Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf

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Located in the heart of San Francisco’s most popular tourist district, the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf is an entertaining way to spend a few hours in the city. The museum’s new building includes 100,000 square feet of space which features more than 270 figurines over 15 distinct exhibits.

Note: The Wax Museum is now operated by Madame Tussauds.


Shortly following the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, Chinese immigrant-turned-entrepreneur Thomas Fong was so struck by the wax figurines he saw, that he decided to open a wax museum of his own in an old warehouse at Fisherman’s Wharf. As the waterfront area was still in its early stages of commercial development, Fong was near-visionary in his choice of locale and the museum was able to serve as an anchor for what would become a quintessential San Francisco tourist destination.

Officially opening on 12 May 1963, when the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf began it was the largest museum of its kind in North America, featuring 150 distinct figurines displayed in front of black curtains. It grew throughout the 1960s, as did the area surrounding it, topping 200 figures displayed over four floors by the end of that decade. It was at this time that the museum began its trademark staging of its figurines, setting up a series of thematic areas. The most popular of these as consistently been the Hall of Religions which contains a life size depiction of the scene from Da Vinci’s Last Supper.

Over the years, additional halls and exhibits were added right until 1998 when the needs of the museum exceeded its space. Closing for two years, the original building that housed the wax museum was demolished to make way for a $15 million purpose-built site that includes over 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, earning it the title of the world’s largest wax museum.

The Fong Family continues to own and operate the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf, adding to its holdings by employing prominent wax sculptors. The most prolific of those on their payroll is Kahn Gasimov, who was actually recruited from Madame Tussaud’s in London.

Today, the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf hosts over 250,000 visitors yearly, nearly all of whom are tourists spending the day at the wharf’s many attractions. With 15 separate scenes set to include everyone from Galileo to Catherine Zeta Jones, there are characters of interest for everyone in the family.

Main Attraction

For over 50 years, the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf has been located right in the heart of the San Francisco tourist district. It is open 365 days a year and, as a fixture on the tourist circuit, offers combination tickets with other attractions, particularly those also located at the wharf. Admission to the museum is also included on most area tourist passes. Those looking for single attraction entry will find that admission is required for everyone ages 6 and up with discounts for guests under 18 and over 65.

The 15 different exhibits at the museum include World Leaders, Scientists, and Dictators, along with Sports Heroes, religious figures, and the popular Chamber of Horrors in the basement of the building, located nine feet below the level of the Bay. In addition to regular admission to its galleries, the museum also offers groups rates and is available, either as a whole or by part, for private parties and fund raisers.

Why It’s a Must-See

As the world’s largest wax museum with over a dozen galleries of differing themes, the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf offers entertainment options and photo opportunities for every member of the family. In addition, its critical role in the development of Fisherman’s Wharf, along with its great central location, makes it the ideal stop on a day-long jaunt in downtown San Francisco.

Where to Buy It

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to this attraction.

Save up to 20% online at Smart Destinations. If you add more than one attraction to the cart, you will get an automatic savings of up to 20%. It’s called Make Your Own Pass.

Pay Full Price and purchase a ticket from Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf either online or in person.

Purchase a Tourist pass. The Wax Museum is available on the Go SF Card