The London Dungeon is to make a £20 million move to a giant new site on the South Bank after 37 years terrifying visitors at London Bridge.
The attraction is taking over part of the old County Hall next to the London Eye recently vacated by the Dali Universe exhibition.
And it is undergoing a major re-invention as it adds new comic-horror experiences including explosions, thrill rides and unspeakably large quantities of simulated cockroaches and excrement and live rats.
Highlights include Henry VIII —brought to life with hi-tech projections of the head and voice of actor Brian Blessed — condemning visitors to die. They will be sent on a boat ride that ends in a three-storey plunge in the dark designed to emulate the horror of dropping to your death from the scaffold.
But the experience will start even before visitors buy their tickets as extra-long opening corridors lined with inmates in prison cells are introduced to entertain queues that can hit three hours at peak times.
Inside, visitors journey through 1,000 years of London history from medieval times through to the Gunpowder Plot, the plague of 1665, the Victorian sewers of Joseph Bazelgette, Sweeney Todd’s barber shop and the Whitechapel of the Jack the Ripper.
Ben Sweet, the general manager, said the development would be bigger and better but still historically accurate.
“It’s about given people a scare but also about giving them a laugh,” he added. “We have new shows and rides which are more dramatic, new scripts that are funnier, more theatrical costumes and more talented actors to play even more colourful villains.”
The expanded cast — past performers include Doctor Who assistant Karen Gillan — bring to life figures such as the gong farmer, who in Tudor England would dig excrement from cesspits.
The creative team includes costume supervisor Nikki Bird, who worked on Scrooge for the West End, and scriptwriter John Arthur, who normally works with Tim Vine and Jon Culshaw.
The current Dungeon will close on January 31. The new one opens on March 1.