On Monday we were lucky enough to join a few other fan and enthusiast sites to get a sneak peek behind the scenes at the the new London Dungeon. Having visited the Tooley St venue for years, we weren't sure how this new show would feel - the original site had atmosphere and history - so would this be just a set of well themed rooms in inside a different building?
Actually, due to the level of detail in the theming and the intricacies of some of the elements - we very quickly forgot where we were and with sufficient smells and lighting, it was as immersive as we could have hoped.
Many secrets of the attraction were revealed as part of our tour and it is clear that a lot of thought has gone into things with a number of key tricks and effects hidden in the connecting corridors between shows.
With the lights on, it was impressive but what would it be like under show conditions? We were pleased to be invited on the first public tour as it was being previewed for annual passholders and so, just a few hours after walking through a quasi building site, we were back the next morning to face our fears.
The key new phrase and marketing for the Dungeon brand is "Fear is a Funny thing" and most scenes have a good mix of both fun and fear throughout. Some, such as the new Mrs Lovett's pie shop are really funny, whilst the Jack the Ripper themed Ten Bells pub was terrifying!
Saying much more about our experience yesterday morning would spoil it for people coming in, but would also be unfair to the venue as (quite understandably) there were a few operation issues that will be ironed out going forward. Several effects didn't work, two shows were held under emergency lighting and the boat ride was a very quiet and non atmospheric affair with no sound or FX in operation.
We are hoping these small issues are remedied before the VIP party tonight. The show has the potential to really become the jewel in the crown for the Dungeon franchise and it will be great to see it all working properly
Until then - we will hold off posting a detailed review.
So the first big scare event of 2013 (Evil Rising) has come and gone and this has got us thinking about what we can expect for the remainder of 2013.
Obviously the biggest upcoming news is the relaunch of London Dungeon at its new home in County Hall. It was a sad day on Jan 31st as ScareTOUR had the last organised group of the Tooley St venue. We laughed, we jumped and we applauded the actors as the show finished. The attraction always felt like it belonged under London Street station and many people would be mistaken for thinking they were in an actual dungeon and not under some railway bridge arches!
So what does the move to County Hall present us with? Looking at the other UK Dungeons, the installations in modern buildings made to look old, never quite feel as genuine. Blackpool Tower Dungeon being the best example - it looks old and decayed but its really just clever theming and some smell pods. So until next week we will just have to reserve judgement on how authentic the new Dungeon will be. Expect some special coverage of the opening of the Dungeon next week!
Then not long after London comes the reopening of York Dungeon. It has been over 6 months of refurbishment and repair following the flood damage last Autumn and the current marketing is already showing some tweaks to the line up. More info as we get it.
At Easter, the talented GNG guys are back with a new show at Ravenswood Manor and a rescheduled date for the debut show from Massacre Productions will be announced soon.
Most people should be well aware that Alton Towers are currently building a new rollercoaster called The Smiler, and the theming of this ride is closely linked to our favourite attraction of last year - The Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is due to return for the main 2013 operating season at the park and it will be interesting to see if it remains an upcharge attraction for the season or whether it will included in the admission price.
Other Spring/early Summer events that seem to be cropping up at the moment are Night Terrors - a 6k run through pitch dark forests populated with monsters, Zombie Earth - a new take on the popular Zombie Survival games and some dates have been set for the next Zombie Survival Weekenders in Wales. Of course the ever popular Zombie Manor and Zombie Shopping Mall experiences run most weekends.
As we look further forward into the Halloween season its a bit more difficult to see or predict what is ahead. Every year sees new shows and events all across the country and as usual we will keep you posted as we hear things. But we are only a small team and sometimes things pass us by - so if you hear of anything exciting happening near you - contact us directly or via Facebook and we shall be sure to feature it
So until we scream again - stay safe
Many of you will know me already. My name is Michael Bolton and I am passionate about Scare Attractions and being scared. I have been visiting and reviewing attractions since 2002. Why not come along on one of our trips and have a scream?