Daryl Hannah with weird bangs matches wits with a sea monster.
Daryl Hannah with modesty hair extensions matches wits with a sea monster.

Wax Works

Field review by the editors.

Newport, Oregon

Wax Works opened in 1984 and still has some of its original dummies, which Dave Heater, the general manager, seemed hesitant to admit. We told him we thought it was great. Part of the joy of visiting a vintage wax museum is seeing how it compresses history, squeezing several generations of wax celebrities into single displays.

Bridge over gators at Wax Works.
Terrifying bridge over plastic alligators.

Older wax museums also serve as a useful gauge of lasting fame. At Wax Works, for example, E.T. still greets visitors with his glowing finger but the Ewoks are long gone. Golem survives, but the rest of the Lord of the Rings cast has sailed to the Undying Lands (a Wax Works storage room).

Wax Works is an independent, non-franchise wax museum, which makes it a better source of quirky fun than a corporate Madame Tussauds. Daryl Hannah, for example, still in her Splash mermaid suit, poses with colorful dragons because, as Dave explained, "one of our artists just kind of made them." And Wax Works features unique tributes to the Pacific Northwest, such as loggers at work, Lewis and Clark hanging out with Sacajawea, and both Bigfoot and D.B. Cooper lurking in the deep woods.

Looking for the Precious at Wax Works.
Looking for the Precious at Wax Works.

Bigfoot at Wax Works.
Tip for Bigfoot spotters: watch for the glowing red eyes.

Aging technology has caused casualties. The attraction's great 12-projector multi-image slideshow of Mount Saint Helens exploding is gone, replaced by a single-screen video. And Dave told us that Wax Works' most enjoyably gruesome dummy, an animatronic treasure hunter holding his own disembodied head, was retired in late April 2017. "He was getting really old and hard to keep running," said Dave, who promised that the attraction would do its best to keep him around, somehow.

"We're thinking about opening him up and letting people see his animatronic insides," said Dave. "And we may hook up some buttons so kids can move his arm and make his eyes roll."

Wax Works

250 SW Bay Blvd, Newport, OR
Along the bayfront, on the north side of SW Bay Blvd, at its intersection with SW Lee St.
Summer daily 10-7, fewer hours and days off-season. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $15.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

America's Only Riverboat B&BAmerica's Only Riverboat B&B, Newport, OR - < 1 mi.
Aquarium VillageAquarium Village, Newport, OR - 1 mi.
Nessie, the Yaquina Bay MonsterNessie, the Yaquina Bay Monster, Newport, OR - 1 mi.
In the region:
Bazalgette the Spewing Whale, Yachats, OR - 22 mi.

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September 24, 2020

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