Upon hearing the name of the attraction, I thought it would be the remains of the actual dungeon. The only problem is that they don't tell you until after you're inside that it's only a replica - with a lot of guesswork at that. The original dungeon was unearthed, by chance, before Salem had an active historical society. It was completely destroyed in the process.
The first part of the attraction is a skit of some actual court transcripts. And it started late. It was two "actors" and was fairly boring, as well as a re-hash of info you can get at any number of Salem attractions. The second part was walking thru the replicated dungeon. Again, re-hashed information, and mediocre manequin displays. Towards the end, it even turned into a cheesy fair midway fun house when someone jumped out of the darkness as people passed by.
The only thing that I really got from this attraction was the "coffin cells". Back in the day, prisoners were expected to pay for their keep - and there were a few different sized cells for each wealth level. The poorest of the poor, however, were pretty much stuck with these coffin cells. It's not until you see the replica that the idea really hits home. These people - many of whom were imprisoned for months - had cells so small you couldn't sit down. They stood the entire time, or until they died.
Unique Suggestions: Just don't go. Save yourself the time and money.
Fun Alternatives: There are a plethora of attractions in Salem. You could try the Salem Witch Museum, the Witch Village, the Wax Museum, Pirates Museum, or the House of Seven Gables. You could walk the red line that's painted on the ground around the city. You could just window shop in the many little storefronts on the pedestrian mall. If you're looking for the story of the witches, pretty much any attraction you go to will fill you in on the story.
So many people seemed so crazy about Halloween in Salem that I decided in 2006 to check it out for myself. I arrived around 8:30 PM and found many of the central streets to be blocked off, the sidewalks jammed with crowds that reeked of marijuana, and the unblocked roads in an irresolvable gridlock. After half an hour, I managed to park my car on the left side of a small, dark one-way street about a mile from downtown, slipped my pipe in my mouth so people would think I had a costume, and started to walk. There were a lot of teenagers in costumes, some of which were elaborate, others contrived, still others incredibly amusing, and still others all of the above. Nevertheless, there was next to nothing to do. Within another hour, the City of Salem had ordered all the restaurants not to admit any more patrons in order to encourage people to leave. In another half hour, hundreds of policemen were marching through with bats, others were riding by on horses, and still others were walking around screaming "If you don't want to get arrested, get out of the city!" Within another half hour, I'd gotten my car, and I drove through Salem on the way out; it was empty as a ghost town (no elaborate pun intended). I guess some gang members were stabbing each other or something. I had a decently OK time, but I'm sure there are more exciting places to go.
It does give you a brief history of the Witch Trials. A very brief one, that includes some speculation that's highly suspect. You're then moved through into a room where you can look at a highly politicized exhibit of "modern witch trials."
Fun Alternatives: I do have suggestions for an alternative, but they don't fit into one tip. Check out my tip on Gallows Hill, and also check out my tips on Danvers.
Oh this was just silly. It's a tiny little theater with a show that is supposes to be SPOOKY eh, not so scary. We were lured inside by the screaming of the group before us. All throughout the show, I was waiting for the scary part that unfortunately didn't come. It wasn't worth the entrace fee of $8 per person. The best part of the experience was the spooky portraits on the wall that change as you walk past them.
Shows are every 20 minutes
The Griffen Theater
7 Lynde Street
Salem, MA 01970
Salem Witch Museum is a real bummer. You do learn some stuff about what really happened, but it's a tourist trap for sure. For about $6, you leave feeling sorry you wasted your time.
Unique Suggestions: If you must, here's the info so you can find the place: http://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/
Washington Square North, Salem
"This museum is composed of life-like London made wax figures that depict Salem's history from its founding in 1626 through the terrifying Hysteria of 1692."
Tickets prices for Adults: $9.95, Seniors: $8.95 and Children: $3.95.
Behind the Wax Museum building is the Old Burial Point, reputed to be the second oldest burial ground in the country and open to visitors.
Unique Suggestions: If going to a Wax Museum is your thing and you want to spend the money, well why not, but I wouldn't. Weeeelll, not yet I haven't, but I might give in if one of the grandchildren wanted to go bad enough. But no one's asked me to take them yet!
On Derby Street, Route 1A -- just before you get to the Pickering Wharf is where you'll find this museum.
Fun Alternatives: I think I would talk the kids into going to the House of Seven Gables instead. Or even the Pirates Museum would be more of an interest to my grandsons and maybe my granddaughters also.
But when it comes right down to it ... I'll take 'em if that's what they wanted ;-).
Watch out for all the 'Witch' related museums, stores and mind readers capitalizing on Salem's history. These places range from being fairly interesting to down right tacky.
Fun Alternatives: If you are looking to track down the local "witch trial" folklore, visit some of the graveyards on a cold and rainy day or even at night... Naturally, October is a good month for this...
Salem certainly milks its claim to fame. The Salem Witch Museum, the Witch Dungeon Museum are but two over-commercialised rip-offs, as well as souvenir shops galore selling all kinds of 'devilry' nonsense. Which (sorry) is a shame as the terrible events at the end of the seventeenth century are of historical significance (only the Witch Museum presents anything approaching authentic). But its crassness does have a certain charm and being in Salem as Hallowe'en approaches (or even there on
the actual night) adds a little something...
You've got a choice here. You can spend all your time in occult book stores buying overpriced stones and getting psychic readings. There are scores of serious practitioners of Paganism and the Wicca religion in Salem, but there are a lot of jaded phonies, too. Be mindful as you wander around the downtown area. You can also take the kids around to tacky pointy-hats-vampires-and-skeletons exhibits designed to cash in on Halloween. A trip to Salem can be as educational or touristy as you choose to make it for yourself and your family. There's a lot to see and do!
Halloween is a big tourist trap to Salem. All the freaks come out literally..... I understand the fascination with the Witch Trials and witches of the area but some of the events are just nonsense.