A kitschy attraction in Fisherman’s Wharf has permanently closed

LATEST Feb. 14, 9:01 am A spokesperson for Merlin Entertainments, the company that previously managed the San Francisco Dungeon, confirmed to SFGATE that it closed the attraction in June 2021.

“The Dungeon brand remains intrinsically popular across the world, however the current climate allowed the brand to look at alternatives for the Dungeon experience in the US,” the spokesperson said in an email. “Within San Francisco, Merlin Entertainments has the popular Madame Tussauds wax museum which remains a favorite for both tourists and locals.”

Feb. 13, 1:15 p.m. It’s the end of an era for one of the campiest tourist attractions in Fisherman’s Wharf.

The San Francisco Dungeon, an hourlong dark ride and immersive attraction tucked away in the Jefferson Street building that once housed a wax museum, has shuttered for good.

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,” read a statement on the attraction’s website. “But, be warned, like the ghosts of Alcatraz, our mischief may find new ways to haunt you.”

Despite its kitschy sets laden with animatronics and special effects, the San Francisco Dungeon — at one point led by 36 actors who put on nine live shows per day — garnered mostly positive reviews on Google and Yelp during its seven-year run. Guests were escorted on a guided walking tour and underground boat ride that transported them through the underbelly of San Francisco’s history as actors shared dark tales of the Gold Rush era and the lost mines of Sutter’s Mill, Alcatraz and the Barbary Coast.

The attraction branched out with other Alcatraz-centric offerings in recent years including the “Ghosts of Alcatraz Suite,” an overnight stay in a recreated jail cell costing $666 for three guests, and “Escape Alcatraz,” a two-story, underground drop ride that simulated a plunge into the icy waters of the San Francisco Bay. In 2019, it also hosted a pop-up “rat bar” where guests could drink cocktails with — you guessed it — live rodents.

The 'Escape Alcatraz' drop ride creates a thrilling new finale to The San Francisco Dungeon's live theater show on Oct. 28, 2016, in San Francisco.

The ‘Escape Alcatraz’ drop ride creates a thrilling new finale to The San Francisco Dungeon’s live theater show on Oct. 28, 2016, in San Francisco.

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

When the San Francisco Dungeon opened alongside Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in June 2014, it was the first location of an international chain of dungeon-themed attractions to appear in the US SFGATE reached out to Merlin Entertainments, the United Kingdom-based company that oversees the attractions for more information related to the reason for the closure, but did not hear back by time of publication.

Lack of tourism could be to blame. Last summer, Pier 39 president Taylor Safford told ABC7 the area saw an 87% drop in visitors during the pandemic.

Madame Tussauds remains open, but if you’re in the market for an attraction melding laugh-out-loud scares and San Francisco history, Terror Vault might be your best bet.