How to make the most of the London Dungeons (review)
Are you looking for a London Dungeons review? Then you’ve come to the right place. Imagine stepping back 1000 years from now, actors telling tales of famous events between the 17th to the 19th Century. It’s gruesome, bloody, and scary. From the boat ride under the River Thames to the stories inside the Tower of London, the painful tools to torture innocent and guilty prisoners, as well as the Drop where they used to drop prisoners to their deaths after their release from prison. Photos aren’t allowed so this post will be as descriptive as possible.
Due to the Coronavirus, The London Dungeon is closed until further notice but what’s stopping you from reading about it online? Hopefully, you’ll visit us in the future. Alternatively, visit the London Dungeon website virtually in the comfort of your homes here.
Upon entering the London Dungeon
The London Dungeon overlooks the River Thames in Queen’s Walk along the Southbank area and it’s one of the top 10 attractions in London. It’s a nice, breezy afternoon, the sun is shining, and two black torches are found at the top of the entrance. The colour of the London Dungeon logo painted red; it looks like blood dripping from its letters. “My kind of place. I love gruesome attractions”. If you have younger kids, this attraction might not be ideal for them, but the children I saw had a blast.
The dark room at the entrance feels like you are already starting your journey. The queue took no more than 10 minutes, and the area was still dark and gruesome. A live rat can be found in a cage minding his own business. Beware, the queue can take longer depending on the season, and photos were taken, and we pretend to get our heads chopped off by an axe. You can buy the photo at the end of the tour.
There was a group of around 20 people. The atmosphere still dark around us. Screams could be heard in the background. The only light coming in was in a specific spot for the Lift Jester. He speaks in a jolly voice, wears a gold and red costume with a matching gold and red hat.
The Lift Jester stands at the front and exaggerated his performance, however, hilarious at the same time.
“Prepare to go back to 1000 years of history, you TRAITORS, get your heads chopped off by King Henry VIII’s Apprentice Assistant, when you’re down there, you might get the Plague and you might have to be separated. Visit Sweeny Todd’s barber shop, you might fall into a death trap and be cooked in the pie shop. Drop to your death after being released from prison and that will be the end of your life, TRAITORS!!!!”
He takes us down into a dark lift. Nothing but darkness. Then, as we arrive at the second part of the tour, he screams as the lift door opens. “TRAITORS”.
London Dungeon “The Tyrant Boat Ride” and “The Descent” Review
The dark environment takes us to “The Tyrant Boat Ride”. An interactive statue of King Henry VIII is here. Music plays in the background and we head down underneath The River Thames. At the time, I didn’t understand what the boat ride was about until I googled it online. The boat ride was supposedly taking you under the River Thames.
Some people got wet but the people at the front didn’t. Thankfully, I didn’t. You don’t get to choose where you sit though. The boat ride pulls us up and releases us in the dark where we end up in “The Tower of London”.
Meet the Executioner’s Apprentice.
London Dungeon “The Tower of London” review
She introduces us to The Executioner’s Apprentice. She wears a British medieval outfit, a dress with dirty white apron. Tools are provided for her to cut off people’s heads. She takes her measuring tape and measures everyone’s heads until she found one, she particularly liked. “Ah, perfect fit Madam.” Laughter can be heard. There were heads on spikes at the top of the room.
Another person stands next to her and she says, “You’re a suspect to murder someone” …She continues “Let me tell you about King Henry VIII. He assassinated his wife Anne Boleyn for infidelity, an affair with more than eight men, including her brother. Now you’re next young lady.”
After the hullabaloo, we walked through another dark and gruesome room.
“Remember, Remember, the 5th of November”. The Gunpowder Plot involving Guy Fawkes. Guy Fawkes, a Catholic soldier fought against the Spanish failed trying to assassinate the Protestant King James I. England was predominantly Protestant from 1603 when King James I was assumed King at that time. The House of Parliament had mistreated the Catholics then, so along with four other conspirators, he and several others went down to the cellar of the House of Parliament to plan the plot.
The environment has an interactive head on a spike. It’s Guy Fawkes himself. He sounds angry and frustrated, trying to gain sympathy from us. “I was tortured in many different ways before I died.” The room is still dark. “I plotted to blow up parliament but failed unfortunately.”
Around the room, there are a lot of “gunpowder barrels” and a rope attached to the barrel. It lit up from the fire and exploded at which point, the ground shook.
London Dungeon “The Torture Chamber” review
Two cells can be found on both sides of the room. A lady is already locked up on the right side. “I’m going to demonstrate different tools to torture traitors and prisoners who committed crime here,” said the executioner. Volunteers were chosen to be locked up. It happened to be me. He chooses a gentleman to demonstrate his torture tools on him in the middle of the room. I found it hilarious!
So, as he made me prisoner, he asked me if I lied. I said “No”.
He said “Wrong answer, go in the cell”.
After this tour, he let everyone go apart from me. He said “You stay here, I’m going to ask you various questions.” He shouted.
“WHAT DID YOU DO?”
“I didn’t do anything”,
“WRONG, LIAR, WHAT DID YOU DO?”
“I killed someone”,
“I don’t know”,
“OK, WHAT’S MY FAVOURITE COLOUR?” (er random)
“RIGHT ANSWER, YOU CAN FOLLOW THE GROUP”.
London Dungeon “The Plague Doctor” review
We gather around the room.
A female voice cab be heard in the dark. “I’m afraid all of you are victims of the plague. Nearly 1000 people have died and that’s why we need to separate you guys…”
I was already getting bored of the darkness and the acting at this point. On the website, they said that we’ll be wandering down the muddy path past houses with red crosses. Well, I don’t remember doing that. Even if we did, it wasn’t something worth remembering.
We meet The Plague Doctor.
“Sit on the benches,” he said. He chooses a volunteer to sit on a chair, his wrists tied up. In front of him was a supposedly dead body of a man that caught the plague. His body covered in a white sheet. Behind him, medicinal items, and science apparatuses full of cobwebs sat on the shelf. “Ladies and gentlemen, he died from the infection.”
He fiddled around the man’s insides to get the intestines and kidney out. Sound effects can be heard. It sounds like someone playing with slime while the “doctor” plays with his intestines.
“To treat him, I’d have to use leeches, but I found I had no more.” As he scans the room he adds, “They might be moving around anywhere though.”
We feel the “leeches” move underneath our butts on the benches. As the volunteer still sitting with his wrists tied up, he said “I would have to operate you sir.” He closes the curtain and pretends to cut his limbs. Sound effects of someone screaming can be heard behind the curtain. He tells us “Get out, the operation may take a while.”
London Dungeon “The Great Fire of London” Review
We meet The Mayor of London Thomas Bludworth’s maid, her acting exaggerated. At the back of the room, the supposedly Lord Mayor of London is “busy”. You can’t see him; he speaks at the back.
She starts to panic, told us stories of The Great Fire of London. “The Mayor of London’s wife thought it was the devil’s work, hence the year 1666, “666,” she said. The smoky room from the fire made the room foggy. She starts to “panic” again. The room turns “ablaze” with “fire”. She throws an empty bucket of water at all of us and screams at us to get out.
London Dungeon “Mrs. Lovett’s Pie Shop” Review
I love this actress. She does her job well. Her laugh is something I’ll remember from the tour. She also made great British jokes too. Sweeney Todd, legend has it he was fictional, some believe he was a real person. He owned a barber shop in Fleet Street. He supposedly took his clients in, pulled a lever next to the chair, the clients dropped down to the basement, broke their bones and died.
There are various versions to the story, one of them includes him slitting their throats. The story of Mrs. Lovett, (some say is his partner, some say is his friend, who knows) supposedly baked pies where she would put the meat of his victims into her pies as part of the ingredients. Some thought she was supposed to be in love with him.
She looks right into my eyes with no facial expressions. This made me laugh a little, an awkward laugh. Various pies can be found in front of her on the table. It had different body parts attached to them. Behind her, in the cupboard, a “dead body” drops in front of us before she pushes it back closed again (I assume it’s Sweeney Todd’s victims). Feeling embarrassed, she then told us to come back for some pies later.
I really liked this part of the tour, she was entertaining. Yes, she over-exaggerated but she could pull it off, not like the others. That cackle, I can’t forget that cackle.
We meet Todd’s assistant Toby.
We sit on the chairs as Sweeney Todd’s clients. It was pitched dark, I had to look at the green fire escape to see. The chair pokes us. It was as if we were being stabbed on the back. I heard a few middle-aged women screaming but I just thought they were exaggerating, but I didn’t find it that scary.
London Dungeon “Jack the Ripper” Review
Jack the Ripper murders his victims in Whitechapel. One his victims spoke to us about their story, but it was very brief. She said, “He murdered eight women, including me of course, but no one in London knows who he is.” This story was like every other story we saw, nothing different.
When I looked at the website, we were supposed to be taken to the Whitechapel Labyrinth, a glass maze where it’s confusing to find your way out. It was thought that Jack the Ripper was out on the streets again and the only way out was to go through the Whitechapel Labyrinth. Again, to me, it wasn’t that exciting, and we were then guided to the exit.
London Dungeon “The Ten Bells Pub” Review
The victims of Jack the Ripper drank in The Ten Bells pub. Three tables can be found in the room with three seats each. We meet a barmaid. She stands in front of us. Bottles of alcohol can be found on the shelves. The room still pitched dark. The lightning strikes: the barmaid appears in front of each table where some of our group sits. This made them jump as she just appeared out of nowhere. The wall fell unexpectedly. I was also getting ready for something to fall behind me. I got scared too.
The Courtroom Review
We meet a mean Judge.
He sits on an extremely high bench, it’s like he was God. He looks down at us in return. He wears his Judge’s uniform, wig and has a gavel. On the right-hand side, a poster stuck on the wall of illegal crimes can be found, most of them ridiculous. However, the list went on.
He chooses two volunteers to sit on the docks and said to them “The crime you’ve committed was stealing sheep. You’re Dick Turpin, aren’t you?” Dick Turpin was a butcher apprentice who stole cattle in the 19th Century. He joined a gang too. Two of the members of the gang were caught but Dick Turpin escaped.
“Ba-a-a-a” said a sheep in the background. The judge speaks back to the sheep. He continues to talk to the volunteer “Dick Turpin, you are found guilty, I sentence you to death. And for the rest of you, get out of my sight”.
We meet a Newgate Prisoner. The prisoner behind bars didn’t speak. It’s still dark. He reaches out an arm to one of the groups, and they screamed since they thought he was going to touch them. The lights went out and he made his chance to stand in front to scare us. He then went back into his cell.
This is the exciting and last part of the tour. I enjoyed this one. Prisoners were dropped after their release from Newgate Prison, and all died from the drop.
Once the drop was over, I was relieved to be in the gift shop and the sunlight because in the middle of the tour, I felt bored with the length of the tour, tired of the darkness and the over exaggerated stories. I felt thankful to be living in the 21st Century though since I did feel I stepped back in time.
From the experience at the London Dungeon, London has come a long way since the gruesome torture and deaths they inflicted to the Kings, Queens, and peasants.
Initially, I thought the actors were funny but when I got home, I didn’t think it was that funny. Some actors were good, like the lady in Mrs. Lovett’s Pie Shop, but the others were quite ridiculous. Apart from that, I liked the setting, the environment, the medieval costumes, the boat ride, even though I didn’t understand what it was about and the drop.
The environment also smelled throughout the tour. I only loved Mrs. Lovett’s acting and cackle.
Expect to be there for at least 2 hours. Expect lots of people, especially during school holidays. It can be busy so buy an e-ticket before your arrival if you didn’t buy the 4 attractions for the price of 3 deal.
Go to the www.discount-britain.com website for deals since this is where I get all my tickets from. I usually go to this site for future bookings to major attractions. I still want you to check it out if you decide to go next year.
It’s better to arrive early so you can enjoy other attractions nearby like The London Eye, Sea life London Aquarium, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, 31 things to do in the Southbank, and walks by the Southbank. You can also take advantage of the West End Walk, which is only a 10 minute walk from the Southbank. There are also many buses that go to Trafalgar Square. When it’s raining, buy yourselves tickets to visit The London Dungeon to seek shelter.
I wouldn’t visit again since it’s one of those things to see once and move on to something else. Alternatively, if you want to see and hear other stories and the history of Britain, go to the Tower of London where Guy Fawkes was imprisoned and tortured, later died in Westminster. The Tower of London has stories about the British monarchy including Henry VIII’s life and check out the Wardour Tour included in the price of entry.
For Jack the Ripper, I suggest going to Bishopsgate, researching all the locations of all the women murdered and taking photos of significant places. Alternatively, find a Jack Ripper Tour where you’ll learn about the murders with a tour guide. That’s better than hearing it from the London Dungeon.
In the London Dungeon, they used a lot of British humour, which some might not get. Take notice of the British accents from the working-class people, a completely different accent to people from an upper-class background back in the day. Overall, I liked that there were plenty of stories to tell.
Check out Time Out online for more information on The London Dungeon and other things to do in London.
If you have any questions regarding the London Dungeon, please feel free to contact me on Facebook and follow me on social media. Right now, please be safe and take care!