Fisherman’s Wharf Wax Museum bids ‘adieu’

In a city already known for its homeless, suddenly Angelina Jolie, Barry Bonds and hundreds of other celebrities might find themselves without a home.

With SF MOMA closing three years for renovations, this week came notice of another museum’s farewell: the family-run SF Wax Museum.

The museum, with its old school charm and cheese, has marveled San Franciscans and tourists on Fisherman’s Wharf for 50 years. Thousands have paid $16 to stroll through galleries lined with an eclectic assortment of wax statues depicting celebrities and public figures.

Rodney Fong, the president of the SF Wax Museum, told SFBay he has “good and bad” feelings about seeing his family business come to an end.

Fong said his grandfather Thomas, a Chinese immigrant who landed on The City’s shores in 1929, opened the museum in a renovated chicken feed warehouse:

“Being in the wax [figures] business all our lives, we are excited to bring in the best of the best. … But it’s a little sad because we’ve just been here for so long.”

The business is preparing to shutter its doors August 15 to make way for a completely different set of wax statues from international wax museum chain Madame Tussauds.

Something called The San Francisco Dungeon, which may resemble its popular European cousins, is also planned for the site.

The new attractions are part of a multi-year lease between Merlin Entertainment and the Fong family, who founded the SF Wax Museum in 1963.

According to a press release, the projects are slated to open summer 2014 after a $35 million investment by Merlin, the second largest entertainment group in the world. Currently, the company owns 94 attractions and seven hotels in 21 countries, including California’s Legoland and Sea Life Aquarium.

As for the 250 wax figures currently housed in the SF Wax Museum, not even Fong is too sure where their fate lies.

Maybe they’ll go on sale. Maybe he’ll open another wax museum outside California, or maybe he’ll just lease them out:

“Frankenstein or Angelina Jolie could be yours!”

But Fong, who also serves as president of the San Francisco Planning Commission, said he believes The City is gaining two fantastic new attractions:

“We’ll work together to put on a great show.”

To check out the SF Wax Museum before its final goodbye, head over to Fisherman’s Wharf every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. For information, call (415) 202-0416 or visit www.waxmuseum.com.