We Made the Alcatraz Tour


The ROCK and ROLL Tour

A cruise to ALCATRAZ and then a trip on the MAGIC BUS 

WE ARE SORRY TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE TOURS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE. Please browse our store for fun products!

Many local San Francisco tour companies offer a ticket combining their tour with a trip to Alcatraz- ours has a real link.So what's the connection between the famous Alcatraz Cellhouse tour and San Francisco’s latest innovation- the Magic Bus?


They were both the creation of the same person.

Artist Chris Hardman created the ever popular Alcatraz Cellhouse tour in 1987 for the Golden Gate National Park Association. It was the first and only audio tour to be made entirely from interviews of guards and inmate who served on Alcatraz. No extraneous voices were added. Visitors find the Alcatraz audio tour particularly compelling because of the haunting voices telling their stories in their own words.

At that time audio tours were usually scripts read by curators using real voices was considered an exciting new innovation.

Also considered innovative is Chris Hardman’s invention- the Magic Bus. This is an actual tour bus fitted out with 16 micro projectors and screens that descend over the windows to transform the bus into a moving movie theater!  thus the visitor can alternately see the world as it is and as it was.

The sights and sounds of the past mingle and mix with the world as it is. It’s magic.

Now folks can experience both tours together.

Presenting The ROCK & ROLL Tour

The Tour is a combination package of one ticket to Alcatraz and one ticket to ride the Magic Bus.

You can voyage to the Rock and walk through the halls of a dank cold prison, then hop onboard a multi-colored bus to Haight Asbury and the Summer of Love with its vision of peace, unity, community and universal tranquility.




The Theater that Saved the Voices of Alcatraz

When the National Park Service decided to commission an audio tour production they received two serious proposals. The contract went to a local group, Antenna Theater. Antenna was known for working with interviews and proposed using the voices of inmates and guards instead of producing a narrated script.

Now 50 years after the shuttering of Alcatraz most all of the residents of Alcatraz are no more. Luckily their voices remain.

In 1980 Chris Hardman founded Antenna Theater and started recording real peoples experiences to use as the soundtrack to his shows. His first show Vacuum was a collage of door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen and housewives. Later Hardman produced an audio segment about an inmate in prison for a production called FairPlay.

“Luck would have it that when the National Park Service decided to commission an audio tour I was able to play a tape of an actual inmate talking about his real experiences in prison. Our competitors simple wanted to record a script but when the Rangers heard the raw voices they realized the true power of audio.”

The tape sealed the deal and the original Alcatraz Cellhouse Tour premiered in 1987 made entirely of voices of guard and inmates that served on the island. The Alcatraz Cellhouse Tour is probably the most listened to audio tour in the world.

Many guards and inmates were sought out throughout the country and recorded for the Cellhouse Tour and Park Service has an extensive audio library of many stories about the Rock as told by those who were there – far more that you will hear on the audio tour. None of which would exist except by the serendipitous collaboration between the NPS and Antenna.

Antenna continues today, Chris Hardman has just invented a new interpretive vehicle, which is an actual vehicle- the Magic Bus. It’s a tour bus that, with the aid of video projectors, can transform into a moving movie theater. Past and present co-mingle as screens rise and lower. You can check out the Magic Bus at: MagicBusSF.com

Antenna has also reconnected with Alcatraz by offering a combination ticket – The ROCK and ROLL Tour – purchasing the combo tickets entitles you to experience two of Hardman’s seminal creations. 

To find out more about Antenna go to: http://www.antenna-theater.org


Share this post

Leave a comment

Note, comments must be approved before they are published