Entertaining Older Children In London: A Guide To The Weird And Wonderful


Visiting London with young children is fairly easy. There is so much to see and do and everything is absolutely amazing to them. However as children get older their needs will change and they really need to be thrilled to have a great time with their families. Luckily for parents, there are three unbelievable museums sure to amaze even the most unimpressed child. In fact their reputations are so outstanding that the queue to gain entry can often be over four hours long. The absolute advice on this is to book tickets before going, as they are readily available online and often there is an option to add “queue-jump” to the ticket price. This ensures a much quicker entry to the attraction, thus enabling a full day out rather than a rushed one.

Firstly, there is Madame Tussaud’s on Marylebone Road, just a two minute walk away from Baker Street tube station. This attraction is so famous that it now has branches the world over. Celebrities know they have made the big time once they have been captured in wax and then displayed in this famous building. Once also home to the Planetarium, the green dome next door is now part of the Tussaud gallery, such was the need for expansion. Visitors can mingle with royalty, drape their arms around their favourite heart-throbs and see the process of making one of these incredible works of art. It is interactive and regularly includes new additions to the exhibits, making it an ever-evolving place to visit.

Madame Tussaud’s did not start its life capturing the essence of celebrities. Marie Tussaud, the founder and woman who gave her name to the museum, was born in Strasbourg, France in 1761. She was taught the art of waxwork by her mother’s employer and soon started gaining notoriety for her creations. During the French Revolution she was given the task of making death masks from executed nobles, who were often her friends from Court, such was the status she had. After moving to England with her husband, she took her waxworks around the country before settling in Baker Street. She started the famous Chamber of Horrors by creating wax heads from the death masks. Sadly a lot of her creations were destroyed over the years, but her moulds remained intact so many have been recreated.

As children get older, the quality time spent with them becomes much more necessary in order to make lifelong memories. Incorporating a stay in one of the hotels near Lancaster Gate Tube Station is a great idea, meaning that after a fun-packed day everyone can relax and unwind in wonderful luxury. The Park Grand Lancaster Gate is one such hotel, conveniently situated a short distance away from Lancaster Gate tube station, itself only two stops from Baker Street tube station.

London Dungeon

The second of the three museums is The London Dungeon on the South Bank. Having changed premises a few years ago, this is a fully interactive museum designed to scare the living daylights out of its visitors. It focuses on the macabre aspect of London’s history with fine detail. This is another attraction where the entry queue can take hours to get through, so booking is a must. Visitors enter and are immediately plunged into a chilling atmosphere. Even the most stoic of people will not fail to be genuinely petrified, such is the quality of the acting by the museum’s staff. Although totally chilling, educationally it is second to none; this is as much a part of Britain’s history as anything else and the reviews from patrons speak for themselves. It is definitely worth going to, however if children get there and decide it really is too much there are still plenty of things to do near the London Dungeon, such as the London Eye, London Aquarium, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. There are also plenty of theatres not too far away which house award-winning plays and musicals, which are sure to entertain older children.

Explore Piccadilly Circus & China Town

The third museum is Ripley’s Believe It Or Not London situated next door to Piccadilly Circus tube station. This is perhaps the lesser known museum out of the three, however it is by no means inferior. Founded by American entrepreneur John Arthur, it showcases curios collected by the cartoonist Robert Ripley from 201 countries in the first few years of the 20th Century. Ripley hailed from California and had a huge interest in finding unbelievable things from the world, including diverse cultures as well as trinkets. The London museum has five floors of galleries and interactive displays, including a maze of mirrors and an interactive graffiti wall. The treasures inside include shrunken heads and an eight-legged conjoined calf, which are guaranteed to fascinate the minds of children and adults alike. Dinosaur fans can marvel at a nest of eggs and a Megaladon jaw. Around every corner of every floor there is something to see, each one set to challenge the mind. As with the London Dungeon, Ripley’s is an educational experience, however it is clever in the way that children don’t tend to realise just how much they are learning about different cultures and even science; for them they are simply looking at strange things that set off their own curiosity.

As children grow up their minds become more complex and hard to please, however armed with this arsenal of the weird, wonderful and downright grotesque, parents might actually be cool for once in the eyes of their kids. Add to that a hotel stay, possibly dinner out and a London show, they might actually beg for more parent time. Now that is a true marvel!