Unless you’re a 13 year old girl on a first date, or part of a group of young boys, I don’t really see the point in going to The London Dungeon. All the other age groups did not seem to enjoy what it was bringing to the table. Let me elaborate by going through the different age ranges present during my visit that day to The London Dungeon.
Babies. By no means is it appropriate to bring a baby to a dungeon of murder themes. It is dark and loud, and while the baby may not understand what is being explained and suggested around it, we don’t know that for sure, and it could end up brewing a serial killer. Not to mention the fact that after waiting in the morbid long line and meeting a few dark characters, the first part of the journey is a ride that a baby won’t be allowed to go on anyway. Then you will just find yourself waving goodbye to the rest of your family as they hop on the murder raft and who knows where you and your baby will have to go and wait.
Next. Very Young Children. This age group, let’s say from 2-8, will not understand that The London Dungeon is simply make believe and intended to provide excitement–not permanent nightmares and scarring. It was not fun for me to watch children, too young to be in there, shaking, crying, and getting very interesting lessons on Jack the Ripper murdering hookers, etc.
Now, we hit the sweet spot. Pre-teens and early teenagers. Let’s say 9-15. This age group would love the underground Central London attraction. You enter a spooky lair that leads to costumed characters reliving some of London’s scariest times. You go through Guy Fawkes foiled plans for Parliament, Jack the Ripper’s heinous crimes, Sweeney Todd’s appetite for murder, and much more. This journey includes a dark and eery water ride and ends with a simulated hanging. It is a very colorful and interactive experience for the right age group. The tween visitors will find it believable, but (hopefully) not damaging to their psyches.
Now, for my final assessment and target group for myself and my blog. Adults. I think I can even group late teens into this one. As an adult, I cannot consider this a must-do experience. In the beginning, you have to wait in a long, humid line that has very questionable smells. I would have liked my simulated hanging at that point so I could have been done with it right away. But, no, you wait. Finally you’re taken through an area with glass and screen cages filled with sleeping rats. The young workers are screaming in character the whole time and bratty kids are screeching and I just felt bad for the poor rats. They didn’t ask to be on display in such a noisy, exposed environment.
After the rats and the rules of the dungeon, you begin with the aforementioned water ride. This is also where you meet with one of the first characters whose job is to tell you that you’re going to die and she actually gets paid to be rude. My 21 year old sister that has an aversion to authority would be a perfect candidate for a role like this. I could see the tween dungeon-goers being intimidated and entertained by all these costumed characters, but I just saw them as little twerps I wish I could knock out. The water ride itself was cool though. I went with my dad who was visiting (fulfilling dreams of my childhood for more daddy-daughter days, I guess), and we both thought the experience would have been great if they made it into just one big water ride.
After the ride, it was an endless room after room journey of little characters that droned on way too long. The props were not of the highest quality, giving us the feeling like we were in a child’s funhouse. The entire experience was similar to my issues with the Sea Life London Aquarium. These London attractions are like the budget versions of what I have experienced Stateside and at Disney World.
The ending of The London Dungeon is just weird. You are sentenced to a hanging and then go on a ride that simulates your death by having the floor suddenly fall out from under your seat. It was really morbid and unnecessary, in my opinion.
I did, however, buy the picture at the end because it will be a hilarious memento for years to come. The time my dad visited me in London and we went to this weird bootleg dungeon, and then rode the hanging ride, where they secretly took our picture. Fabulous.
After purchasing our keepsake, we made our way to one final room–my favorite room of the trip. An old-time bar that actually rewarded you with a beer or a cocktail. I don’t know if it was their version of heaven or an apology for a bizarre two hours, but either way, a flat beer purchased with a token never tasted so good.
I made it through The London Dungeon and sort of lived to tell about it. Take what you want from my bold opinions and enter The London Dungeon at your own risk.
The London Dungeon
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7PB