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Haunted Castle @ SCBB Opening Day PTR


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Thanks to TPR, I got the opportunity to attend the opening day event at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for the new Haunted Castle dark ride. I took my two oldest kids (Ellie and Chad) on the 22 hour round trip drive (yes, I am that insane) South from Portland to Santa Cruz for a last minute road trip that included a lot more driving time than park time. Was it worth it? You bet.

 

The ride actually exceeded my own personal expectations. I am admittedly not a "huge" dark ride fanatic, so I didn't really go into it with high expectations. I wasn't expecting a ride of this length and quality from what I would consider a small regional park. It was all very well done from the outside of the building to the what the ride had to offer inside. I liked how it had a nice flow and overall theme along with a nice climax at the end. Unfortunately, it is a dark ride, heavy on the "dark", so the video really doesn't do the ride justice. You get an idea, though.

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=Haunted_Castle_MPEG_hvv4[/coastertube]

 

Overall, it is really a great ride and a great addition to an already excellent park.

 

Anyway, on to the pictures...

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Rain!!! Looking out my front door before leaving at about 6pm. Bring on the sunshine.

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About 13 hours later on the beach catching a few hours sleep before the opening event.

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The kids were more than happy to hang out on the beach while I got some rest.

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I think this is the place.

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Not a lot of people here yet. Trust me, they will be here later.

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The reason we are here.

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Yes, I know, you've all already seen a billion pictures by this time. Well, your gonna see a few more.

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The front of the ride as viewed from the beach (minus giant spider).

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Some of the smaller details.

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Told you they'd come. Everyone getting ready for openning festivities.

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The park handed out some cool stuff before openning the ride.

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This is super groovy awesome TPR member Nicholas aka "coaster-crazy" The park gave him this way cool concept art for all of the coverage he has been giving this ride. Lots of it right here on TPR. I have been a loyal reader of his Haunted Castle contruction thread and I think it was really great of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk to give him that great peice of concept art. Good job!

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Hold on a minute! They have free cake? This ride is awesome!!

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We love rides with cake!

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The ride vehicle. Pretty cool of you ask me.

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The loading area and back of the ride vehicle.

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Lots of spy cameras watching your every move.

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And finally, happy riders returning from their journey through the castle.

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Had to through in this picture of "Good Dipper" because, well, this coaster is amazing and craps all over "Bad Dipper" at Belmont Park.

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And just because this always amazes me. Maybe a deep fried bacon cheeseburger would be worse for your health. Maybe.

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A final shot of the new ride. Thanks a lot to TPR for letting me attend this very cool event and thanks to everyone at SCBB for adding such a great new ride! And thanks for reading!

Edited by robbalvey
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while not anything mind blowing, it looked like a really solid and fun attraction. I wish more regional parks, in particular the chain parks, would put in more attractions like this. It would be good to see more inspired and thought out rides like this showing up. While this ride doesn't look like it will set any new trends in the industry, I think SCBB should be very proud of their new attraction and I will definitely hit up HC next time i go to SCBB.

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Sweeeeet!! Man, the exteriors and the cars look GREAT! Can't wait to try this baby out. Awesome that you put in all those miles; thanks!

 

Also, a shout-out to R&R Creative Designs, the folks who are responsible for the new Castle and a lot of the dark ride goodness at SCBB! Booyah!

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Hmmm, although my insight on this ride is based solely on a pov (and a dark one at that!), I can't say that I'm overly impressed. Now, all the respect in the world to SCBB for trying out a new twist on an old favorite, but from what I can see, it doesn't work as well as it could have. It almost reminds me of Ghostwood Estate at Kennywood. It's fun, but nothing really worth re-riding more than once or twice.

 

I was actually at Waldameer last week and tried out the Whacky Shack. I had no prior knowledge that this was such a classic, so my opinion is not at all biased. By far, that was the coolest dark ride I've been on (outside of Busch Gardens or the like). While this new Haunted Castle ride seems to be based around anamatronics and elaborate set-pieces, the Whacky Shack was more about creating an atmosphere. The "Twighlight Zone" style descent after the outdoor section was incredibly unnerving, especially with the surrounding sound of an increasing heart-beat. So cool. Then of course the strobe light room and the oncoming bus at the end were also memorable. Altogether, that was an awesome dark ride that anybody can love--not just a dark ride enthusiast. I got off feeling all weird and disoriented--like, "what just happened?" and I deffinitely witnessed other riders reacting in the same manner. This Haunted Castle ride seems to lack tricks, suspense, or any sense of claustrophobia/paranoia. The set pieces are awesome, no doubt, but who are they really going to scare? I don't know, I just can't see a bunch of teen-agers waiting thirty mins for this, getting off, and being pleased with the experience.

 

However, for all I know I'm entirely wrong in my assumptions, and this is, in fact, an awesome and award winning dark ride (I hope this is the case!). Anybody who has ridden this care to make a case for this ride? As amusement park enthusiasts, I think we are sometimes more likely to enjoy "classic" rides like these more than the average park-goer. How does the general public react to this ride?

 

Oh, and awesome TR and pics, by the way. God bless you for driving that far haha!

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^^ I would agree with you about The Wacky Shack but that is probably an unfair comparison. Most dark ride enthusiasts consider that an all time classic dark ride that really stands above most others. You just aren't going to see a ride like that being built today.

 

We were at the park for about 5 hours after the ride opened to the public and all I heard was positive responses. It certainly didn't have anything that blew you away, but again, for a small park like that it was on a much larger scale that what I expected. And it did have a few unique aspects about it, the main one being the turn around right when the ride begins and then the spiral decent into the castle. I thought that was a nice touch. I think it is important to keep in perspective the park that this ride is in. It certainly isn't going to match a new dark ride at a Busch park like Dark Kastle or Universal like Spiderman. But I think for SCBB it is going to be a hit and they deserve a lot of credit for doing all they did with a "small park" budget.

 

Plus, the video just really doesn't do it a lot of justice. There really is a lot more going on the you miss in the video.

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I definitely agree with you, and as I said, I have nothing but respect for SCBB. What a great choice of ride to put in, and it is very obvious that this ride was built with the utmost care. It will be very popular with families, and as long as it is advertised as such, I'm sure it will be a success. And as you said, I of course miss a lot by living 3,000 miles away and not having the opportunity to ride this. A POV cannot do the ride justice, and there is a lot I miss because of that. I still do wish that something just a little more unique could have been done to elevate this ride to the next level (not more expensive or technologically advanced--just unique). However, it is a great fit for this park. It looks fantastic and will surely be a success with families.

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^ If you've ever been on the old one you'd understand that this is *quite* an improvement! I mean, just the fact that it's multi-level is already a HUGE plus over the old ride. And where you see some parks remove their dark rides and put in redemption games, it's nice to see a park like this keeping those classic dark rides thriving.

 

--Robb

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^Agreed--I love it when parks install or improve "old-school" dark rides. I always liked the old one at SCBB, but based on the video, the new Haunted Castle looks much better.

 

This has been a good time for myself and dark rides--I really enjoyed Monster Mansion at Six Flags Over Georgia over Memorial Day and thought that Cedar Fair did a good job revamping their old Scooby Doo rides at Carowinds and Kings Dominion.

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Robb makes a great point that I keep forgetting to mention. This is a huge upgrade from the original Haunted Castle. They invested a great deal of money and time into replacing an outdated ride with something much better. They could have easily just plopped another flat ride down and called it good.

 

Chuck, I agree with you about Monster Mansion. I would love to see more parks go with the "boat" version of a dark ride over conventional track. It just really adds a lot to the ride, IMO.

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While this new Haunted Castle ride seems to be based around anamatronics and elaborate set-pieces, the Whacky Shack was more about creating an atmosphere. The "Twighlight Zone" style descent after the outdoor section was incredibly unnerving, especially with the surrounding sound of an increasing heart-beat. So cool. Then of course the strobe light room and the oncoming bus at the end were also memorable. Altogether, that was an awesome dark ride that anybody can love--not just a dark ride enthusiast. I got off feeling all weird and disoriented--like, "what just happened?" and I deffinitely witnessed other riders reacting in the same manner. This Haunted Castle ride seems to lack tricks, suspense, or any sense of claustrophobia/paranoia. The set pieces are awesome, no doubt, but who are they really going to scare? I don't know, I just can't see a bunch of teen-agers waiting thirty mins for this, getting off, and being pleased with the experience.

 

These are my thoughts exactly. Although an overall good ride, it lacks many features which distinguish a good dark ride from a great one.

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I too was privileged enough to attend the grand opening and sat in the new ride car with great expectations.

The ride is fun, family friendly, and there is a lot to see. But what the ride did lack was the element of surprise. I was waiting for something to really come out and scare me. Even the Boardwalk's Ghost Blasters ride has some loud and spooky pop-outs (and it's a ride geared more towards kids).

 

Everything was put together well, but I felt that they were going for more of a Haunted Mansion type of dark ride, which while a good addition to the Boardwalk, left me wondering "why didn't they make this ride scary?"

There were tons of opportunities for something to pop out of the darkness (the swamp scene was one of the best opportunities, as well as certain dark corner areas throughout the different scenes).

 

Things the ride could do without:

The rats. Why? There were too many and they weren't scary.

The random dinosaur in the swamp scene. Why? Because it threw off the whole castle vibe.

The Santa Cruz tourist in the graveyard. Why? While funny, it was sort of cheesey in some ways.

 

Things they should add:

SPIDERS! Why? Because everyone hates spiders... especially giant ones.

Zombies. Why? Graveyard scenes aren't complete without 'em.

 

Some scenes, while well decorated, did not seem to have enough movement. The dungeon scene, while very quick, should've had rattling cages and yelling skeletons. The dinner scene (one of my favorite scenes, which I believe Sally Corp made just for me... ) needed more moving action from the diners sitting at the tables.

 

Another note: The audio was too low in the ride. They need to crank up the volume. I love hearing what the characters have to say, and the voice acting is great.

 

Most pleasurable experiences of the ride (for me):

Going backwards into the basement. Very fun and unique.

The darkness of the swamp scene. Lovin' the dark.

Dinner scene. Sally Corp made my day with it.

The Guillotine scene. One of the coolest parts of the ride, and a great ending.

 

I believe over time the park will see what needs attention in the ride, and will make improvements accordingly.

 

My rating for this ride:

4.5/10

Like I said, it's very family orientated and there's a lot to see, but the "haunted" in the new Haunted Castle isn't so much.

 

FYI: I have two of the songs from the New Haunted Castle's soundtrack uploaded. They can be found at http://www.youtube.com/wumwip

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