Dungeon dispute gets dirty
It would appear the owners of a new haunted attraction in London have scared not only their own guests but also the operators of an established venue close by.
The London Bridge Experience opened in the English capital back in February, and while part of the attraction is dedicated to the history of the famous bridge from which it takes its name, a large section is also given over to a haunt experience called the London Tombs .
That has angered Merlin Entertainments, which runs The London Dungeon close to London Bridge train station. Opened in 1975, the attraction now pulls in three-quarters-of-a-million visitors a year. Merlin has taken the unusual step of starting legal action against The London Bridge Experience, which it claims is an attempt to copy The London Dungeon.
“Merlin believes that The London Bridge Experience is transparently designed to mirrorThe London Dungeon’s concept and marketing positioning,” says a company spokesperson. “Its location, just yards from the London Dungeon, compounded by its copycat marketing literature and promotional activity, are, Merlin feels, deliberately intended to confuse visitors and to unlawfully trade off the high quality, goodwill and reputation of Merlin’s long established attraction.”
Merlin also claims that visitors queuing to enter the Dungeon have been deliberately targeted in an attempt to divert them away to the “inferior attraction” down the road. “We will therefore fiercely protect the goodwill in the London Dungeon brand, particularly from such blatantly parasitic behaviour,” says Merlin’s David Sharpe.
The company’s proposal for a “consensual resolution” has apparently been rejected by the operators of The London Bridge Experience. “Ever since we opened, they [Merlin] have made repeated demands to us to restrict our activities because The London Bridge Experience is located close to their London Dungeon attraction,” says operator Danny Scriven. “Had we agreed to Merlin’s original conditions, which included not doing any promotions within 200 metres of The London Dungeon, we would not have even been able to go into our own attraction!”
Danny and his brother Lee Scriven, who grew up less than a mile from London Bridge, claim to have invested their life savings in the £2 million (€2.5m/$3.7m) attraction. They say Merlin’s demands extend to a ban on the use of words or pictures typical of haunted attractions, costumed actors interacting with visitors, and a request not to participate in promotions such as two-for-one vouchers where Merlin also tales part.
Despite their efforts, The London Bridge Experience has so far failed to match the success of The London Dungeon, or indeed its owners’ own projections, attracting just 40,000 visitors in its first five months of trading. Nevertheless the Scriven brothers should at least get some perverse pleasure from the fact that Merlin is worried to the extent it is.
Are the two attractions alike? Judge for yourself: