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“Refreshing historical tour”

Bill Speidel's Underground Tour
Ranked #17 of 159 Tours in Seattle
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The Underground Paranormal Experience gives you the expertise and equipment to do your own investigation. Search for paranormal activity in the famous Seattle Underground using the same sophisticated investigative equipment employed by trained professional paranormal investigators. The Underground Paranormal Experience may haunt you for the rest of your life. Don’t Watch Ghost Hunters. Be One!
Useful Information: Stairs / elevator, Food available for purchase, Bathroom facilities, Stroller parking
Reviewed July 25, 2013

We had no idea about Seattle's underground. A co-worker recommended this tour and I shrugged it off as I'm not much into tours & typical tourist attractions. However, upon arriving in Seattle with an entire afternoon ahead of us, curiosity got the best of us and we decided to go on the tour. I enjoyed the refreshing perspective of our guide & the humor. As a child I went on many boring tours and was refreshed to see this wasn't the same. And, now I am smarter for it knowing some interesting history behind Seattle!

Thank Oatgirl12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,113 - 3,117 of 4,108 reviews

Reviewed July 24, 2013

Before you go on this tour, set your expectations.

If you are expecting, like I was, to go and visit the remnants of an actual city block that has been covered up by a modern city, you're going to be disappointed. You will not walk down old roads and see a historical city that time forgot, or, as the website for the attraction states, experience "the main roadways and first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle."

If, however, you are interested in seeing old BASEMENT/CELLAR areas that were, possibly, saloons, bath houses, brothels, etc., you may find this tour interesting.

The tour starts with an introduction. Apparently, the script for the tour guides contains a lot of mandatory humor and the retelling of stories multiple times. The guide will tell you that it's "up to you" whether to believe that the sites you will see are really the storefronts and business entrances of buildings that were constructed after the Seattle fire. Throughout the tour, the guide will try very hard to convince you that this hypothesis is true.

But this description of what you're seeing is not settled fact. Far from it. I would describe it as either a) grossly exaggerated truths or b) historical fiction.

Throughout the tour, you will visit three underground locations, located under existing buildings and businesses. You will walk down old sets of steps to get to these cellars. These underground locations look, feel and are styled like basements or cellars. The walls are constructed like basement walls, the floors are poured in slabs like basement floors, etc. You will NOT see old streets or storefronts. You will see rooms and walkways between those rooms, and arches, and a lot of old things (couches, cots, etc.) just like the basements of many old, big buildings across the country and the world.

Did these buildings once have lower-level entry points, below street level? Perhaps, yes, just as other buildings in the surrounding area, from the same period of time, still have entrances that are a flight of steps below the sidewalk. (Look in any large city, and you'll see buildings like this). This doesn't mean anything other than buildings created more space and additional entrances. Now, perhaps these lower-level entrances were even connected by some walkways. And perhaps these buildings covered up those entrances later. And it's likely that these basements are perhaps on the same level as old roadways. But this does not provide proof of a "city beneath a city."

Did interesting things once happen in these basements? Quite possibly -- and they'd make a really interesting tour without the exaggeration. But the notion that the "original Seattle" lies beneath the present-day Seattle, is bogus.

I give the tour an A in terms of their ability to drive a good deal of commerce and business to the basements of Seattle. Tickets cost $16, and for an actual tour of interesting basements where strange things took place, this might even be worth it. But when you begin to realize that you've been baited into thinking you'll see something that doesn't exist, it feels like a rip off. And I'll give the guide a good grade for trying to make the tour entertaining and for the sheer showmanship of trying to sell a myth.

Where other negative reviewers have gone wrong is to complain that the "underground" portions of the tour are dirty, need renovation, etc. The point is that they are not supposed to be cleaned up. This isn't Disney. It's supposed to be old and unrestored.

The fact is, it's just not what they're telling you it is.

Set your expectations.

5  Thank AndrewCamp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 24, 2013

The tour was fun, funny, interesting and we learned so much about how Seattle began. You cannot walk the downtown streets the same after the tour. If you are claustrophobic, you might not like this tour. You would be walking underground in close spaces at times, and it can be unnerving. That said, I'd do it again!

Thank AlaskanNurse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 23, 2013

Decided to find out some history of Seattle and we got it in bucket loads on this tour. Our superb guide gave us the rundown on the problems that faced Seattle as it developed and the continuing issue with sewage and exploding toilets.... Yes for real! In some ways they were lucky the old town burnt down as it gave them a chance to fix the problem. The solution took so long though, that the new buildings had to be built 4 stories high so that the town could raise the level of the roads after the buildings were built. This has left a whole level of buildings under the current street level and the stories the guide told us about getting around the town were highly amusing. This trip is one that is well worth doing.

Thank JDNZ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 23, 2013

Fun tour. We did the 10 am and had a blast with our tour guide. He was so funny. I am sorry i dont remember his name, but he was a 6th grade history teacher. He was so informed on Seattle. I had no clue about the city below. Its a must if your in Seattle.

Thank Joe M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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