So I get it, most of you reading this post know it as the House of Horrors, right? I mean after all, Rocky Point’s premier dark ride was renamed House of Horrors in 1970. And for only nine short year, it was the Castle of Terror.
But in addition to the name of shame, most of you probably only remember the ride’s interior post-early 1980’s redo, when the park replaced all but a few of the ride’s original stunts installed in 1963 by dark ride genius Bill Tracy.
But fear not youngsters! We’re going on a journey back in time to one, the only, the ORIGINAL Castle of Terror!
After pushing through the entrance doors, the first display riders saw was a vampire opening and closing the lid of a standup coffin.
After that, riders ascended up a chain-guided lift hill.
Banging a quick left, confused patrons encountered this Bill Tracy Wall Spider, a papier-mâché spider behind a large wall crack.
Leaving our long-legged friend we emerge into the light for a sharp u-turn on the balcony.
Back into the darkness and moving down a corridor toward the rear of the building, you entered the Torture Chamber. The diorama featured an executioner stretching a victim on a rack, a victim suspended by his ankles over a tub of hot coals, and a female shackled to the wall. You could hear the moans of all three.
Rolling right, brings you to the laboratory of the Mad Scientist who experimented on a severed limb to the sound of bubbling beakers.
Continuing out of the lab to the left, a Giant Ant emerges from a hole in the wall. The Ant is suspensed on a cable and lunges forward, animated by compressed air. They are no sound effects; the hissing of the compressed air through the relief valve surficed.
Rolling towards the front of the building riders are ambushed by a dagger-bearing Jack the Ripper who popped up from behind an alley way wall.
To Jack’s left, another pop-up trick, a Wall Ghoul.
And just before escaping onto the balcony again, you are shocked by a cobra pop-up.
A quick u-turn around the baloney to the far right of the building and tuckedk to an alcove is the Hanging Man stunt; his neck extending by a blast of compressed air.
And then the descent to the ground floor.
A sharp turn to your right and there’s a sharp table saw and its victim: the Old Mill stunt.
Across from the Mill was a man face first in a bloody waterfall and a man hanging from a beam.
Rolling in a straight line, you crash through double doors into the graveyard consisting of a female zombie and two corpses rising from their coffins, behind a splintered picket fence.
Another crash through double doors into a long corridor headed towards the far left of the building. In the distance is a Viking sounding his war horn and the sound is deafening. Your car gets closer as just when you’re about the collide with this fiberglass warrior, the car tracks sharply to the right, brushing the boulder he’s mounted on. As most Rocky Point fans know, the Viking was moved to the facade after the 1969 season.
After a narrow escape from the Viking you enter a cavernous tunnel with a echoing loud, shrill, squeaking. A sharp turn to the left reveals a Giant Bat hovering over the exit doors, animated by a crank motor. Will he block your escape?
And now that you’ve exited into the safety of the daylight, does the illusion on the front of your car look familiar? Like something you just saw?
The name of the Castle of Terror dark ride was changed to the House of Horrors after the 1970 season. See my Rocky Point Park’s dark corners blog post here for the reason behind the change. The mid-1980s marked a complete overhaul inside the ride with all but a few of the original stunts replaced. These are the ones most of you grew up with, such as this display that replaced the Torture Chamber.
Whereas the ride’s corridor walls were originally bare, with the focus on the actual displays, illustrates such as this one were added in the re-do.
A noticeable change detected by we dark ride purists is that the Old Mill victim had been replaced by a day-glow repainted Torture Chamber victim.
So there you have it boys and girls! That’s what the House of Horrors as you knew it, operated from 1963 to 1982. Here’s a timeline graphic I designed.
And for more information about the Castle Of Terror, I recommend these links:
Anita Cerri Ferla
You Must Be This Tall
Tales Of Rocky Point Park