Reviewed for Scareworld Magazine by Topher Adam.

Right in the heart of The Golden Gate City premier tourist destination, lays one of SF’s hidden treasures. The San Francisco Dungeon. Now celebrating their first year, we’re invited underground to see what lurks in her dark underbelly of San Francisco’s dark history.

Greeted by marketing director for Merlin Entertainment Kari Martin with a fun dialog greeting saying, “we hope you have a horrible time,” as we are lead into a darkly lit stair case down into the dungeon. Swinging lanterns flickering light along our decent into a dark room with squeaking rats, creaking wood, and doors rattling with captives begging to be let out. As we queue up, we’re instructed with a few humorous rules and some dungeon no no’s.

Our first guide then escorts us though the locked doors into our first chamber where we’re greeted by a silent and eerie fellow, inviting us to get closer and closer to the stage. As he silently gestures, acting like a mute, he then loudly and suddenly surprises us with a bellowing welcome. Full of character and humor, we’re told about the Bay Area’s dark past and what awaits us on our journey through the dungeons. We’re taken through amazing mazes, down dark creepy simulated mine elevators, set out to get lost in the mines of Sutter Creek’s gold rush greed, and one mysteriously finds themselves in a mirror maze trying to find a way out, while being scared out of your wits with loud amazing audio effects. Walking around labyrinths of dark high production value sets, we are then met on the streets by the gang leader of San Francisco, They may “Know Nothing,” but they sure know how to get some answers from you. Sharing some of the torture tools to get the answers out of you quickly, the Gang leader yells at you to run down the streets as we’re met by a door, that says, “San Francisco Court House.”

The automated door slowly creeks open as the judge stands high on his pulpit ready to consider you guilty, or very guilty, is humorous and very entertaining. He invites several audience participants as they are each tried and with group participation, we all become jurors to their trials. “GUILTY”, he yells as you leave. With all the laughter we are then invited to step in for a drink at Miss Piggott’s Saloon, or “it may be your last,” as she is then taken by the illustrious Jack the Ripper, with a room full of surprises, this is sure to stab you in the back with fear.

Running down Terrific Street to Shanghai Kelly’s Boat ride, he gathers his guest into his boat and takes you down the dark and musty bay, to become shanghai’ed. It’s a short trip, met with some cannon, and gun shots, prepare yourself to ‘not’ stay dry as you are shockingly sprayed with a nice splash or two from crossfire. Shanghai Kelly drops you off in Chinatown’s Plague Street, these streets are hiding more than just infected rats and rotting bodies, the Plague Doctor knows all about the black dearth, but can he save you? There are lots of surprises that will tickle your funny bone in this surgeons theater.

San Francisco’s Alcatraz is your last stop on this thrilling adventure through the SF Dungeons. Here we’re gathered up to step back into time, sitting around this dark and dank holding cell, as the night guard demands you sit back on your bench, with your ankles together and out of her path. She is not joking and you will get the evil eye if you don’t heed her warning. The night guard proceeds to tell us about these prison walls as they have held the most dangerous military fugitives in history. Lights flickering on and off, air moving around the room with silent footsteps passing you by as the lights turn on again and the guard is mysteriously standing in a new spot of the room continuing her story. With sounds appearing from around the room, doors slamming, chains falling to the ground, this ghost story comes to life right before your eyes.

The SF Dungeons is a haunters dream. Not only is the production quality, the special effects, sets, lighting, and sound make this an immersive experience enjoyed by all. A trip through San francisco’s murky past and being scared has never been so much fun. With a minimal cost, you will enjoy this hour-long production. I know I did, I can’t wait to go back, because this haunter wishes Halloween were everyday. The SF Dungeons fulfills that need to scream from time to time throughout the year, open 365 days a year, it’s a must visit while in San Francisco, California.



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