I don’t like being scared. I will easily admit that I, Kirsten, a 22 year old woman, am a wimp. But I’m also an odd kind of wimp: an irrational wimp. Horror films are terrifying and if anyone’s watching one, I’ll happily leave rather than endure it resulting in nightmares later. But things like bungee jumping and shark cage diving are on my list. Go figure.
What I’m trying to say is that The London Dungeon – you know, that intended-for-kids, silly London tour – is something that gives me the heebie jeebies (those still exist for the likes of me).
I went when I was younger with my dad, when the venue was next to London Bridge. It was fantastic because it at least had so many educational stories. This is where my weird wimpness kicks in again: I love a good story, and I found/find Jack the Ripper fascinating. They went through the suspects of who was Jack the Ripper, with a factfile and the visualisation of each person, and why it could have been them. It was awesome.
The part I was scared of was a dark, maze-like area where actors jumped out at you right in your face. I’m not great with personal space at the best of times, and even as a child, these people were in danger of getting punched or have to deal with a crying, tormented girl.
So when Alan came to London, I wanted to give him a true London experience in all its forms. We went ice skating outside the Natural History Museum (where it poured with rain and lightning struck… there goes my romantic idea!) and on the London Eye. Funnily enough it was only when we were in the queue for The London Dungeon that I thought “Oh, God. Why did I suggest this?”
The London Dungeon is now between London Eye and Big Ben, on the same stretch as the Aquarium on South Bank. Although it’s good placement, I’m mourning the loss of the great location under the arches and atmosphere of London Bridge. And I’ll be honest –
It’s not as good as it used to be
Maybe it’s because I’m not a child (physically; mentally is questionable) anymore, but I think it’s more than that. This time around, they didn’t focus as much on the educational part of it. I always thought, if they’re going to put me through the drama, impress me with the facts behind it. They covered some things like the plague and Jack the Ripper – but good old nasty Jack wasn’t as in-depth, it just scared you into thinking ‘he could be out there now…’ rather than the detail and making you think about who it could have been.
The production is brilliant and it’s well worth kids going, absolutely. I was mad they covered Sweeney Todd, considering that little thing that he’s not real, but the effects they had – without giving too much away – made you sit on the edge of your seat, so to speak.
Alan and I wanted to be the observers, but as luck would have it, we were thrown into the interactive experience. I entirely blame Alan’s wish to be at the front so he could listen… but as much as in real life it wouldn’t be nice to have to lead a crowd into gunpowder danger, be called a traitor, locked in a prison cell and have someone jump out at me, The London Dungeon made me relish the experience of dirty, dangerous London.
For the record, Alan had the much funnier experience of being ‘questioned’ at ‘court’ under the name of ‘Little Willy’, and asked how long he’s been hanging out with ‘Big Dick’. I was flummoxed that children didn’t understand the innuendo, but I guess they wouldn’t. He was then made to relieve himself infront of our crowd (fake wee, they’re not that cruel) before being hung.
Peformance-wise, London Dungeon is impressive, very entertaining and recommended. But as a quintessential London experience, I feel as though they should have kept more of the history they had a while back when I last went. People from all over the country and the world come to The London Dungeon, and the city’s history is one of a kind and the main reason I love having been born and bred here.
P.s. London Dungeon, please make your mirror maze bigger. We were going round in quite small circles.