The Curse of DarKastle
|Curse of DarKastle|
|Busch Gardens Williamsburg|
|Opening date||May 1, 2005|
|Length||1,000 ft (300 m)|
|Capacity||1,450 riders per hour|
|Height restriction||42 in (107 cm)|
Quick Queue available
Curse of DarKastle is a 21st-century dark ride located at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia. It is a hybrid ride, combining roving motion-simulating vehicles, 3D videos projected onto screens, physical sets, in-vehicle music and special effects (wind, water, fog, and lighting), all perfectly synchronized. Curse of DarKastle carries a rider height requirement of 42 inches, but with a sign warning that scenes within the ride may be too intense for young children. It takes place in a haunted gothic mansion, with evil ghosts and a demonic werewolf.
Preshow & Storyline
The queue line for Curse of DarKastle is entered under a frozen, crumbling arch under the Bavarian castle's highest tower, two wolf statues are standing at the end of the arch. It then weaves throughout the outdoor courtyard of the castle. The line weaves around a statue of three howling wolves covered in ice and aged as copper. As guests enter in the hallways within the palace, flickering candelabras light the way into a large, circular stone chamber in which the preshow is projected using simple animation as a heavily accented voice tells the tale of the castle's haunted past:
"Long ago in the deepest heart of the black forest, a young prince lived, unloved and neglected in a dark castle. Like the ghostly horrors that always grow in secret shadows, Prince Ludwig grew to be a troubled child. Soon, even the kindest of servants avoided his evil gaze. One dark winter's night, as Ludwig wandered the lonely, frozen grounds of the palace, an old woman appeared. Outraged at this intrusion, Ludwig howled in fury! There, in her place, stood a snarling wolf. As her angry yellow eyes bored into Ludwig's, she revealed his dark destiny: Wicked ruler of a corrupt kingdom. Guided by the wolf, Ludwig set out to take the throne. His parents tried to put an end to his ruthless ambitions, but they mysteriously vanished.
Mad little Ludwig became King, and transformed the castle into an impenetrable fortress with secret passageways to terrify his guests. Soon, the treasury was empty. Ludwig's advisers tried to overthrow him, but he just laughed and threw a lavish winter festival in their honor. That night, mad Ludwig took his guests on a tour of his castle, in a fleet of golden sleighs. No one knows what really happened, but they say the walls echoed with terror... The next morning, the sleighs were found in their stalls, but no one ever found Ludwig or his party guests, and to this day, the castle remains frozen in time. Now enter... if you dare."
As the final words are spoken, the torches in the chamber turn to blue flames as a stone wall lifts, ushering guests into a grand hall in which the fleet of golden sleighs again waits, ready for Ludwig's newest guests.
Immediately upon the ride's beginning, the sleigh rounds the corner, entering into the forest outside the castle. There, gnarled trees with glowing, vague faces seem to groan "Why are you here?" "Get Out" in a deep voice. Approaching the castle's front doors, the ghostly apparition of Ludwig's mother flies out of the door, hovering just in front of the vehicle, warning riders that they must get outside the castle walls, because her son has no power there. Just as she disappears, Ludwig's voice booms through the courtyard, menacingly inviting riders to tour his castle as two stone wolves adorning the stairway come to life and leap onto the sleigh, snarling and biting at riders.
Once inside, suits of armor adorning a long hallway come to life, stepping off their pedestals and jabbing spears towards riders. One of the helmets falls off, ricocheting off the floor and levitating just in front of the sleigh, its face-guard lifting to reveal a skeletal face screeching within. Retreating down another hallway, guests enter the music room where the ghost of Ludwig manifests in a flaming whirlwind, blowing gusts of air onto riders and lifting the various musical instruments into the air, slamming them around the room. Outraged at the survival of the riders, he shouts "You have such hunger for my secrets?! Come, it shall be fed!", launching a flaming blue orb at riders, flashing brightly in the room.
Blasted backwards into the kitchen, the sleigh looks down a long dining table set for a feast. Ludwig's ghostly voice emanates from the walls as knives fly at the riders, whizzing past on all sides. Appearing at the opposite head of the table, Ludwig grabs a knife, flies towards the sleigh, and mocks cutting off his own head, as it appears on a platter being served by a skeletal waiter.
Entering into a dimly lit hallways, Ludwig's mother's voice again urges riders that they "must get out before it's too late." Ludwig mockingly tells his mother that the guests ought to stay, as it's about to be "a blast." Just then, the torches all blow out as a wall of wind gusts down the hall. Passing a brightly lit portrait of the young Ludwig and disfigured paintings of his parents, the sleigh pulls into the two-story library. There, above the fireplace, a portrait of Ludwig comes to life, issuing guests towards the smoking, flaming fireplace. As the sleigh is physically felt pulling away from the fire, Ludwig pulls it in. The vehicle spins out-of-control in the pitch-black darkness, rising out of the chimney.
Immediately out of the chimney, Ludwig's mother grabs hold of the sleigh and pulls it through the sky, weaving between the castle's turrets as they crash down, leading riders to the castle's walls and escape from Ludwig's powers. But Ludwig grabs the sleigh, pushing it back towards the castle. His mouth opens as his tongue turns into a snake, hissing and lashing out at riders.
The sleigh spins around and its nose dips down towards the courtyard below, but Ludwig's mother grabs halt of it before the sleigh can fall. A comet shoots down past the guests into the ground below, and Ludwig's fiery apparition launches toward the sleigh, morphing into a werewolf as he roars "Mother, you're driving me insane!" From behind you his mother shouts "Ludwig, my son, you were never sane to begin with!"
Just then, Ludwig falls from the sky, dragging the sleigh with him in a simulated free-fall from the castle's turret and crashing into the glass conservatory, complete with frozen plants and golden wolf statues. Ludwig leaps over the sleigh, his weight cracking the ground as the sleigh drops again, this time down into a cavern underneath the castle. The cave walls depict ghostly faces with glowing eyes and mouths. Rounding the corner, Ludwig's werewolf figure bursts down a door, leaping towards the car with his claws outstretched. His mother laughs, shouting "They are beyond your reach!" Leaving the castle walls and thus forfeiting his eternal soul, Ludwig turns to ice and shatters, spraying riders with water. His voice echoes through the hall, "You will never escape!" as the sleigh returns to the great hall and guests disembark.
Curse of DarKastle was designed by Falcon's Treehouse, LLC of Orlando, Florida. The 4D media was designed and produced by Super 78 Studios.
Curse of DarKastle features a ride system (vehicles, track, and ride control system) developed by the Entertainment Systems division of Oceaneering International, Inc called EVOLUTION Dark Ride System. The vehicles are capable of pitch, roll, heave, and yaw motions as they move through the attraction, programmed to synchronize with the attraction show. The motion base has a four degree motor.
Similar technology developed by Universal Creative is utilized in The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, which predates DarKastle, opening in 1999 at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida and in 2004 at Universal Studios Japan. Spider-man's ride system utilizes electric screw drives for yaw, pitch and roll whereas Darkastle uses pneumatic airbags. Since its opening another attraction of this type has been commissioned in Japan at the Tokyo Dome (Tokyo Panic Cruise, 2009) and at Ferrari World theme park on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
In the off-season after the ride's first season, the park took advantage of a system set up to allow scenes to be added and changed wirelessly and efficiently. Four scenes were changed, in the hopes of taking advantage of the 3D technology and creating a more thrilling ride. An on-ride video of the original ride before the update can still be seen online (see, external links).
- Before the update, a large group of guests would enter the circular stone chamber and the preshow video would play. When the video finished, the Narrator's voice could be heard saying, "Now enter... if you dare" and the passageway in the wall would open allowing the group of guests to continue along the line. Then another group would enter the stone chamber and the preshow would restart. After the update however, the line continued on through the stone chamber, the passageway in the wall is always open and you would only be able to view the preshow if you were currently in the chamber when it played. The original preshow system returned in the 2012 season.
- Originally, in the opening scene, Ludwig's yellow eyes appeared on the doorway after his mothers initial warning to turn back. Only then did the stone wolves flanking the door come to life - just as the car spun around to enter the castle, the wolf leapt towards it. After the update, Ludwig's eyes are not present (though his voiceover remains), and a wolf jumps onto the car, snarling and biting at the riders for a moment before the sleigh turns.
- In the dining room scene, Ludwig remained seated at the opposite head of the table as the covered platter flies towards the riders. Lifting the platter's dome, Ludwig's head was revealed to be underneath it. After the update, Ludwig actually approaches the vehicle, grabbing a cleaver off the table and cuts off his own head (though he disappears as he does so, so no gore is shown) before the waiter approaches with his head.
- After the music room and before entering the library, the sleigh slowly traveled down the hallway, viewing portraits of Maximilian II (Ludwig's father), Ludwig, and Marie (Ludwig's mother) as Maximilian and Marie's portrait lights dimmed and Ludwig's became brighter. After the update, the sleigh now travels down this hallway backwards, looking at the torches that were previously behind riders in order to accommodate the air blast effect. The sleigh still does come within view of the original three portraits, now promptly before entering the library. Ludwig's portrait remains lit, and his parents' are dim and disfigured.
- The final change was the most noticeable. Originally, after the fireplace scene, the sleigh would exit from the darkness into a "ballroom" scene, where various ghosts were seen dancing together to classical music. A "waiter" ghost then offered 3D champagne to the riders. The dance was interrupted by a raving Ludwig, who was held back by two of his ghostly victims, shouting "Mother they're mine!" Throwing his restrainers to each side, he then flew off to the right, which transitioned into the "sideways" scene, where Ludwig transforms into the werewolf. After the 2006 update, the fireplace scene led into the "escape" scene, where Ludwig's mother grabs the sleigh and pulls it through the air, flying at high speed as towers crash on either side (see above). Then, Ludwig grabs the sleigh and a 3D snake comes out of his mouth and bites at riders, which transitions into the "sideways" scene. Obviously this change came with reprogrammed ride motions.
- Due to these changes, the story of Ludwig's battle with his mother was somewhat downplayed, with dialogue between the two limited. This includes an exchange in the portrait hallway and during the ballroom sequence.
- "Curse of DarKastle - Busch Gardens". Retrieved 2009-12-13.
- "Super78 Studios Projects". Retrieved 2009-12-13.