It's either another pandemic casualty or just a tourist attraction that's run its course at Fisherman's Wharf. But the San Francisco Dungeon has closed its doors for good, taking with it that $2 million drop-ride dubbed Escape Alcatraz, which dropped willing visitors a full eleven feet.
It was the first "dungeon" attraction in the U.S. from U.K.-based Merlin Entertainments Group when it opened at 145 Jefferson Street in 2014. And the theme of its various rooms and rides was the dark and sinister aspects of San Francisco history — including the former Alcatraz military prison of the 1850s, and the sailor kidnappings of James "Shanghai" Kelly, who reportedly drugged men with opium-laced whiskey and forced them into working as sailors on boats bound for Asia, giving birth to the term "shanghai-ing."
"Like the Gold Rush of 1849 and a saloon brawl, all good things come to an end! The San Francisco Dungeon has told its last tales and is now permanently closed," says an announcement on the San Francisco Dungeon website.
Bay Area News Group first reported on the closure Monday, noting that the Merlin Group-owned Madame Tussauds wax museum at Fisherman's Wharf remains open. The company also operates the LEGOLand California Resort in Carlsbad, and dozens of attractions in Europe, Asia, and the U.K.
It's no clear how many months of full operation the San Francisco Dungeon has been able to have since the start of the pandemic. At its height, the attraction employed some 50 people, including 36 actors, who portrayed gold miners, bar brawlers, and shanghai'd sailors, among others.
It originally opened as a 60-minute walking experience with nine actor-led mini-shows, and the Escape Alctatraz ride was added in late 2016. They also added something obviously problematic called Chinatown Gang Wars a few years back — and that replaced a bubonic plague-in-Chinatown storyline that came back later on and that clearly didn't play well post-2020.
Guess what's back? Back again. The #plague is back. Tell a friend... to help you clean your buboes after you catch it. YUM.— The SF Dungeon (@TheSFDungeon) August 29, 2019
Anyway, our limited time Chinatown Gang Wars show has wrapped up, and we're bringing back one of your favorites, starting tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/7mnhuFpWeL
In a clever play on the cat cafes that were popping up around the country at the time, the SF Dungeon also launched a pop-up Rat Cafe in 2017. That gave way to a pop-up Rat Bar in the same space two years later, which featured amaretto sours — sorry, Ama-RAT-O Sours — and 30 minutes of play time with rodents for a cool $50 admission price (which included Dungeon admission as well).