Merlin’s San Francisco Dungeon Opens Soon, Shows Dark Underbelly of City by the Bay

Posted by Rachel S on Friday, June 20th, 2014

Merlin Entertainment is known for its dungeon attractions in Amsterdam, Berlin, Edinburgh and other locales, but the opening of the San Francisco Dungeon on June 26th will make it the first North American dungeon attraction. The SF dungeon occupies the former home of the wax museum on Fisherman’s Wharf and although the iconic wax facility will be missed, the new installment is exciting. The Merlin designers have set the story on the rich history of the city but focusing on the darker elements for an authentic, occasionally frightening experience.

Nine live show areas cover 200 years of San Fran history that offers an intimate experience by allowing only 36 guests on each tour. The visitor experience is authentic as the sets are 360 degrees so it feels like you are actually back in time interacting with some of the city’s most notorious rapscallions.

San Francisco dungeon

Image courtesy of InPark Magazine and Joseph Gutierrez

Here’s an idea what to expect – you begin with a descent in a rickety wooden elevator suspended by dubious rope that may or may not get you down safely. From there, you’ll meander through eight experiences each themed on a specific event or character:

The Gold Rush shows you the seamier side of the search for precious metals including the fight between Native Americans and California settlers looking to get rich.

San Francisco dungeon prospector

Image courtesy of InPark Magazine and Joseph Gutierrez

In the Lost Mines of Sutter’s Creek, you’ll traverse a maze of mines where you hopefully won’t get lost and if you do, who’s to say what’s behind the next corner – surely nothing too bad…

Gangs of San Francisco have roamed streets for centuries, but these terrorized locals for political influence and profit. See how politics has never been so cut throat (literally).

San Francisco dungeon

Image courtesy of InPark Magazine and Joseph Gutierrez

In the Court Room of San Francisco, you’ll see the term ‘hanging judge’ taken to new heights. Will you be safe if the judge decides to interrogate the miscreants among you?

San Francisco Dungeon

Image courtesy of InPark Magazine and Joseph Gutierrez

At Miss Piggott’s Saloon, kick back and enjoy a drink or two and don’t worry about the creaky floorboards and suspicious noise under your feet – it should be fine.

Next, Shanghai Kelly’s Boat Ride takes you on a shady journey after you’ve been tricked at the saloon and hauled off to be sold as slave labor onto a ship. This one will challenge your sea legs for sure.

Death at the San Francisco dungeon

Image courtesy of InPark Magazine and Joseph Gutierrez

The Chinatown Plague shows you how the Black Death ravaged San Francisco in the 1900s. Have you had your vaccinations? Hope so, because that may be a rat nibbling at your ankle.

Image courtesy of InPark Magazine and Joseph Gutierrez

When you see The Ghosts of Alcatraz, you’ll get a glimpse into the earliest years of the island prison when it served as a military jail back in the 1800s. Don’t get too close to the bars!

What also makes this dungeon cool is the creak and feel of tons of authentic wood. Most of the wood you’ll touch and walk on is reclaimed from a World War II Japanese interment camp. This means it’s not only eco-conscious, but also ties into another aspect of San Francisco’s history that’s dark and dastardly. And another plus is the set design that was done locally by Rob and John Daniels of Daniels Wood Land, a theming company that works almost exclusively in wood and trees.

If you want to get a good scare and learn some authentic history, check out The San Francisco Dungeon opening June 26th. The attraction is best for those age 10 and up as it’s an intense experience. Tickets are $26 for adults and $20 for those 12 and younger. Click here to book online and get a discount if you also buy tickets for Madame Tussauds.

image sources:, InPark Magazine / Joseph Gutierrez

Leave a Reply

Must Read