poem and essay about a public figure. Students then become that person in a mock wax museum for their parents.
“We always come here the day before our wax museum so they get excited to do theirs,” fourth grade teacher Jaime Jester said.
Madame Tussauds Las Vegas has about 1,000 visitors per day and hopes the popularity of the new president-elect will bring in even more, Chapman said.
“Not only do I think it will draw the Obama loyals, but also people who just want to see up close who may not have the chance, get to see the details behind who he is and be able to know that’s someone who really made history in our country,” she said.
There are eight wax statues of Obama that will appear at Madame Tussauds locations worldwide, each taking three to six months to create and costing about $300,000. Obama was the first person to receive the honor of simultaneous unveilings at all eight Madame Tussauds locations across the globe.