Castle of Fear 2009 Review


Castle of Fear-“Fear Will Find You”
Inside ScreamPark it’s dark, mysterious and somewhat spooky before deciding which haunt you want to tour first. The only lights you’ll see are spinning DJ lights from above and lights lighting up the various facades for each attraction with the exception of The Abyss. The facade for The Abyss is pitch black just like the rest of it. The first haunt we decided to tour was Castle of Fear. It’s arguably the most technically impressive haunt at ScreamPark. We were ready to be frightened, but were we?

Length-7: Your tour through Castle of Fear will take around 10 minutes to complete. There are plenty of scares every which way you turn, but a few scenes that are crying out for some actors or high end animatronics. There are just too many areas where little is happening and you are wondering if something or someone is about to emerge from the darkness.

Design-8: The design of Castle of Fear is somewhat similar to many theme park haunts where the walls join together and have paint schemes where it looks like there are stains or age spots. The wood panels themselves look nice, but are pretty bare when it comes to decor. There are impressive scenes such as the large realistic graveyard full of tombstones and real dirt, the various catacombs, crypts and much more. The smell of decay and dirt could be smelled throughout the graveyard courtesy of Sinister Scents.

The addition of fog and synchronized lighting would help in creating a more dynamic graveyard. As of now the graveyard is nice, but could be nicer. There are many scenes throughout Castle of Fear, but I’m afraid that the use of low lighting is covering up the lack of detailing in some of the scenes. The lights need to be just a little brighter so some of the detailing can be highlighted better.

Props/Animatronics-7: Castle of Fear is reminiscent of the type of attractions you would find at Kings Island Halloween Haunt. They are detailed, have great actors, but aren’t full of impressive animated scares. This is the case with Castle of Fear. Most of the impressive props you’ll come across were made by Unit 70 Studios in Columbus Ohio. These include skeleton warriors, a half dead horse, an animated werewolf and much more.

There are far too many areas that are detailed, but are lacking decor. These include the various crypts you’ll venture through or the expansive graveyard. The graveyard is large and impressive, but could use some zombie animatronics and lots and lots of fog. Overall there is tons of potential for Castle of Fear to be a high tech haunt that competitors would be jealous of.

Acting-8: The actors at Castle of Fear are great to say the least. Their use of elaborate costumes and detailed makeup really help create realistic characters. The characters you’ll meet look like they are straight out of medieval times. For the most part they are well timed, but there are too many rooms where you can tell where the actors are hidden. Any time there is a panel or picture that isn’t well hidden in the wall, that’s mostly likely a spot where an actor is about to jump out of.

This element of the haunt needs to be fixed as soon as possible. If you have small groups of people touring Castle of Fear they will be more likely to pay attention to details in rooms versus large groups of people who will walk faster from scene to scene. So most people will start to catch on to where an actor is hiding after they’ve seen a few panels hidden in walls.

Scare Effect-8: If the various animatronics don’t get you, the impressive array of characters will. The haunt itself is creepy, but the actors themselves are the highlight of the experience. They are intense, relentless and most of the time on queue. The addition of more frightening music and thick fog would help with some of the scenes that are lacking in decor. Because the rooms that aren’t full of impressive eye candy aren’t as scary as those that have dedicated actors waiting to attack.

Customer Service: When we arrived we were a little unsure of where to park, so we parked at the nearby bar/nightclub. It was also a bit difficult finding the haunt since you have to walk a little to spot the building and will need to walk down an alley to enter ScreamPark. More signs need to be posted at nearby businesses so people aren’t confused where to go. The staff at ScreamPark couldn’t be any nicer. They are very helpful in answering questions and are always there to assist you. It’s a very organized haunt with people that really like what they are doing.

Fright Value: $15 for 3 high quality haunts is unheard of when some mediocre haunts are charging $15 or more for one attraction lasting a little under 10 minutes. ScreamPark is offering a real deal with each haunt costing $5 each. It doesn’t get any more reasonable then that. The only problem with this ticket price is that it’s going to make people think the haunts are poor quality when this isn’t the case. An increase in ticket price next year may help with business because people don’t want to think the tickets are cheap because the haunts are.

Final Stab-7.6: Castle of Fear has lots of potential and is heading in the right direction in becoming a first rate haunt. Some areas just need to be tweaked a little such as the actors hiding spots, the detailing in some scenes and the heavy use of low lighting. With a little improvement this could be a better haunt which people will remember all year round.