Dark tourism is unique with obvious emotional tendency, in which tourists go through a series of emotional upheaval. However, the existing emotional dimension in the dark tourism experience research is mostly presented as static single dimensions, the internal guiding path and transmission mechanism of emotional experiencing is still unknown. This study selects the disaster, memory and rebuild sites of dark tourism destination of Wenchuan earthquake area as the cases, takes tourist comments and travel notes data as the analysis unit, and constructs the transmission path model of emotional experience of dark tourism in Wenchuan by grounded theoretical research methods. On this basis, the paper explores transmission mechanism from the perspective of system theory. This study finds: dark tourism emotional experience is essentially a ‘practice of internalization’, namely, tourists search for value through the bipolar observation of death and rebirth, realize spiritual transcendence of self-spirit in the reverse positive transfer of emotion from sad complex to cherished identity, which goes through four processes: emotion arousing, emotion reflecting, value internalization and emotion output on the path of time and space. On the other hand, transmission mechanism of dark tourism emotional experience is a circulatory system of interaction among tourists, dark tourism attraction, marker (information about the dark tourism attraction) and natural social environment. The whole system follows the cyclical logic of ‘multiple forces generated—dark tourism experience—meaning and value generation’ on the transmission path of "practice of internalization". The research enriches the process theory of dark tourism emotional experience, help understand the positive transmission of negative emotional experience and provide optimized policy guidance for the sustainable development of dark tourism destination of Wenchuan earthquake area.