Posted in Travel

Braving the London Dungeon

I am not a person who likes being scared. When I get really scared, which is pretty easily done, I cry and I panic and I feel like I’m going to die, and it’s no fun. That’s why I don’t watch scary movies. So what possessed me to try the London Dungeon, one of London’s scariest attractions? I honestly don’t know. Some kind of brain aneurysm, clearly. But it actually turned out to be a lot of fun!

I didn’t have to brave it alone, though, thank goodness! I would never have done it alone, that’s for sure. Shiri, the girl from the tour, and I braved it together, and boy did we ever break out into fits of hysterical shrieking. But in the end, I really did enjoy myself. For me, I need to have the tension broken by humour. The person I’m with needs to be able to make me laugh, otherwise I’ll go full panic mode. And Shiri was very helpful in this. Plus, the actors in the London Dungeon are actually quite funny – the whole time they’re scaring you, they’re also making jokes, which was much appreciated by a big wuss like me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s scary, and I was nervous-laughing the whole time and jumping at every little thing, but if you’re looking for a fun scare, the London Dungeon is the place to go.

If you don’t want to know what happens in it, then stop reading here, but if you’re curious just what kind of terrors the London Dungeon has in store for you, then read on my friend! Oh, and a word to the wise – buy your tickets online! The price at the counter is much more than the price online – don’t make the same mistake we did!

You begin by waiting in a little queuing section until your show starts. It’s really dark, there’s sounds of banging, thrashing, and screaming all around you, and as you walk by some of the doors, they’ll shudder as though someone is trying to force their way out. Everyone’s excited. Then there’s me, who’s just prancing through the line with my arms held in close trying to shake off my nerves – and breathe, breathe, breathe! At this point I still don’t know what to expect, so I’m pretty freaking terrified – suspense, it’s the worst. We’re in a big group though, so that does help to quell some of my nerves; as long as I stick to the middle, I’ll be fine.

We go into a corridor and walk by some displays. There are squishy, squirmy things that you can touch if you want (I did not), and there’s also a man walking up and down along our line, jumping out at people every so often. Fun stuff.

We enter a room where we encounter a jester, who explains the rules of the dungeon. She then tells us we’re all traitors and are to be condemned by Henry VIII. Oh joy, I’m thinking.

We get shuffled into an elevator, and down down down we go! We walk through corridors filling with mist, and Shiri and I are grasping each other already. There are sections that are pitch black, and having to walk through those are terrifying, unsettling sounds all around.

We arrive at the River Thames and there is a man here putting everyone into boats. He’s clearly looking for the ones that look most scared because he takes Shiri and I first, putting us in the very front of the first boat. Thanks dude!

The boat heads out, speeding up. Everything is dark, with only flashes of lights to guide us. We pass by carts of barrels that are rolling towards us. The boat is rocking and water gets sprayed at us. Every time in the pitch black when a water droplet touched me, I would jerk-spazz because it is the worst being blind and suddenly feeling the touch of something cold on my skin. We pass through Traitor’s Gate and when we round the corner, there’s ol’ Henry himself, looking quite furious. He shouts and condemns us to death.

Then things went completely dark and the boat whizzes forward and it was absolutely terrifying. I was so tense. I kept expecting something to pop up in front of my face. Then it got even worse. To our horror, we started sliding backwards, down an incline, and we’re rushing through passages again, light flashing once more, and as terrifying as it was going forwards it’s a hundred times worse going backwards.

The boat comes to a sudden stop and we’re greeted by the headmaster, and here we learn how heads were prepared for the stake. Some tension is relieved, as the headmaster makes lots of punny jokes, my favourite, and I’m happy to learn this tour is educational and funny, along with being scary.

Next we encounter a letter carrier, who is trying to get the letter to a fellow Catholic member of Parliament, to warn about the terrorist plot that’s being planned, but soldiers are trying to break down the door and the letter carrier has to run off, and we have to too, to try and avoid being captured by soldiers.

We end up in the basement of the Parliament buildings, where a guard tells us they caught Guy Fawkes and the plot to blow up Parliament was stopped. But then Guy Fawkes himself appears (at least his head does) and he talks about the torture he had to endure. He convinces the guard that the plan never would have worked anyways because the fuse was too damp – “Why don’t you see for yourself?” So the guard lights it, and Guy Fawkes is all like suuuucker! And then the room blows up! Everything shakes around us and we exit in a plume of smoke. Great effects.

The next room is the torturer’s room. She talks about the torture devices and puts a couple of people in cages, all in good fun (I’m relieved not to be chosen for a demonstration).

Then we walk through a bunch of dark alleyways. There’s rats scampering everywhere, and the air is filled with the sound of coughing and sneezing. The girl in front of me walked past a window and there was a sneeze sound and water spurted out at her, and I was glad that wasn’t me. But then I got my own when I rounded a corner and a thunderous sound went off and steam gushed out at us and Shiri and I both screamed, jumped, and clung to one another.

This was, of course, the plague section. We walked past a dummy of a plague doctor, the guys with the long beak-like creepy masks. At least, I thought it was a dummy… I didn’t want to get too close in case it wasn’t.

An apothecary person talked to us about the plague. Back then they thought it was cats and dogs who were spreading the disease, and as a result many of these animals were killed. We hear in the distance a couple of dogs getting into a scrap, so the guy goes off to deal with them, and we’re left alone, surrounded by coffins. Suddenly, some of the coffins start to shake and then two pop open, and there are two people hiding, trying to escape the plague, so we hear some more about those times, and then it’s on to the next section.

This next part was one of my favourites. We now walk through rat-infested corridors. We walk across a bridge, and through the magic of special effects, it feels like rats are scurrying over our feet, which is rather unsettling. We make it to Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop unharmed though. She talks about her business, how much she adores Mr. Todd, and how she hopes we’ll all soon be able to MEAT him. She was quite funny. At one point, a body starts to slide down a shoot above her and she shoves it back up, screaming “No, no, no Sweeney, I’ve got CUSTOMERS!”

We shuffle into the barber shop, escorted by Toby. We all get seated in barber seats. Uh oh, this cannot bode well for us. Toby says how he’ll do anything for Mrs. Lovett, then there’s a noise, and Toby gets really scared, saying Mr. Todd is coming, and he runs off, and once again we’re left alone, with the demon barber of Fleet Street approaching. We see through the window a silhouette of a man coming to the door, then everything goes dark. The door creaks open and footsteps enter. “Ahh, customers,” comes a menacing voice. “How about a shave?” We can hear him walking around us, and occasionally it would feel like he was running his fingers through our hair, which was terrifying, and then suddenly our chairs jerk backwards! Cue menacing laughter, and an absolute heart attack on my end.

We now walk through more dark alleyways. Off in the distance we hear paper boys yelling “Whitechapel murders continue – where will he strike next?” I shudder, because I know that means we’re treading the path of Jack the Ripper.

We come to an open space and meet a lady of the night. She talks about the murders and the victims. Victim number 3 has just been found, and if you’re aware of your Jack the Ripper facts, then you know that means murder number 4 is about to take place that same night – could you be the next victim? The prostitute runs away, terrified, answering the call of a client in the distance. We’re left to find our own way through the labyrinth of streets, with a killer on the loose. This was a very cool part of the tour, where we had to make our way through a maze. It was all mirrors and mist, making it tricky to tell what was a real route and what was just illusion. And through the mist, in some of the mirrors, you would catch a glimpse of a dark figure with a cape and a top hat slinking behind you. The Ripper.

We made it to the Ten Bells, the pub where the prostitutes frequented and where it is said to likely be the hunting ground of Jacky boy. The bar maid tells us our lady of the night from before didn’t make it. She tells us more about the Ripper – who was he? Why did he stop? Where is he now? Will he ever strike again? As she talks, there’s a thunder storm outside, and every so often the room goes black, and when the light returns, the bar maid is standing somewhere else, looming over people and making them shriek. Then the storm gets worse – loud noises are banging against the walls, shelves are falling, thump thump THUMP – everything goes black. In a flash of lightning, there! It’s the killer! He’s in the room with us, wielding his knife! Another flash and he’s coming towards us, getting ever closer. The final flash and he’s gone, completely disappeared. Very impressive work by those actors!

We now move into a court room. Several of us are called up by the judge and receive various sentences. The judge is quite funny, and I’m starting to relax. We all get sentenced to the gallows. The hangman tells us how it’s going to work.

Our last section is the Drop Dead ride. We are seated in the “gallows”. The drums are being beat, and BAM, in pitch blackness we fall. The floor disappears and we along with it. As we fall, flashes of light reveal our fellow traitors before us, hung at the neck.

And that was that. Overall, I quite enjoyed myself, and I’m really glad I did it. My favourite parts were the boat ride, the Sweeney and Ripper sections, and the Drop Dead ride. Basically the entire time Shiri and I were having fits of hysterical nervous laughter in between bouts of screams and gasps. Good stuff indeed. I highly recommend – just try not to lose your head 😉

L 101


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