Fresh seafood and a bustling waterfront draw groups to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. But tales of ghastly behavior based on long-ago events also drum up crowds.

The San Francisco Dungeon mixes comedy, special effects and storytelling by ghoulishly attired professional actors. The dungeon produces nine shows that introduce students to some of the most unfortunate events in The Golden City’s past.

“Tours will experience the dark and seedy side of San Francisco history they won’t see anywhere else,” said Jesse Russell, marketing coordinator. “The journey is fully immersive, and our actors engage directly with the audience members.”

From the Gold Rush to Alcatraz, some of the most excruciating transgressions from the past 200 years are covered in the one-hour visit. Students will pass through the narrow streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown, Sutter’s Mill, scene of the beginning of the 1849 Gold Rush, Miss Piggott’s Saloon and more. Students should expect to be frightened as darkness descends indoors and sets rotate 360 degrees. Getting wet is likely on Shanghai Kelly’s Boat Ride. It is possible to opt out of this or anything else that feels too intense.

Actor, The San Francisco Dungeon, San Francisco, California
[/media-credit] Actor, The San Francisco Dungeon, San Francisco, Calif.

Up to 36 students can be accommodated at a time, and new shows begin every eight minutes.

“Large groups can move through quickly,” Russell said, describing the experience as “perfect for theater-goers, history buffs and fans of thrills.”

It is possible to arrange and customize an after-hours group experience. Adults must accompany children under age 16. Groups of 10 or more receive an admission discount.

The tour escort and motorcoach driver receive complimentary admission. Although the dungeon does not have its own parking area, parking lots and garages are within a short walk.

The San Francisco Dungeon, near Pier 41, is the only location in the United States; eight other operations exist in Europe (Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, London and four additional United Kingdom locations).

For more information, call 855-753-9999 or visit

Article by Mary Bergin