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Curse of Darkastle

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It's nowhere near as good as Spider-Man, but it's the only ride in the world which is similar to Spider-Man. It was a lot of fun, I enjoyed it, one of the best dark rides out there-- well themed and v exciting. Just not as good as Spidey is!

Certainly worth a visit.

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I agree--DarKastle isn't as good as Spider-man, but it's definitely in the same league (an excellent addition to BGW). Best hit it first thing in the morning, though, to beat the lines. Here's a rule of thumb: if the line starts right at the Kastle's main gate, the wait will be about an hour. Another tip: if the ride malfunctions while you're on it, tell the CM as you exit, who will probably give you a VIP voucher that allows you to skip the line.

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I will go the opposite way on this. And not just because everyone likes SpiderMan.


I liked DarKastle more based on the originality of it. True the concept isn't new, but the characters and story is. SpiderMan is an enormously popular comic book character with villians and friends already made up. DarKastle is completely unique. To me, there isn't a big enough difference in the ride itself to say SpiderMan is better. So I turn to creativity, uniqueness, and themeing. That is where DarKastle wins (to me )

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^the biggest thing that makes Spiderman better is not all of the show effects are 3D, there is some live action too. Whereas the only live "special effect" is entering the fireplace, and that could use a bit of work too, like putting something in there instead of just blackness, because it get's kinda repetitive in there.


The one thing on Darekastle that is much better than Spidey is the layout. I prefer DarKastle's more because it isn't all flat, there is some elevation change (still not as much as Indy tho )

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Here's a review I wrote on the ride...


The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man opened at Islands of Adventure in 1999. The ride was one-of-a-kind, as it was a dark ride that mixed simulator technology, 3-D images, and practical effects to create an incredible ride experience. I remember riding it for the first time in 1999. Throughout the ride, my eyes were wide open and my jaw dropped. The ride was truly awe-inspiring. After riding Spider-Man many times since, I still have a sense of amazement on the ride. I still want to ride it many times, just as I did when I first experienced it. No other theme or amusement park had built a ride that had emulated the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man experience, not even Disney.


Six years after the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man debuted, Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia has developed a ride that utilizes Spider-Man ride technology. Busch Gardens Williamsburg opened the Curse of DarKastle: The Ride in the Octoberfest section of the Germany area. When I heard about the ride, I was interested to see what another theme park company can do with Spider-Man ride technology. I journeyed up to Busch Gardens Williamsburg in July to find out.


The story of the Curse of DarKastle is explained during the pre-show video. It revolves around Prince Ludwig. As a child, he was more neglected and unloved than a kid from a Ronald Dahl book. When Ludwig was a child, an old woman transformed into a wolf and gave him a preview of his future: a wicked ruler of a corrupt kingdom. Ludwig was guided by the wolf and eventually took over the throne from his parents (who mysteriously vanished). He transformed the castle into a fortress. His advisors tried to overthrow him, but he instead threw a lavish winter festival in their honor. He took his guests on a tour of the castle on a fleet of golden sleighs. Something happened during that night because Ludwig and the party guests disappeared, leaving the sleighs behind. The castle now remains frozen in time.


Why are we entering the castle instead of taking a vacation to the Bahamas then? I couldn’t really find an answer from the queue or the pre-show video. I think we are to find the secrets of DarKastle and lift the curse. I think most of us want to be going to the beach instead of visiting a spooky castle, but it wouldn’t be a theme park ride without some sense of danger.


The ride vehicles are the golden sleighs, which are similar to the Scoops in the Spider-Man ride. Instead of three rows that hold four guests each, there are two rows that seat four guests in each row. The door doesn’t swing down like the one on a Scoop, but they swing out like a car door and the ride operator slams the door shut on you. The Scoops have a lap bar for all the guests in the row, but the sleighs have individual lap bars. We then enter the DarKastle to find its secrets and lift the curse.


The ride begins as the ghost of the Queen (Ludwig’s mother) warns us to go away. We go into the castle anyway. Ludwig appears for a few scenes and toys with us as we journey through the castle. He sends his wolves after us, knights attack us, and he even serves his head on a platter. Finally, the Queen stops Ludwig, we travel out of the castle, and like any theme park ride, the bad guy Ludwig meets his doom in the end.


The ride has many good points:


· The CGI animation in the ride film is very well done. The 3-D images are very sharp and crisp. They are similar to the clarity of the 3-D images in Shrek 4-D at Universal Studios Florida.

· The storyline is easy to follow and is entertaining.

· The movement of the sleighs is very fluid and smooth. Most people who have experienced motion sickness on other simulator rides should not become sick on the Curse of DarKastle. Only the most sensitive people to motion sickness may have issues.

· The theming of the ride is very well done and gives the castle a mysterious and spooky look.

· Best of all, the ride has the coolest air conditioning of any ride in the park. As soon as you enter the shaded area in the queue, you’re hit by cool blasts of air. The air conditioning in the show building is very refreshing. You can cool off on a hot summer day in the Curse of DarKastle ride!


The downside of the ride is that it isn’t the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. I hate comparing rides to other similar rides. I may say that an element in another ride is better or worse than a similar one on the ride that I’m reviewing. Overall, I like to judge a ride on what it does with what it has rather than how it compares to other rides. However, the Curse of DarKastle really begs comparison to the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Not only do they use similar technology, but many scenes in Curse of DarKastle are reminiscent of scenes in IOA’s Spider-Man ride. In fact, as the sleigh was floating around in the air in DarKastle, I started to sing the guitar solo from the part in the Spider-Man ride as the Scoop is floating above New York City! In the Curse of DarKastle, the ghost of the Queen warns us to turn back, which is similar to Spider-Man’s warning at the beginning of his ride for us to turn back. The drop in DarKastle is similar to the drop in Spider-Man. DarKastle’s sleigh even spins around three times as it goes down the fireplace, much like Spider-Man’s Scoop spins around three times as it goes down the sewer. The scenes are similar, but ordered in a different way.


The Curse of DarKastle relies mostly on film-based effects, while the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man relies on film-based effects and practical effects. A film-based effect is the 3-D effect projected on the screen. An example of a film-based effect from Spider-Man is the scene where the Hobgoblin tosses a pumpkin bomb at us and Spider-Man pulls it back away from us at the last second. A practical effect is when the Hobgoblin throws a second pumpkin bomb at us, but it ends up hitting the bridge and a flame shoots out from that area. The use of practical and film-based effects in the Spider-Man ride make it a more visceral and immersive ride experience. The Scoop’s motion base is used to great effect as you feel every hit, crash, and pull thrown at you from the film-based effects. One example of this is Spider-Man jumping onto the hood of the Scoop and the entire vehicle tilts forward as the stands there. You can feel the debris of the explosions from the film-based effects hit the Scoop. The 3-D projection of the debris isn’t really there, but it feels like it hit you from the use of the motion base.


The designers of the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man turned their ride experience to 11 with the combination of practical and film-based effects in sync with the motion simulator base of the Scoop. I rode the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man a few days after riding the Curse of DarKastle. I was trying to find things that would make Spider-Man a better ride experience. The only thing that I could see was that the ride film could be sharper and crisper.


While I was riding the Curse of DarKastle, I could see that the ride could be improved a lot with practical effects. The ride uses two practical effects: a fake fire (colored smoke that masquerade as fire) and a water effect. There could have been more. One scene, Ludwig has two wolves leap out at us and as they get closer and closer to the sleigh, they just disappear. One of the wolves could crash into the sleigh and push our ride vehicle to a different area. Another scene has Ludwig shooting a blue fireball at us. The fireball gets closer and closer to us and then…disappears. The fireball could have hit us and knocked the sleigh around. It could have even missed us and blew up a castle wall beside us.


DarKastle has a drop like Spider-Man. Spider-Man uses motion, air effects, and music to simulate an effective drop. I’ve seen guests who scream and throw their hands up during the drop. Some guests even believe they’ve dropped! After the drop in DarKastle, I said, “Oh, we just dropped.” There was no wind effect or any other practical effect queue to make the simulated drop feel like a drop.


The ending of the Curse of DarKastle was a little flat too. Spider-Man has the excellent drop ending. The bad guy in DarKastle is just defeated and the ride ends. I said “Ho-hum” to the end.


The sleigh in the Curse of DarKastle doesn’t have aggressive movements like the Scoop in the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. That may lessen the chance of motion sickness in guests, but it doesn’t make the ride an exciting experience. In Spider-Man, the Scoop moves around a lot to create a wild ride of being chased by the Sinister Syndicate through New York City. The sleighs in DarKastle didn’t feel like they moved much, particularly during the 3-D scenes. The sleigh did seem to shake when Ludwig appeared out of a tornado in one scene, but the sleigh’s motion seemed very limited.


I did like one scene in the Curse of DarKastle, though. Ludwig sends ghostly knights after us and they shoot arrows from their crossbows at us. The crossbows fly to the left and right of our heads. You can also hear the arrows whizzing by. That scene almost made me duck!


When I ride the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, I usually run around the building saying, “Again! Again!” and I ride it again. After riding the Curse of DarKastle, I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “Eh.” I did ride it again, but only because I wanted to experience it again so I can write a better review of it for IOA Central, not because I had any desire to ride it again.


As other guests were leaving the Curse of DarKastle ride, I could hear them say, “That was great!” and “That was the best use of 3-D anywhere!” I suppose if you haven’t ridden the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure, then the Curse of DarKastle might dazzle you. Otherwise, you might just shrug your shoulders and say, “The Spider-Man ride was better” after riding DarKastle. It just seemed like a kinder, gentler Spider-Man. I would even call it a “second-rate Spider-Man.” While Spider-Man turned it up to 11, DarKastle only turned it up to 7.


I would probably ride it again if the line was short, but I wouldn’t make a special trip to ride it. I would visit DarKastle again primarily to experience the sweet, delicious air conditioning on a hot summer day. I would visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg again, though. The park is very beautiful and very clean. The rides are fun, the roller coasters are thrilling, the shows are entertaining, the employees are friendly, and the food is delicious!



Tips for the Curse of DarKastle: The Ride


· If you want to ride, head to the Curse of DarKastle when it first opens. I waited about 15 minutes for each of my rides because I headed to DarKastle first. Later in the afternoon, the line was over an hour long.

· In the pre-show room, if you want to be the first ones on the ride sleigh, stand beside the tapestry with the wolves on it. The tapestry is located to the left as you enter the pre-show room. After the pre-show video is over, that wall will open to the ride load area.

· For a better view of the 3-D images, sit in one of the center two seats rather than the edges.

· There is no difference in the view from the first or second row. Either row will give you a good view.

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