In real life, getting up close and personal with Brad Pitt, snapping photos of yourself with George Clooney and touching Johnny Depp are all behaviors that could earn you a restraining order, but at Madame Tussauds Interactive Wax Attraction at the Venetian, they're actually encouraged.
The two-story, 30,000-square-foot Las Vegas attraction is one of just seven in the world and features several exhibits with uncanny wax likenesses of stars from the worlds of sports, music, movies and more.
Madame Tussauds prides itself on the interactive aspect of its displays. Guests are allowed to touch and take photos of the wax figures and some of the figures will even react when people get close. Whisper into Jennifer Lopez's ear and she'll blush. Hold Elvis' hand and he'll talk to you in his famous Southern drawl.
Photo opportunities abound at Madame Tussauds. The "Big Night" room features replicas of Hollywood's hottest celebrities. Guests can pose with Johnny Depp or take a snapshot with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. They look so lifelike, you can tell the folks back at home that you met them and they'll never know the difference.
The "Sports Arena" includes an area where guests can putt with Tiger Woods, shoot baskets with Shaq or stand next to tennis great Andre Agassi. There's also a new NASCAR attraction with figures of racing's legendary drivers.
The "On Stage" area includes an interactive "American Idol" exhibit where people can sing karaoke-style and get constructive criticism from Simon Cowell. The room also features other famous musicians including Prince, Bono and Jon Bon Jovi.
The most unique part of the attraction is the Las Vegas Legends room, where guests can see figures that can't be seen in the other Madame Tussauds locations around the world. Here, you can see all of the performers who have made Las Vegas famous including Liberace, Siegfried & Roy, Wayne Newton, Bugsy Siegel, Lance Burton, The Rat Pack and more.
According to Stephanie Freitas, guest experience manager for Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, the "Marry Clooney" exhibit is the most popular. The exhibit is set up like a real wedding chapel and people can slip on a wedding dress and pose with a tuxedo-clad George Clooney. "Some of the men even put on the dresses and take pictures. Only in Vegas," said Freitas.
The "Marry Clooney" exhibit also serves as the setting for real weddings. People who choose to tie the knot in Las Vegas can now conduct their nuptials at Madame Tussauds and choose two wax figures to act as witnesses or members of the bridal party.
Madame Tussauds has about 100 wax figures on the floor at any given time. The attraction adds about four or five new ones each year, partially based on suggestions from guests. Some of the most recent additions include Master Chief from the Halo video game, a twinkling-eyed Matthew McConaughey and Spiderman. "We like to pick people who we think have come to legendary status. We like to keep up with pop culture," said Rosita Chapman, head of marketing for the attraction.
The figures aren't retired very often, but they are removed from the floor periodically so their hair can be washed and makeup can be retouched.
Chapman said one of the only figures that has been taken out of the attraction was Harrison Ford. The figure had been on display outside the front entrance to Madame Tussauds when a "pretty excited" guest got a little too close and knocked it over, shattering the head into thousands of pieces.
Madame Tussauds also features a "Behind the Scenes" display, educating guests on the attraction's 250-year history and giving a peek at how the wax figures are actually made.
It takes from six months to a year to complete a figure at a cost of $150,000 - $250,000. The figures are made in Madame Tussauds' London studio and then shipped to Las Vegas.
Celebrities who sit for a wax portrait are subject to a lot of scrutiny. About 160 measurements and 150 -- 200 photos are taken.
The actual sculpting process takes about 350 hours and the figure is first built in clay on a metal "skeleton." The finished clay body is then molded and cast into fiberglass.
A plaster piece mold of 12 sections is made from the clay head. A special mixture of beeswax and Japan wax is heated to 75 degrees and is poured into the head mold. Once the wax cools inside the mold and the plaster sections are removed, a hollow wax head is revealed.
Hair samples are actually taken from the celebrity and carefully matched to real human hair. Each strand of hair is inserted individually into the wax head by hand -- the hair is then washed, cut and styled.
The eyes of a wax figure take about 14 hours to make. Each iris is hand painted and veining is added to the whites of the eyes with fine silk threads.
Everything is exact- right down to the teeth. A cast of the celebrity's teeth is taken and each tooth is replicated using dental acrylic and is accurately color matched.
After visiting Madame Tussauds you might wonder what it would be like to have a wax figure of yourself to save for posterity. For those on a budget, it's possible to get a wax molding of your hand in the gift shop. For those who have hit the jackpot while in Vegas, Madame Tussauds offers the "Immortality" package. It is possible to turn yourself, a loved one or a pet into a wax figure.
A wax figure of a pet runs about $50,000 and a human figure costs around $300,000, which includes a trip to the London studios. While the cost of a wax replica of yourself might be a little steep, "Immortality" is priceless.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas Strip with a relaxing gondola ride at the Venetian.
From the soothing sound of water lapping the sides of the gondola to the eloquent singing of the gondoliers, passengers will feel as if they have truly been transported to Italy.
Modeled after authentic Venetian gondolas, there are several gondolas on the lagoon at any given time. Each gondola seats four, so smaller parties may be paired with others.
With the warmth of the sun overhead and sparkling water below, passengers on the outdoor gondola ride glide along a 31,235-square-foot lagoon located at the front of the Venetian resort on the world-famous Strip. Watch out for winds or rain, the outdoor gondolas are subject to closure due to inclement weather.
-- By Kristine McKenzie