Having taken a day off work to look after my 10 year old daughter due to the fact that teachers were striking yet again about not having a fat enough pension or something, she asked me if we could head to the London Dungeon.
Perhaps not the first place that would spring to mind as a fun day out for a 10 year old girl, but then she’s always been a bit of a thrill seeker, and the London Dungeon was another thing she wanted to cross off her list. So off we headed to London Bridge, and being a school day for most, and outside of the traditional summer tourist season, there was no queue time at all, and we soon found ourselves walking into the unknown darkness of the London Dungeon.
With my daughter clamped to me as if she was about to fall off the edge of a cliff, we started the tour with a visit to the Crypt, a few jittery moments with nerves of not knowing what to expect, but the Crypt wasn’t too bad, eased in gently you may say.
The Labyrinth of Lost Souls was the dungeons mirrored maze, in dim lighting, you have to find your way around a maze of deception with mirrors around you. Like lambs to the slaughter, we just nervously followed the people ahead of us, and as you’d expect, the sheep took us all the way back to where we had begun, feeling like we were never going to get out, one of the dungeon team rescued us with a cackling call to tell us which direction to go.
At this point, I have to say, I don’t know whether to call the staff at the London Dungeon tour guides, actors, tormentors or just brilliant fun people who must enjoy scaring people for a living. Their costumes and make up are that of a quality West End show, and their enthusiasm and talent is what makes the London Dungeon what it is.
From the mirrored maze of the Labyrinth, we were greeted by a speech from someone who was scratching her way through the great Plague of 1665. She leads you through the streets of London towards Pudding Lane and what ended being the only disappointment of the day, the Great Fire of London. As a group, we stood watching a mock film of a London resident talking about how the fire started, as the room started to fill with smoke I was thinking this is going to be good. However, the final words of the video said something like “take a walk through the great fire of London” and then we left the room and on towards the next feature with no mention again of the Great Fire of London. No idea what happened there, but it was as if the London Dungeon had cut a scene maybe ?
As we nervously stood awaiting the next area, a rather gruesome looking tour guide spoke to one of the men in the party and he was ushered to one side. My Daughter noticed this and gripped me tighter telling me not to leave her. We then entered a surgery with a corpse on the table, and the man who had just been taken to one side now tied to a chair beside a grim looking surgeon. This is where the acting from the London Dungeon team really kicked in, the surgeon pretended to slice the poor man’s wrists, leaving blood dripping into a bucket, then as he “cut” his throat we were all sprayed with water, which with the comedy timing and in the darkness felt like being splattered with blood.
Onto the torture chamber and two more innocent visitors were sat in chairs and instruments of torture were demonstrated about their person. Hardly bone chilling excitement, but all part of the fun.
From there we headed to an 18th Century courtroom where two excellent staff were there to amuse us, dragging three slightly nervous members of the audience into the dock, it was more fun then frightful.
Things started to move up a gear in the fear factor stakes when the Dungeon then take you on a boat ride through the underground tunnels. In complete darkness, and having bagged the two front seats, we spent 5 minutes wondering what was going to jump out on us. Going upwards, downwards and backwards, the boat ride ended with one of the staff making everyone jump as they burst out from behind a door that you didn’t even know existed.
With my Daughter now beginning to wonder why she’d chosen the London Dungeon as something to do on school strike day, we headed towards the pie shop whose meat was provided by Sweeney Todd’s barber shop next door. As we entered the barber shop, we all where seated around a barber’s chair with the expected cut throat razor beside it.
The lights dropped to zero, and in the darkness my Daughter was now gripping me. Speakers from around the room made it feel like Sweeney Todd was moving amongst us, with motion in the seats and breezes being blown on us. Brilliant stuff, clever how they scared you by just allowing you to use your imagination.
With things now leaving us on the edge of our seats, we were lead towards London 1888 where Jack the Ripper preyed. One of the Dungeon’s brilliant staff played a journalist beside one of the dead bodies in the street, and they took us to an East End pub where the bar owner told us tales of what had been happening during this period of time in Whitechapel.
I don’t want to spoil anything for readers planning a visit to the London Dungeon, but let’s just say this was our favourite part of the tour, and the bit where we both jumped the most, and my Daughter had the loudest scream of the day. Brilliant work by the staff, great effects and an awesome part of the entire trip.
From Jack the Ripper, the staff lead us towards Bloody Mary the killer Queen, and more fun was had by one of the unwitting members of the audience. Probably chosen as he had two young daughters with him, the man was lead to the top of the bonfire to be burned at the stake. As it was “lit” smoke filled the room, orange and red lighting provided the flames, and as they rose, a moment of darkness. When the lighting came up a moment later, the man had vanished, leaving a charred body behind, and his two daughters standing watching laughing nervously. Genius.
Finally we heard about hanging in London, and were given the option of freedom or hanging gallows. We chose the sign pointing to the gallows. Inside were were seated in roller coaster seats and the safety bar locked us in safely. Another of the brilliant London Dungeon staff then whispered reassuringly to my daughter “It goes up”. At that point I realised what was going to happen and told her it was going to be like one of the rides at a theme park, as I mentioned before, for a 10 year old she’s a thrill seeker, so she wasn’t bothered. Up high we rose in the seats to be met by the hanging gallows and after a moment or two, they pull the pin, and we came falling back down at a very fast speed.
The photo they take as you drop was hilarious. My Daughter’s hair was flying above her head and my face was a picture, wondering if we were about to hit the ground.
Overall the London Dungeon was great fun, made brilliant by the superb staff and all their efforts to make you think that you really are in danger, and playing on your fears.
It’s not cheap for around 90 minutes entertainment, but I found the London Dungeon to be much more entertaining then a visit to Madame Tussauds, it gets a big thumbs up from my review.
For more details on the London Dungeon, don’t just read my review, take a look at their website – The London Dungeon