Defunct Dark Ride Curse of DarKastle

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Zachary

BGW Eggspert
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Sep 23, 2009
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Some folks who worked to create the ride system feel similarly, FWIW.
I can second this. People I’ve spoken to with connections to the ride’s development are still dumbfounded by what happened to DarKastle. I know Drachen Fire will always be remembered, but it deserved its fate. I know The Wolf will always be remembered, but its demise can be reasonably explained. DarKastle was the rare example of an attraction whose murder was both in no way justified or reasonably explainable. I think its removal is bound to be looked back on as a huge black mark in BGW’s history—possibly as the moment Busch Gardens Williamsburg forfeited any concept of itself as a destination theme park.
 
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Connor

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Sep 20, 2013
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I think its removal is bound to be looked back on as a huge black mark in BGW’s history—possibly as the moment Busch Gardens Williamsburg forfeited any concept of itself as a destination theme park.
Why be sad when we’re getting a 355 FOOT TALL 100+ MPH INTAMIN SHUTTLE COASTER THE YEAR AFTER WE JUST GOT AN INTAMIN SHUTTLE COASTER LETS GO!! MIGHT AS WELL BRING BACK ILLUMINIGHTS WHILE WE’RE AT IT!

In all seriousness, I do think DK was on its last legs towards the end. I don’t think it got anything close to the ridership it needed to warrant the cost of maintenance as it rarely had a wait compared to other roller coasters and attractions throughout the park. SEAS is also notorious for letting themed attractions slowly degrade into shells of themselves and this even occurred during the AB era, as seen with Rhino Rally and JTA. I’ve heard rumors for years that BGT was supposed to receive a dark ride in a similar vein to DK from Falcon’s Treehouse based on an Egyptian theme and I wonder if DK just never hit the mark they had expected. When this ride was installed, it was the single largest investment in the history of the park until Verbolten. It was a multi-year project with the collaboration of several companies and unlike anything the chain had tackled before. I think the reception wasn’t there that the park expected when the ride first opened and combine that with declining ridership every year it was just getting closer and closer to biting the dust.
I think the marketing of the ride was a failure as it advertised this loose story, a 90’ degree drop, and featured essentially nothing with the actual story of the ride. When commercials for Spider-man or Transformers came out they weren’t centered around a straight down drop it was about the story and the adventure “you,” the rider, were about to embark on. Obviously, it could be unfair to make this comparison as both of those attractions are tied to well known IPs, but they aren’t marketing one specific part of a dark ride. Dark rides are supposed to be a multi-media transport system that is designed to tell a story. No park ever advertises one specific part of a dark ride, it’s supposed to be an immersive experience that takes several different forms of media and combines them together to convey the story which DarKastle did excel at for a regional park. I feel all the hype was for this drop in the attraction which is cool, but there’s so much more to the attraction.

I imagine there was some confusion as to what DarKastle was in the eyes of the GP. Oktoberfest is a very light, happy area with bright yellows and blues, and loud oompah music blaring through the speakers and it’s all around a fairly lively area. Seeing this dark foreboding castle, and grey showbuilding, contrasted the area greatly. I think the placement was rather poor as that part of the park is very alive and full of motion and Darkastle just didn’t fit that theme as it stood out immensely with its foreboding facade and eerie music. This area of the park has a family coaster that is an absolute people eater, a massive dining facility, and a number of flats for a variety of riders. It’s hard to pull in riders with so many other attractions that pull in families. I think had the entrance been in Germany, closer to where the entrance to Cornered was, there would be higher ridership as outside of LOD, Alpengeist, and the Skyride there is no other rides in that country.

However, it does shock me that the park just completely removed all remanats of the ride system. No matter what comes next, if that building stays it will be a dark ride. It’s too small and short for a coaster and I doubt the park would fill the space with flats, but then again I also would doubt the park would work with Intamin and here we are.

I absolutely love DarKastle and it is still saddening walking past that giant facade everytime I visit the park. I think there was a lot more factors at play than we know that lead to the demise of the beloved attraction. Theming has proven to not work with SEAS as seen with the failures of Antarctica, Explorers Reef, and arguably Verbolten. It really is a shame that it’s gone, but I hope one day another attraction lies within these castle walls.
 
Feb 14, 2019
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The fully hashed out concept would be good for that particular thread, but seriously - it takes a nostalgic IP of the park (assuming it wasn't actually an IP of a vendor much like Corkscrew Hill seemed to be) and reimagines it as a fun and uplifting adventure through Nostradamus's castle. The facade could be updated to remove the menacing vibe, the new set pieces could include any of the old stage show's props the park may have kept, the storyline is updated so that you're the apprentice (somehow).

Also, I could see this working as a replacement for BfE without the storyline change.
 

ControlsEE

I probably should be working...
Oct 2, 2018
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I actually spoke to an employee about the closing of DarKastle. He said that the track got messed up during HOS (aka Frostbite), and the technology was too old to bother with fixing the ride without it being too costly. I do really wish that they would have found a way to fix it though; it has always been and will always be one of my favorite rides.
Sounds like typical park worker hearsay to me. The facts are that the ride was old, was seeing much less ridership than before, took a larger number of people to operate, and was worth more to the park as an open warehouse than an attraction. Parts are parts. You can almost always find someone to build something and I'm fairly certain that the DK track was made from standard crane electrical parts which are pretty easy to find anyways.
 
Sep 24, 2018
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I actually spoke to an employee about the closing of DarKastle. He said that the track got messed up during HOS (aka Frostbite), and the technology was too old to bother with fixing the ride without it being too costly. I do really wish that they would have found a way to fix it though; it has always been and will always be one of my favorite rides.
To tack onto what @ControlsEE said, the park had pretty much already decided to move on from it when it closed too put a maze in there. The facts are simply that DK was an expensive labor intensive ride that had very low ridership most days. So it wasn't worth the labor investment and the park felt there was more benefit to be had from using the building for other things. Honestly if more people had consistently ridden it then it would still be around today.
 
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