April 10, 2013

London Dungeon: Guilty of a Good Time

             I saw the face of Jack the Ripper. I learned how to use torture devices. I watched a live dissection. Oh, and I chopped off my friend’s head.

             Before you stop reading, let me explain. The London Dungeon has been deliciously gruesome for almost 40 years and makes sure that its audience is involved in the gruesome process. My parents, my friend, and I decided to be tourists for a day and check out one of London’s most popular attractions. Believe me, you don’t want to go alone!

             After relocating from Tooley Street to County Hall, the London Dungeon reopened on March 1st. It is now situated across from the London Eye and overlooks the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. I recommend booking in advance, because the line that snakes inside the attraction is a long one. If you are easily frightened or at all squeamish, sit this one out, but I assure you the London Dungeon is more fascinating than it is chilling. Before the 90-minute experience begins, each ticket proclaims the ticket holder guilty, calling us names such as “traitor” and “thief,” or in my case, “murderer.”

             The London Dungeon delves into the past 1,000 years of London’s dark history through the help of 18 new interactive performances and 20 actors. Through sights, sounds, and smells (unpleasant ones at that), the London Dungeon aims to capture a realistic setting. Highly informative and amusing, it relies on audience participation, so go along with the show!

             Everyone clung tightly to their friends or loved ones, shuffling to the very back of the rooms, not wanting to be targeted by the actors, nor knowing what to expect. Our journey started somewhat explosively by witnessing what would have happened if Guy Fawkes successfully blew up Parliament. After that, things only got better. One of the highlights was being asked to “take a seat” at Sweeney Todd’s Fleet Street barbershop. Admittedly, I was petrified when I felt my hair being played with in the pitch-black room. We spoke with one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, Mary Jane Kelly, before she died. After fumbling through a maze of mirrors, Jack the Ripper came to life, holding a knife to two poor women’s faces before he disappeared again.

             A highly humorous courtroom scene declared members of the audience guilty and forced them to take to the stand and explain themselves. Unfortunately, we all ended up being guilty and sent to the gallows to be hung. Encouraged by a cheering crowd, we hoisted ourselves onto a drop tower ride and were lowered to our deaths. It wasn’t how I expected to go, but hey, at least it was eventful!

             Speaking as a fan of all things gory and ghastly, I found the London Dungeon engrossing in its unconventional way of exploring a great city’s past. Every city has a dirty, grimy underside, and finding out about London’s has only made me love it more. 

             To buy tickets and find out more information, head on over to here.

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