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August 29th, 2005

Brigantine Castle

When I was a kid, I remember being at the shore and seeing commercials for Brigantine Castle, a set-up in the nearby shoretown of Brigantine where live actors waited throughout the castle dressed up in costumes and scared the crap out of anyone that walked through. I recall even the commercials scaring me and thinking, “Wow, I can’t wait until I’m old enough to go into Brigantine Castle and not be too scared!”

Alas, I never went. But a visit to the shore this weekend reminded me of this commercial, so I did a little checking on this new thing called The Internet to see what others remembered of the commercial and the place.

Haunted Attraction Magazine has a nice piece about the castle from a visitors perspective and also talks about some of the rules the actors had to follow. Tell me that this description of one of the rooms doesn’t sound creepy: “Several sideshow optical illusions were used in the castle including the ‘headless woman.’ In this room, the body of a live woman sat in a chair. Tubes protruded from her neck, which hid two mirrors, creating the illusion that she had no head. She would constantly reach at the ‘doctor’ tending her. The doctor would constantly push the head away, behaving as if this was nothing but an annoyance that this headless woman kept grabbing at her.”

Frightscape has some great old pictures, including some “after” shots of the area after the castle burned down in 1987.

Dark in the Park has even more “after” shots.

Looking at the pictures and articles makes me wish that the castle had lived on it. It looks like it was quite a treasure and would have been a heck of a lot of fun to visit, even if I still would be a little scared by the “rat room.”

Posted in Childhood Memories

FROM: Joe Revees
DATE: Monday August 29, 2005 -- 12:50:52 pm
That place sounds like it was great!

It seems like all the great 'summer' haunted houses have met their demise.

While I was growing up, we went to this one sometimes in Door County, Wisconsin, that was really well done. It was actually a Haunted Mansion at this small amusement park called 'Thumb Fun Park.'

It was a much smaller version of what this Brigantine Castle sounds like. However, they used illusions and secret passageways to their advantage. For example, the first room you enter, you get locked in and have to find the exit. There's several doors and revolving bookcases, some with actors lurking behind them.

You just never knew where people were going to jump out at you from next.

Alas, they tore the place down about 4 years ago to make condos.

I think that developing and running my own 'Haunted Mansion' is one of the things I'd like to do when I win the lottery. Guess, I'd better start playing it, then...



FROM: snaily
DATE: Monday August 29, 2005 -- 4:45:44 pm
my family has an odd fascination with ghosts. on our summer vacation this year we stopped at every single grave yard, and too a picture to see if any kind of "spirit" would come out when we developed it. of course, all we saw were headstones and grass in the pictures, but the thought of what could have happened was extremely exciting.



FROM: jk
DATE: Monday August 29, 2005 -- 10:06:11 pm
I definitely remember the commercials; we used to go to Wildwood Crest every summer. I never went to Brigantine though.



FROM: Aanen
DATE: Tuesday September 6, 2005 -- 2:45:30 pm
fyi, the Frightscape doesn't work



FROM: Hal Rappaport [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday September 21, 2005 -- 12:31:15 pm
Hi All,

I am the author of the article in Haunted attractions magazine and also the creator of the Frightscape web site.

You can get to the article described by simply going to http://www.frightscape.com and clicking on the Brigantine castle banner.

I spent a year or so researching. Talking to the folks who worked there and collecting all sorts of media (video, audio and pics) from the castle.

If you'd like to email me, I'd be happy to answer any questions.

Thanks,

Hal Rappaport
http://www.frightscape.com



FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday September 21, 2005 -- 2:59:57 pm
Thanks for stopping by, Hal, and thanks for the great resource!

(I fixed the Frightscape link, BTW.)



FROM: Anthony
DATE: Monday October 10, 2005 -- 1:35:51 am
My name is Anthony and I am very big fan of Brigantine Castle. When I was around 7-9, I had the privilege of going through the greatest Haunted House Attraction of all time Brigantine Castle. Still today I have not came across anything like Brigantine Castle. I am always in search of new pictures and I would love to see any video on the castle. I saw Frightscape web site and also Dark in the Park and what a great flash back it gave me. If you have any other Pictures or video that is not on these sites please e-mail them to me. I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks Again.

Anthony



FROM: E.C.
DATE: Wednesday December 14, 2005 -- 3:05:05 pm
Does anyone know where I would be able to find a picture of the Brigantine Castle to purchase?



FROM: Robert
DATE: Thursday January 5, 2006 -- 3:25:54 am
Hi, I grew up going to Dorney Park and riding their dark rides, all gone - artile about them at www.laffinthedark.com (now they have haunted houses during Halloweekends in October only) as well as Wildwood, NJ during the early 80's -they had the most dark rides then. I miss Castle Dracula. I was in it several times several years ago and it burned down in 2002 due to arson. I saw it for the first time around 1980, I was 6 then but didn't go in. I also miss Hunt's Pier. William "Bud" Hunt (died 1991) the son of the founder of Hunt's Pier William C. Hunt (died 1970) sold the pier after 1985, and alot of the older rides were torn down in 1989. I rode most of the lost rides in the early 80's including the Golden Nugget Mine Ride, and I rode the GN again in '96 and '98 when it was Dino Beach. Then, in 1999 the GN closed, and it's still closed. I hope the Morey's reopen it. Another thing is my father died in Mar. 1986 and he took us to Dorney Park and Wildwood in the "old days" and I'm glad to have the memories of my father riding the Golden Nugget at Hunt's Pier, Wildwood with us, or the Bucket O' Blood dark ride at Dorney Park that burned in Sept. 1983. I live 2 miles west of Dorney in the same house I grew up in, it dates back to the 1800's but was remodeled by the owners before us and us after our father passed. I live with my younger brother, born June 1978 (I was born Jan 1974) and our mother and her male friend that she met about 12 years ago. I've been on several other dark rides up and down the east coast from NY to Virginia. I would like to try the Niagara Falls, Canada haunted houses sometime. They have one called Castle Dracula, too as well as Frankenstein and Haunted House and others. Most open year-round. I'm worried about the new passport requirement for US citizens, though since we have never been outside of the US (my mom went to Niagara Falls and crossed over and Cancun, Mexico) so we never had passports. I hope Bush doesn't pass it. It's supposed to take effect 2008 for land travelers. Dumb 9/11 security.



FROM: Mike H.
DATE: Saturday February 4, 2006 -- 4:43:58 am
The Brigantine Castle was a favorite hang-out for me when I was a kid. Even though it was closed down, I was sad the day that it burned, when I was 17 years old. The years before the fire, I often rode my bike for a mile through the side streets of Brigantine with a pocket full of quarters to spend hours at the pier. I went through the Haunted House on many occasions and always came out scared. I was glad to find so much info on the internet today when I was reminiscing about the many times I had fun as a kid then a teenager on,under and around the pier.



FROM: Lisa E.
DATE: Sunday February 26, 2006 -- 4:21:15 pm
Boy - I am really going down memory lane here! I had no idea you guys were from my neck of the woods (Im from Philly).

I remember those commercials and how much I wanted to go so bad. But I had heard so many stories and being the big fraidy-cat I chickened out the few times I had the chance to go. The 'rat room' - I just couldnt find the nerve lol

Its one of those things that is so unique to growing up in SE PA and NJ... along with Dr. Shock who used to be on Channel 17 back in the day if I am remembering right - I think the Castle was advertised quite a bit during his shows - he hosted horror movies on Saturday afternoons - totally cheesey but I am smiling now thinking about it...



FROM: Paul Spatola
DATE: Tuesday May 16, 2006 -- 9:36:18 pm
I worked for 6 years at the Castle and if you thought it was fun to go through it, I'd say it was a million times better to work there. I still try to keep in touch with some of the remaining cast. You know if you would like to relive the comercials they can be found at darkinthepark. com, they are rare treasures. I provided several of the pictures for the sites and think fondly of my home away from home often. Moreso recently as I've been having some rather odd dreams about the place. If anyone has any question reguarding the Brigantine Castle or Castle Dracula feel free to email me.



FROM: Robert
DATE: Saturday June 3, 2006 -- 4:30:44 am
I wish something like this would come back, but it's highly unlikely due to our litigious society and the strict fire laws due to the Six Flags GA Haunted Castle fire in May 11, 1984. That event caused many of the old attractions in the state to close in the first place. And the land values are rising all along the shore, usually for condominiums like Wildwood where old 50's motels are being bulldozed for huge expensive condos. So, it wouldn't be "valuable" to build a giant haunted castle attraction anywhere, it would be more "valuable" to build condos because property values would rise, as well as taxes, etc. The 70's were a different era, and the 80's, too. Simpler times. People today want to live by the water and don't want distracting attractions. If a new castle were to be built in Brigantine or AC, there would probably be opposition. Even Nickels brothers in Wildwood won't rebuild Castle Dracula because of complications that exist presently. So, no new walk-through, live actor haunted attractions for the NJ shore at least. There were a few new ones built elsewhwere, such as Orlando Florida (Skull Kingdom Castle), and a few Ripley's Haunted Adventures in Myrtle Beach, Gatlinburg, TN, and Texas. Why not NJ? About the only one in the entire state (walk-through with live actors) is the Haunted Manor in Seaside on the Funtown Pier.



FROM: Sean Engesser [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday July 6, 2006 -- 2:26:38 am
Many people might describe me as strange, a bit off, mabey even macabre, however when one considers that i grew up in the Brigantine Castle a lot about me becomes much easier to understand. Now when i say that i grew up there i don't just mean that i spent a lot of time there, I mean that my father was the manager and we lived two blocks away until it closed when i was 4 and burned down a year later blowing it's entire stored stockpile of unused fireworks in the process.



FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday July 6, 2006 -- 7:25:04 am
usually for condominiums like Wildwood where old 50's motels are being bulldozed for huge expensive condos.

Yup, it's sad... my grandfather helped build a lot of those same motels. The landscape of Wildwood isn't the same without the "doo wop" feel.



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