Busch Gardens Williamsburg closing DarKastle after 13-year run

Posted Friday, January 26, 2018 9:32 AM | Contributed by OhioStater

Busch Gardens will close The Curse of DarKastle ride after 13 years, the park announced on its Facebook page Tuesday. The space will be used as a special events venue starting this year, according to the post.

Read more from The Virginia-Pilot.

Friday, January 26, 2018 12:16 PM

Maybe enthusiast's love for dark rides is over rated?

I rode this last summer and it seemed to be in good shape. Is there some underlying mechanical issue causing them to scrap it? Or is this simple a case of the old technology being dumped in favor of the VR technology?

Could they sell the system to another park?

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Friday, January 26, 2018 12:21 PM

It’s expensive to run and Sea World Parks is trying to cut budget. A damn shame because this is a signature attraction that really defines the park for me.

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Friday, January 26, 2018 12:30 PM

I think I've ridden it a couple times. It was neat, but pretty forgettable. It's one of those attractions that I forget is even there until I pass it. Then it's like, "Hey, wanna ride that?" "Eh, maybe..." "Or we can hit it later." "Cool."* And then we forget about it.

*Actual conversation with myself, not someone I was with. That's how I roll.

Last edited by Vater, Friday, January 26, 2018 12:31 PM
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Friday, January 26, 2018 12:42 PM

You know you haven't been to a park in a long time when a ride is introduced and closed before you can get back to it.

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Friday, January 26, 2018 12:48 PM

Been on Spider-Man at Universal? Yeah, it was like that, but nowhere near as good. And honestly, that's about all I remember about it.

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Friday, January 26, 2018 1:24 PM

Pure speculation on my part so don't read this as gospel, but--

Could the control system be the reason for the demise of the ride? I've never been on DarKastle but if precise motion is involved and the controllers themselves wear out, they aren't cheap to replace. On top of that these rides typically don't employ brand new technology when they open and instead rely on devices that have been on the market 5-10 years because they are more developed and reliable than brand new technology.

There's a good chance that spare parts were depleted and the parts they needed are now obsolete and discontinued. So now the ride control system would need to be upgraded to something newer which would need to be re-engineered to work with the existing ride. The cost could be high enough that based on ridership and depreciation, it wasn't worth it.

Just my two cents based on what I see in the automation world.

Last edited by HeyIsntThatRob?, Friday, January 26, 2018 1:27 PM
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Friday, January 26, 2018 1:51 PM

Vater said:

Been on Spider-Man at Universal? Yeah, it was like that, but nowhere near as good. And honestly, that's about all I remember about it.

Same.

I'm seeing people lamenting the loss and I'm thinking, "Huh?"

It was fine, but very forgettable. Vater's summary above is pretty spot on.

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Friday, January 26, 2018 2:39 PM

That’s like saying I shouldn’t be sad if my local park got rid of a coaster because Millennium Force is better. Some of us can’t get to Orlando or SoCal on a regular basis so DarKastle was our taste of an e-ticket ride at a more regional park.

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Friday, January 26, 2018 3:31 PM

The last time I was at the park the ride was terrible. Screens were fuzzy and several of the rooms were way out of sync. I mentioned it to the ride op at the exit and I just kind of got the side-eye, a “what, again?”, then a thank you. When I went by later in the day it was closed.

The first time I rode it, maybe the second year, I thought it was pretty cool, and surprisingly, very Spiderman-like. But in the meantime better technology has come along (even for Spiderman) and I guess I became jaded about that sort of attraction.
And the real shame is that the park, for whatever reason, is choosing to scrap the experience rather than attempting to update it with new tech and storyline. It was absolutely something that served to further round out the decent list of attractions there.

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Friday, January 26, 2018 4:01 PM

PhantomTails said:

That’s like saying I shouldn’t be sad if my local park got rid of a coaster because Millennium Force is better. Some of us can’t get to Orlando or SoCal on a regular basis so DarKastle was our taste of an e-ticket ride at a more regional park.

I haven't been to Universal since 2000. I haven't ridden DarKastle since...hmm...could it be opening year? 2005. Thinking about it again, I may have only ever ridden it one time. So yeah, it's nothing to write home about, to me.

They've changed their other sim ride like twelve times and no one laments the loss of the one before it. I actually thought the original incarnation (Questor), dated as it seems now, was the best, but I can't say I miss that ride, either. In fact I don't even know what that building is used for now, and I don't really care all that much. It was always something to do if we had nothing else to do.

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Friday, January 26, 2018 5:09 PM

I hear it needed lots of work and the work was very expensive so you may be on to something Rob.

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Friday, January 26, 2018 5:22 PM

Mr. Vater is right about those other simulators, but I never really cared for the ones where you sit in a kleenex box and there’s the peep-show curtain that reveals the movie. (I’m looking at you, even, Star Tours)
But wait... the most successful one had to do with Irish folklore or something and the riders actually were trapped in a box and the characters were big and looked down at you and did things to the box. I forget the name now, it was a couple of incarnations ago. But I liked that one.

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Friday, January 26, 2018 9:15 PM

Corkscrew Hill. I never got to do it.

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Saturday, January 27, 2018 3:10 PM

I'm disappointed by this news. Its closure is obviously a cost cutting measure, as they're replacing it with nothing but seasonal event space. While DarKastle was never as good as some of the dark rides in Orlando, it was a fairly impressive attraction for a seasonal park. The park will have a bit of a gap in its ride line-up now without a real dark ride (not counting the VR thing and Pompeii). In my mind, DarKastle was one of the rides that really differentiated Busch Gardens as more of a theme park, and differentiated it from Kings Dominion up the road.

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Saturday, January 27, 2018 3:59 PM

Corkscrew Hill was as average and forgettable as everything else that was in that building.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018 7:13 PM

Now a dragon wagon on the other hand...

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Sunday, January 28, 2018 7:44 PM

They're also adding "The Battle of Eire"; something they are touting as being the first of its kind in North America, so the dark ride cupboard isn't going to be completely bare.

Last edited by OhioStater, Sunday, January 28, 2018 7:53 PM
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