We were up in Blackpool for another event, so decided to try out The Blackpool Tower Dungeon one of Merlin Entertainments massively successful Dungeon experiences. Dungeon variants operate in 11 locations, across 5 countries in 4 continents, so they clearly have a winning formula with mass appeal. I’ve been to both locations of the London Dungeon, Edinburgh, and more recently the latest version in Alton Towers.
This review has plenty of spoilers, so if you’ve never been to a Dungeon attraction before, stop reading and get yourself along to your nearest one. It’ll be tons of fun and a nice, not too scary introduction to the world of scare attractions. The scares are light and genuinely fun and the whole attraction is full of humour, you’ll laugh more than you’ll scream. Tickets are £14 online in advance for adults or a shade under £17 for walk ups. If you’re a Merlin Annual Pass holder then you get in for free.
We were one of the last few people to join a reasonably sized group of about 15 – 20, pretty standard group size for a Dungeon event. If you’ve been to one of these in the past, you’ll quickly spot the similarities with other Dungeons. They all have their own regional variations, tapping in to local legends and history, but the majority of the scenes are shared across the various Dungeon locations.
First up we had the court jester giving the usual intro spiel before we were allowed to enter the wonderfully propped lift so we could ‘descend’ in to the dungeon proper. After emerging we had one last bit of instruction before we entered a particularly vile smelling medieval street. I was caught out by a chamber pot wielding animatronic whilst an actor leapt out from the alternative direction.
We were then led in to the plague scene, and as per usual I was chosen as a particularly ill looking specimen needing treatment for the plague by either bleeding or leeches. The leeches had escaped and managed to surprise the audience members. For the finale the medical assistant was very keen to get out my bits, she loved bits. It was fun to experience this from behind the curtain as the audience was showered with my ‘blood’ when I had my intestines removed. Somehow this treatment did me wonders and I could leave with the rest of the group.
Next up we were in a Lancastrian torture chamber with our torturer extracting information from Yorkist spies. The one guy who confessed to being from Yorkshire was locked up in a cage for the duration of the scene. Despite being a born and bred Lancastrian, the torturer decided that I looked shifty enough to potentially be a spy. So I was singled out yet again to be used as a guinea pig for the various forms of torture that were used, such as tongue removal, the hook, and the emasculating chopper. I was allowed to leave somewhat less of a man than I entered.
The group was then ushered in to the courtroom scene where various audience members were placed in the dock of this kangaroo court. Thankfully I was given some respite, and the first person chosen was hilariously uncomfortable in the dock. Certainly not in a horrible way, but it’s clear some people are less favourable with this very light amount of audience participation than others. When all the guilty parties were suitably sentenced we were moved on to the next scene.
The labyrinth is a small hall of mirrors affair and there was one really cool jump scare as we split up to navigate the maze. It also had a really nicely designed area through some graveyard gates that you could view. Eventually we managed to escape from the area and we were led back in time.
I always remember the next scene as the ‘Sweeney Todd’ one as that is the theme in London, but the same effects are used with regional variations. In Blackpool we were attempting to earn a bit of extra money from smuggling and needed to convince Captain Johnson, the leader of the gang, that we weren’t revenue men. The actor here, I felt was superb in getting all of the audience to participate. After surviving this unusual job interview we were moved on.
A gruff Saxon greeted us in the next area, a wooden settlement of sorts that we quickly found out was under imminent threat from a Viking raiding party. We were treated to a wonderfully acted interplay between our Saxon friend and the decapitated head of a Viking stuck on a stake. Eventually we came under attack and were rapidly exited to the next area.
Lancashire has a rich history of witchcraft and to be honest I was surprised there wasn’t more content around this in the Blackpool Tower Dungeon. In the final scene we were treated to a monologue from a hanging witch who was letting us know that we were all witches too, and we were sentenced to the same fate as her. After a short while, the hangman came calling and we were led in to the final room. The bloke in front of me asked me what was about to happen and not wanting to spoil anything I just said ‘we’re all going to hang’. This element is a ‘kiddie’ version of my least favourite theme park flat ride and the picture that was taken clearly showed the fear on my face. Suitably ‘hung’ we exited through a bar and unsurprisingly for Blackpool, an arcade.
Hats off to the team and the amazing actors at Blackpool Tower Dungeon. From my experiences at a few of the Dungeons, I’ve always been impressed with the consistency of the experience and the quality of the actors that take part. For this run through in particular it was clear that they were short handed and several actors had to double up their parts in different scenes. Despite that they all did a superb job helping to immerse the group in their scenes and really amped up the fun element.
I’d definitely recommend the Blackpool Tower Dungeon and to be honest any other Dungeon experience, especially if you’ve never been to one before. They are a great, family friendly, fun and slightly scary experience that has some great elements and a huge amount of humour and passion from the actors. If you enjoy your Dungeon experience it is a great gateway to other scare attractions and events, check out our directory for details of many great scares this coming Halloween season.