London Dungeon facts
Opening in 1974, the attraction was initially designed as a museum of macabre history, but the Dungeon has evolved to become an actor-led, interactive experience. The Dungeon is operated by Merlin Entertainments. In 2013, the London Dungeon moved from its premises on Tooley Street to a new location near County Hall and the London Eye.
The London Dungeon features 18 shows, 20 actors and 3 rides. Visitors are taken on a journey through 1000 years of London’s history where they meet actors performing as some of London’s most infamous characters, including Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd. The Dungeon’s shows are staged on theatrical sets with special effects. The show incorporates events such as the Black Death and the Gunpowder Plot, and includes characters such as "The Torturer", "The Plague Doctor", and "The Judge". Guests are encouraged to participate in the shows. The experience also includes a "drop ride to doom", a free-fall ride staged as a public hanging.
The London Dungeon was founded in 1974 by Annabel Geddes. It was initially designed as a museum of macabre history depicting gory scenes. Early characters included Boudicca, Mary Tudor and Thomas Beckett and had scenes from the Norman Conquest. Over the years the Dungeon has changed into an actor-led, interactive experience with both humorous and light horror elements. London’s first ever indoor water ride was installed at the venue in 1997. Kunick Leisure Group owned The Dungeons company during the 1980s, before it was bought by Vardon in 1992. In 1999 Vardon became the Merlin Entertainments Group following a management buyout led by Nick Varney.
On 31 January 2013, the London Dungeon closed its doors after 39 years at Tooley Street, London Bridge. The attraction moved to London’s County Hall on the South Bank, next to the London Eye in March 2013.
Tooley Street tour
The original London Dungeon opened in 1974 as a gory horror museum that showcased historical events. The museum was a free flow attraction and featured models and animatronics to showcase its scenes. 1997 saw the arrival of "Judgment Day : Sentenced to Death" which saw visitors tried in a courtroom. They would then board boats and sail down the Thames, passing various scenes and exhibits. Following this, they would then "pass through Traitors gate", where they would be raised via a vertical lift system to meet a "firing squad", who would shoot at the boat before it plummeted backwards. This marked the audience interaction that the Dungeon's became renowned for and a change from horror museum to actor led interactive experience. Remnants of old exhibits lined the walkways and added to the atmosphere of the attraction as it evolved.
2000 saw the introduction of the "Great Fire of London" segment that recreated burning streets of London in the 17th century and a spinning tunnel that led to the exit. The original Dungeon also featured a 'Blood and Guts cafè. Other exhibits also evolved to be much more audience interactive. These included the Torture chamber which changed from using model demonstrations to audience members with mock torture devices. "Bedlam" was placed between the Court and boat ride and simulated chaos in Bethlem hospital with dark walkways and strobe lights, with loud noise and actors roaming the passageway.