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Curse of DarKastle

A (dark) castle fit for a (dead) king

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Curse of DarKastle Busch Gardens picture

The ominous Curse of DarKastle ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Arthur Levine 2005. Licensed to About.com.
But you'll want to try and keep your eyes wide open to catch the wild fun. Curse uses many of the same features as the groundbreaking The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure. Is it as good? Not quite, but keep in mind that I consider Spider-Man to be the single best themed attraction anywhere.

Spidey does a better job melding its projected virtual imagery with the real environment. And its effects, particularly its freefall sequence, are crisper and more jaw-dropping. The Universal ride also has the distinct advantage of well-known characters with established appeal.

But Curse's story is easy to follow. Located in the park's Germany section, the ride is loosely based on King Ludwig II of Bavaria. According to the lore presented in the pre-show, centuries ago, the future king met a mysterious woman who transformed into a wolf and foretold Ludwig's fate as an evil monster. Faster than you could say, "Awoooo," terrible things began happening at the castle. King Ludwig's ghost haunts his castle still, we're forewarned...so step right this way and keep your arms and sniveling psyches inside the moving vehicles at all times.

The sleighs travel through a series of eleven chambers, including Ludwig's study, the kitchen, and a huge fireplace, where the monster who would be king unleashes all sorts of 3-D mayhem. The final scene--sorry, my lips are sealed--is especially impressive.

The pedigree of the ride's developers is quite impressive as well. Among the creative team are the wizards behind such attractions as Universal's Jimmy Neutron and Terminator 2: 3D. Brent Young of Super 78, the L.A. shop that created Curse's CGI animation, says that it took thirteen months to produce the ride's three minutes and twenty seconds of footage. Since 3-D attractions require two separate images (one for each eye), and Curse's scenes were so detailed, it was a race that pitted his computers' processing powers against time to render and manage the digital film's enormous amount of data.

Young says that after bringing Curse's creative team together about a month before the ride opened to merge everything, he was thrilled with the results. "It's even better than we imagined." And, he believes, the technology will continue to evolve. "This won't be the last ride of its kind." To which I say, " Awoooo!"

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