(Photo Credit: Merlin Entertainments)
I recently visited The London Dungeons on South Bank last Saturday, and didn’t realise that a fairly sizeable section of the attraction had been changed. I can’t really remember the last time I visited the Dungeons before my recent visit, but it was nice to see what had been changed with new shows – especially when it is easy for the London Dungeons to become very stale with the shows being the same.
(Photo credit: Theme Park Guide)
I was thoroughly impressed with the effects and the show in the New Escape The Great Fire of London show. It was different and the interaction with the guests was fabulous, but maybe that was because of me being the one chosen for the interaction. There was also a change in the plague doctor scene where before you meet the doctor, you enter a ‘pest house’ – in essence it’s a lot of standing around, listening to the noises around you and if you are standing in the wrong place, you may get a little surprise. Thankfully I was okay!
However, I just can shake that feeling that I miss the Tooley Street London Dungeons a lot. Every time I visit the Dungeons, I start looking around and realising how good the old London Dungeons were. Obviously when you have an office building, it is going to be hard to replicate the natural darkness and effects that the old Dungeons had but there was so much more to it. With the help of my partner, Jared and our close mate, James, we wrote down a list of what we missed about the Tooley Street London Dungeons.
The Atmosphere & Natural Darkness
These two can be linked together as both worked hand in hand to make the old London Dungeons what it was. You didn’t need to paint anything black as the natural darkness did it for you, very similar to that of the Towers and their scare mazes. The atmosphere was very spooky under the railway arches, especially on my first visit when I truly felt like eyes were watching me in the darkness.
The Smells and Sounds
You didn’t need smell pods. The dark and damp nature of the old Dungeons made it feel authentic for the mood of the shows. It would play havoc with your senses as you really felt you were going through the history of London, instead of walking through a busy London tourist attraction. Baring in mind there were railway lines above you, that rumbling sounds of trains going by really got me on edge when I first visited. You couldn’t tell if it was a part of the show or not. Not only that, there were other natural sounds you heard through the railway arches. It echoed all the way through the tunnels so you couldn’t pinpoint where the sounds were coming from. Very creepy!
Instead of the ‘Fear is a Funny Thing’ tagline that is now part of the current London Dungeons, it was genuinely a scary attraction to visit back in Tooley Street. The actors weren’t trying to make you laugh or stick to a script, they would make you jump (and scream), they would go off script and improvise. That is what made the show so much better in my opinion. No two visits were ever the same when it came to the actors. Yes, the order of the shows were the same, but the script was different each time.
Traitor: Boat Ride to Hell
Hands up, who loved this ride back at Tooley Street? This ride has been permanently ingrained in my head from my first visit. I remember reaching the station area of the ride, knowing full well that I was about to go on a boat ride of some description. It was so dark in the tunnels of this area that you didn’t know which you’d be going. That is what made it creepy to begin with. Then when you start going up the lift hill, that’s when the adrenaline kicks in and the fear starts building. Due to the darkness, you couldn’t see the other boats or know where they went. To be honest, you couldn’t really hear them unless you heard the screams from the drop – but even then, could you really tell if it was them? That’s when the backwards section kicks in and you knew instantly you were going to drop backwards! As they say, what goes up, must come down. As much as the current ‘The Tyrant Boat Ride’ is fun, it isn’t dark enough for you to feel the anticipation of what’s to come. You can pretty much predict what is going to happen next, although I must admit I do like the sideways lift.
(Photo credit: Theme Park Guide)
Ahhh, you’ve got to love reminiscing about past attractions. I wish I had the chance to visit the Tooley Street London Dungeons more, but alas, I’ll have to settle with the current Dungeons – where I always get picked to be in a cage during the Torturer scene. Every time! I do also enjoy the current Jack the Ripper section in the Ten Bells pub – especially if you are lucky enough to sit down at one of the tables *hint hint*.
I’m sure many other enthusiasts will share the same sentiments I do about the old London Dungeons. Maybe you have other memories that I have not mentioned here, feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you loved or miss from the old London Dungeons.
That’s all for now!