Dark Castle Haunted Attraction – Full Review

Dark Castle Haunted Attraction is a Haunted Attraction located in Elgin, SC.

2076 Hwy Church Road, Elgin, SC 29045
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Haunt Type(s):

Multiple Haunts1EscapeRoom1HauntedTrail


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Free Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Food/Concessions, Optional Games/Midway, Movie Characters, Original Characters, Uncovered Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction

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This attraction was reviewed on October 2, 2021 by Team Jefferson Starship.

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Final Score: 8.76

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Dark Castle is a wondrous and terrifying story that starts in a rather unique full-service funeral home and ends in an extradimensional forest with screaming and running for your life. Every year, the monsters at Dark Castle work harder and harder to create a unique experience that cannot be had anywhere else in the world. The story isn’t the only unique thing, as the team here hand-made costumes, props, and scenes in the interest of being the only haunted house of its kind. Monsters here are passionate, hard-working, and universally in love with the stories they help to craft and create. The work is noticeable, and it makes this an experience that our team loves to have year after year because it’s never the same. If you’re looking for a mixture of horror and wildly inappropriate humor that will have you laughing and screaming from moment to moment, then this is the place for you.

Cast: 8.94

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There are very few casts in the haunting industry that work harder than the monsters at Dark Castle. You never wonder at any point if anyone working here is totally in love with Halloween and all things scary. Monsters’ personalities are all over the place in this horror show, from the wry humor of your military trainer for the zombie shoot to the lascivious sass of the red-robed witch to the dry humor of Maxi your trail guide there is a little bit of everything for everyone. At the start the witty roasting that comes from monsters and guides to each other and the guests is hilarious, and then when the threat of roasting becomes literal everything changes. Monsters are carefully placed to fully utilize the haunt’s three different phases. Also crafted in person this year was an entire actor, who raised our opinions of his scene sky-high. The butcher’s German was extra threatening, Gretel was a sensory delight, and all of the finale monsters put the highest level of scare energy possible in despite us coming through at the very end of their long night.

Costuming: 8.81

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Just like every other detail of the Dark Castle experience, costumes are unique and matched perfectly to the tone of the creature wearing them and the scene they are in. The hand-made details on Pennywise and Frankenstein caused our group to be a problem since we had to stop and gawk. The finale’s incredibly large and in-charge monster is a brilliant combination of things to create a creature that is utterly inhuman in size and scope. Costume masks are not the norm in Dark Castle, the majority of creatures have their own bespoke makeup, but where masks are used they are well-fitted and properly worn. Headpieces, prosthetic pieces, and camouflaging clothing are also utilized effectively to create truly terrifying sights.

Customer Service: 9.25

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Dark Castle has high production with a family haunt feel to it. Our team has been going here since before we started reviewing, and since our first visit the team here are considerate of guests, passionate about everyone having an excellent visit, and careful with guest safety. Monsters and t-shirt wearing staff members alike are more than happy to answer questions, help with concerns, and discuss any questions, compliments, or concerns. Signs for the building as well as the fa������ade are clearly visible from the road and the parking lot is well lit and easy to navigate. Safety precautions for Covid are in place and effectively utilized to minimize the impact on guests’ experiences while protecting their safety ‘ masks are required and hand sanitizer is plentiful. The website is organized and has all of the relevant information from pricing to hours easily accessible.

Atmosphere: 8.18

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The front fa������ade of the Dark Castle haunt is a beautifully created and intensely personal piece of spooky art, which is true for the rest of the haunt as well. From the imposing gate by the ticket booth to the beautifully detailed River Styx scene on the other side of the entrance there is no shortage of things to look at that will inspire you to wonder and fear. Queue workers and characters make the rounds through lines and other spaces to keep guests entertained and frightened as they wait to enter the next phase of the haunt. All three settings, the house, zombie shoot, and walking trail, have their own personal openings with strong thematic tones and visual cues. The darkness of the woods leading into the zombie hunt, the beautiful mixture of color and shadow at the trailhead, and the yawning entry portal to the house all have their own story and particular scare factor.

Special Effects: 8.55

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There are a number of special effects throughout the three parts of the Dark Castle. Home-built props range from gears used for grinding large cuts of meat to walls creeping and crawling directly in front of you. Drop panels are not as common as drop walls, surprise moving set pieces, and electronic animal terrors that dart and sway and skitter to you. Special effects are not super heavy in any one particular scene as the haunt is driven more by the creatures, but every scene has at least one trick that makes you ask how they did and if they’ll do it again. A lot of the special effects within the house are truly massive, leading guests through rooms and then scaring them back again towards the room they came from. A little trip through Hell, the Frankenstein lab, and the finale all stand out on this front.

Theme: N/A

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There is not a single theme for the whole of the Dark Castle attraction. However, the interior haunted house is definitely geared towards more traditional horror movie monsters this year, while the trail includes a little bit of everything from fairy tales to modern pop horror icons. The zombie zone, of course, is geared towards zombies with a dash of technology.

Scare Factor: 8.55

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Our team was lucky enough to be put together with another little group who are far less cynical than we are. We planned to use them as a benchmark for how scary the Dark Castle really was. We ended up not needing that, as our entire time in line for the house and the shoot was soundtracked by the screams of patrons fleeing from one of the three phases of the haunt. By the time we reached the walking trail, all the other guests had run and it was just our little group. Here we got to watch as members of our stone-faced team jumped, shrieked, and laughed our way through to the finale. Dark Castle is very much a haunt that has a higher emphasis on entertaining, spooky story-telling than on being an all-out terrifying experience, and they excel at this every year.

Entertainment & Value: 9.15

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For $22 you get access to all three stages of the Dark Castle haunt. For $58 you get to skip all the lines, get included snacks, a Dark Castle collectible, and a seat in the RIP room where you can press buttons to scare the heck out of the other guests using the haunt’s special effects. The collectible is certainly nice, but having the joy of scaring strangers while sipping cool water and sitting on a comfy couch is truly priceless. The RIP package also grants a custom-made Dark Castle washable face mask.

The price for general admission, $22, is reduced this year because of the pandemic. The indoor portion of the zombie hunt has been cut from the attraction and accordingly the price has dropped. Too, this year, guides take guests between each of the three attractions instead of leaving it up to the guests to wander around. Purchasing tickets online includes the option to book an entire block of time just for a small group (up to 8 people) for an even bigger discount.

If you’re not going to make it during spooky season for some reason, or you realize after October that you desperately want to experience again the unique Dark Castle experience, they have year-round events including online and in-person escape rooms, a break room, a live Among Us style game, zombie laser tag and capture the flag, and holiday-themed events.

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Guest Reviews
Guest Average: 10 out of 10

Brittany – 10/10October 15, 2022
So much fun! We took my little sister (11). She was so scared she wouldn’t let go of me. Most of …show more their adult humor went right over her head. It was a lot of fun and so different from any haunt we’ve been to. The ticket ladies were super nice as well!

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Past Awards

2022 Awards

Best Recreation of a Movie Scene - Candyman (Given by: Team Jefferson Starship)

Socko - Matthew Wright (Given by: Team Jefferson Starship)

2019 Awards

Best Zombies (Given by: Team Jefferson Starship)

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