Earlier this year, the London Dungeon moved from its classic Tooley Street location to its new home of the County Hall, we take a look inside.
During a hot summer’s day with blue skies and bustling streets of tourists, the new Dungeon’s improved capacity of 450 people per hour keeps queues down to under two hours.
The County Hall’s frontage does not lend itself well to the image of entering a dungeon, and the burning torches that add a touch of theatre are not working.
A staring jester awkwardly greets guests once they are inside the building, including barking at those tourists which cannot speak a word of English.
The queue continues for around 25 minutes within the building itself – these dingy corridors are highly themed, atmospheric, interactive and featuring in live rats.
Once you’ve paid, you board a faux lift, which shakes and thunders in darkness – an effective barrage on the senses that sends the school children on our tour into hysterics.
Losses and gains
The boat ride features early in the new layout and features new ride hardware that effectively produces the same result of a surprise backwards drop but increased levels of wetness – nevertheless it is surprising and still feels refreshed, partly thanks to a cameo from Brian Blessed.
Humour is effectively mixed with dramatic theatrics and the silhouette effects of an approaching Sweeney Todd and the intense trickery of the reworked Jack the Ripper scene are some of the most unsettling moments of the experience.
While the mirror maze, torturer and courtroom scenes may be now ageing veterans – but that’s not to say they aren’t classics – of the Dungeon brand, surely one of them must eventually make way for something else.
Guy Fawkes is a highly relevant nod to the Houses of Parliament which stand opposite the new Dungeon but the absence of a reworked Fire of London scene is hard to forgive.
It does however genuinely feel like the reported £20 million cost of the new Dungeon has actually been spent, and spent well. The levels of theming and absorption are as high as that of Tooley Street, and only looking up to the ceilings reminds you of what century it is.
Squirts of water simulating vomiting plague victims as you walk through a medieval street leave you wondering if you’ve been sprayed with urine when the separate smell effects combine fantastically.
Thrill seekers may be disappointed to find that the drop ride – formerly titled Extremis and now Drop Dead – loses its punchy sharpness with its new ride cycle. Nevertheless the new design is highly intriguing and it remains a fitting finale in the latest incarnation of one of London’s greatest tourist attractions.