Castle Dark is the Halloween facade to Castle Park, a 26-acre amusement park, that offers over 20 attractions, 3 roller coasters, 72-holes of miniature golf, multiple haunted houses, scare zones, and even an interactive dark ride called Ghost Blasters. An institution for over a decade, Castle Dark invites guests to walk through their various mazes that include well-timed jump scares, but little gore and no physical contact.
- Riverside, CA
- Small amusement park with haunted walkthrough mazes and scarezones
- No intentional physical contact of any kind
- Light on blood and gore
- Fantastic mini-golf with 72 holes
- Boo-Blasters interactive ride
- Opportunities for growth
More on Castle Dark
Castle Park has been spending each Halloween season transforming into Castle Dark for years now, building haunted mazes and scattering scareactors throughout the premises amidst carnival-style rides like roller coasters and spinning UFOs. Sort of the light to the now-defunct Scandia Haunt’s dark, so to speak, Castle Dark is not meant for hardcore scare-junkies. Rather, it seems better suited as a great place to acclimate less experienced haunt-goers to what they can expect at a haunted experience. Castle Dark’s mazes, while lacking the power of a high budget behind them, still contain some spectacularly well-timed scares, creating an admirable bang for their buck. The modest size of the park and the mazes themselves also make for a more intimate experience, with a higher likelihood of the personal attention that one might not get at a major theme park haunt.
Castle Park was founded by Bud Hurlbut in 1976, a designer of the Timber Mountain Log Ride and Calico Mine Ride at Knott’s Berry Farm, thus, imbuing this park with some of the Knott’s Berry charm. Now with over twenty attractions, it’s own Halloween event, and full scare zones, it has grown into it’s own, having many aspects that surpass the prior mentioned park.
Similar to Six Flags Fright Fest, Castle Dark is not a separately ticketed event, making it one of the more affordable haunt options in the Inland Empire. A single ticket covers both daytime and nighttime hours, with a small upcharge for maze access.
The small park may admittedly not be the most viscerally terrifying experience in southern California, but having run consistently for over a decade, there’s something to be said for how they’ve raised their intensity bit by bit as the years have rolled on. The scareactors are dedicated, the mazes are intimate, and the scares are efficient. Guests looking to dip their toe into the waters of local, non-major haunted attractions would do well to take a trip down the 91 freeway and give Castle Dark a visit.
Mini-golf: Boasting 4 distinct courses of 18 holes each, the mini-golf occupies nearly half of the space of this amusement park. These holes are not simply just mini-golf though; they each have objects to interact with and massive set pieces ranging from a fort to a mission to the Taj Mahal, to a Japanese Pagoda. This is perfect for a date night or for a way to wind down after a night of being scared.
Mazes: In recent years, Castle Dark has taken to tying each of their mazes together with one narrative throughline (2018, for example, followed an evil stepmother character known as the Lady in White throughout various fear-inducing locales). It’s a small touch, but it’s one that doesn’t cost anything, and makes it easier to become immersed in the nightmare world that Castle Dark creates each year, rather than simply throwing a pastiche of cliches at the wall to see what sticks.
While dark in 2020, 2021 added in their longest and most interactive maze yet, Phobias. Similar to the Scary Place maze of the same name, this maze has you come face to face with some of your worst fears, allowing you to interact with them. This maze is over twice as long as the other mazes this year.
Ghost-Blasters: In addition to their walkthrough mazes, Castle Dark regularly advertises their year-round Ghost Blasters attraction as part of the spooky festivities. While it’s not necessarily specific to the Halloween season, there’s still something charming about taking a trip on such an old-fashioned dark ride at a park like Castle Park. Guests will take up arms with laser blasters against cartoonish spectres throughout the attraction, competing against one another as they shoot away at the two-dimensional apparitions. In 2017, Castle Dark also added the Ghost Manor virtual reality attraction to its lineup, rounding out its entertainment options with some variety.
Rides: Castle Dark’s admission ticket also gives you access to the numerous rides. From a carousel to a swinging boat to a flying school bus to a carousel to a scrambler to a train that gives you some of the best views of the park, most are family friendly. If you want something a little more scary, there is a massive drop-ride called the Dragon’s Tower that resembles that of Tower of Terror, but you are situated outside. They also have a log ride as well as three roller coasters designed for all ages–our favorite was Merlin’s Revenge.
MORE ON HAUNTING
Haunting is a resource for immersive theater and horror fans in Los Angeles and across the world, promoting art and community. Want to help us reach even more people, and get some cool perks and experiences? For as little as $1 a month, you can join our Patreon and help us keep bringing content to life.
If you like the above article and want to find more like it, make sure to join our community. If Facebook is your favorite, follow us there and become a part of our groups for Immersive Horror fans and/or Immersive creators. We’re active on Instagram, posting evocative imagery and informative stories to promote our reviews and recollections; follow us there. You can even find us on twitter; click here to follow. For those who want to explore deeper, we have a vibrant Slack community with new event alerts and immediate ticket sale announcements; click here to join. And subscribe to our event calendar to get emails for all or specific events (look for the link right under the calendar)! Finally, we have a newsletter that comes out once a week; click here to sign up.
So however you like your news being delivered, we have something haunting for you.