Location: 59 Wharf Street, Salem, MA (Directions)
Dates/Times: October 1-31, 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm (Dates/Times subject to change as years go by)
Admission: $8 per adult, $6 per child under age 12.
Phone: (978) 745-5888
Dracula’s Castle was first haunted attraction I went through when visiting Salem in the late 90’s. With that in mind, my rating for this haunted house only applies to my original visit, as I as sadly unable to visit it this year. The haunt has changed since then, so please use my old visit to gauge whether or not you should check it out.
Unlike at some haunted houses, the monsters at Dracula’s Castle don’t simply jump out of dark corners and yell “Boo!” Instead, they’ll charge at you, block your path, and some of them relentlessly pursue you throughout the haunt. Although I’ve heard horror stories of haunts where you’d catch the “monsters” in obvious hiding spots or having conversations with their masks off, that was not the case at here. The employees all stayed in character and were always prepared.
Dracula’s Castle also goes the extra mile by utilizing other types of scare tactics, such as misdirection and psychological-based scares. Although I enjoyed the ones involving misdirection (my favorite use of this involved spikes), I wasn’t impressed by the attempt at a psychological scare by having disembodied voices call out your name. This effect was hampered by the fact that you’d be asked your name immediately before the voices began, making the whole thing quite obvious (and resulted in my deducting half a skull from the rating). In my opinion, it would have been better if they had tried to get peoples’ names in a less obvious manner, like having the ticket seller secretly gather the names and send them to the “monsters” shortly after customers enter the castle. However, I’ve been assured that this is no longer done at Dracula’s Castle, which means my sole complaint about my 90’s visit would not apply to the attraction this year.
The props and set design were all very well-done; I was particularly impressed by the detail in the graveyard scene. There were some rather interesting touches in the layout of the haunt, such as placing a levitating vampiress in a spot that your eyes are drawn to or having to duck under sections of a cave. These, and the different types of scares, all combine to form a unique experience. Speaking of unique experiences, Dracula’s Castle changes its setup and scares ever year.
Interestingly enough, I learned that Dracula’s Castle was briefly renamed the Nightmare Factory a few years ago. Now it’s back to its original name and the owner has opened another haunt using the Nightmare Factory name. I mention this because both attractions (along with two other attractions) are part of the “Witch City Adventure Pass” program, in which you can buy a ticket ($24 for adult or $16 for a child under age 12) that grants you access to Dracula’s Castle, The Nightmare Factory, Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, and The Witches Cottage. That roughly breaks down to paying the standard admission price for three attractions and visiting the fourth for free. For more information about obtaining the pass, please call any of the previously named attractions or ask the ticket-sellers for more information.
Final verdict: 4.5 skulls out of 5
UPDATE: I’ve received unconfirmed reports that Dracula’s Castle is now closed permanently. The Nightmare Factory is also gone (at least for the time being). Please keep that in mind when you visit Salem (and let me know whether or no this is true).
Special thanks to Dracula’s Castle for allowing use of the picture.