"Castle Dark" Monsters Invade Castle Park
The only thing in Riverside that is equally as scary as the 91 Freeway… Castle Dark at Castle Park. With three haunted mazes and dozens of maniacal characters roaming the midways, a spooky good time is to be had while hopping from ride to ride during the park’s evening Halloween celebration.
For those that have never been, the 25-acre amusement center opened in 1976 and features 27 rides, four mini golf courses, a video arcade, restaurants, a seasonal water park, and more. Bud Hurlbut (of Knott's Berry Farm Log Ride and Mine Ride fame) founded and built the Inland Empire family staple, whose influence is apparent in its original architecture. As for Castle Dark itself, when we visited this past weekend, the event was properly staffed to where every area of the ride park had scareactor coverage. With each new monster we saw, we were even more in awe with their persona, costume, and talent. Management also gave them the freedom to interact effectively with the crowd, whether it be scaring, or posing for a picture for that oh-so-important Insta-selfie.
Make sure to catch the rope-drop pre-show on the stage near the entrance, which is a perfect kick-off for the evening!. You could easily spend a visit on a bench anywhere in the park with a soft drink and popcorn and simply enjoy watching guests get chased around in circles. The street and maze talent at Castle Park were on point from before the rope dropped, to the time we left. They were entertaining and effective with their scares. The actors inside the mazes were the backbone of the attractions, and were just as impressive.
Castle Dark is recommended for ages 13 and up, yet a good percentage of park guests were families with children and that seems to be the perfect target market. While clearly spookier than daytime operations, Castle Dark is void of the intense scares and gore their competition produces, which makes for an atmosphere that is less intimidating, and would be a good starting point for attending larger events.
When daytime operations cease, the park reopens at 7 p.m. In terms of entertainment value, the price of admission ($19.95 online, $24.95 at the gate, or free with annual pass) is well worth it. With most of the park operating as usual, there is plenty to do, including nearly two dozen rides, several of which are classic attractions built and/or designed by Bud Hurlbut himself. Inside the arcade, Ghost Blasters, (one the best dark rides in Southern California), allows guests to partake in an interactive gaming experience while traveling through a two-story haunted manor. While not officially billed as a Castle Dark attraction, this ride is the perfect complement!
The overall immersive feel of the street talent, complete with entertaining rope drop, family rides, classic attractions, and park-wide decorations make an October weekend evening visit to Castle Park worthy of a trip. Partake in the scares, grab a funnel cake, play a few games, take a ride on the Antique Cars, and enjoy a spin on the indoor Carousel. Tips: - Get to Castle Park around 6:30, and allow yourself enough time to get inside. - Prior to official park opening, select scareactors interact with the crowd and pose for photos. - The rope-drop ceremony takes place at 7 p.m., on the stage across from the Big Top Restaurant (BBQ). - Make sure to head into the arcade to experience the two-story Ghost Blasters dark ride. - Ride one (or both trains – depending on operating schedule). Park founder Bud Hurlbut loved trains. - Ride the Antique Cars. These came from Knott’s Berry Farm! - Ride Sky Rider for an incredible view of not only the park, but the surrounding area. - Hungry? A pre-scare BBQ is available for under $20, or buy a combo dinner/park ticket which includes a souvenir. - Want to feel like a monster? Purchase the VIP package for an opportunity to scare in a maze.
Castle Dark is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7pm - 11pm, September 28 - October 27.
If Castle Dark sounds too scary, celebrate Dia de los Muertos during the day (Saturdays and Sunday through November 3), the family event features all of the park's standard attractions, as well as arts & crafts, pumpkin painting, a costume contest, and trick-or-treating for guests 12 and under.
Castle Dark Street Talent and Scare Zones
Dark Harvest - A sadistic leader of the children roams the darkness in search of souls to set free from mortal coil.
The Lady In White - A ghostly bride searches for her slain fiancé as other spirits lurk in the shadow.
Dia De Los Muertos - Once dead family members rise from their graves at night to celebrate the witching hour.
Nightmare - The Grim Reaper and his fallen monks stalk the streets in search of guests with wicked souls.
The Midway - Evil carnival music plays as evil circus performers torment all those that enter.
The Park and Scare Zone Photos
Meltdown - Make your way through this fallout ridden nuclear plant and survive the mutated scientists in order to shut down the plant properly before an even bigger disaster befalls the city.
Jinxx & Havoc Twisted Circus - Survive this twisted circus filled with freaks of nature, twisted acrobats and crazy clowns.
The Crooked Man - There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile. He found a crooked six pence, upon a crooked style... He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse. And they all lived together in a little crooked house.. But the crooked man was sad, and once he had a thought. Why should he be crooked? When others they are not... So the crooked man set out, to make a crooked Earth. Crooked men and women, buried in crooked dirt.... And the crooked man stepped forth, and rang a crooked bell. And thus his crooked soul, spiraled in to a crooked hell.... Recite the rhyme as you make your way through this crooked house, filled with crooked children, crooked parents, and perhaps even The Crooked Man himself.
Rides and Attractions