Castle of Chaos is celebrating their 20th anniversary, and I sat down with the owner James Bernard to find out more about what guests can expect from the haunt this year:
Q: Hi, James, first off, I want to say congratulations on twenty years in business!
Q: Could you tell me a little bit about how Castle got started?
Ya sure. I was in my senior year of college, and I had to write a 30-page business plan for my entrepreneurial class. I was really busy at the time, I was in the army reserves and had family responsibilities, so I didn’t want to spend a bunch of time on just a theoretical project. If I was going to write a 30-page business plan, I wanted it to be for a real business that I could run. I always loved business and theater, and I was inspired by a talk I heard by Clayton Holbrook, who owned a haunted house here called Alien Encounters. I thought it sounded like the type of business that could be profitable, and that I would enjoy running.
Q: Wow, that’s awesome! So what do you have planned for your guests this year in honor of your 20th anniversary?
Well, we are calling it “20 Years, 20 Fears,” because we are bringing back the favorite rooms from the past 20 years. It’s hard for me to say too much more about that because these aren’t rooms based on movies. We have Freddy and Jason and, you know, the “basics,” but we’ve never just stopped at that. We always have unique rooms that are designed to make people scream. That’s what we are really good at here is getting constant screams. We have five times more screams than any other haunt in the area. So the rooms we are bringing back are the rooms that have caused the most screams over the years.
Q: That sounds like a lot of fun. So with hitting this 20-year milestone, are there any staples of the experience that you want to keep and not change too much going forward?
No! We love to change things up. That’s what keeps things scary is for people never to know what’s coming around the corner. Uncertainty is a really powerful source of fear.
Q: You’ve already touched a little on this with your number of screams, but what would you say makes Castle of Chaos different from other haunts?
Well, like I was saying, it’s all about change. We don’t have actors who just jump out on cue; we train our actors in improv and in reading the customer so that the experience is spontaneous and unpredictable. When guests come through, our actors are profiling them: how old are they? What sort of look is on their face or in their eye? And then our actors behave accordingly to get the most screams from people. We look for actors who are both talented and experienced. Our crew has stuck together for years.
Q: It sounds like you guys go above and beyond. Is there anything else you’d like your guests to know about your anniversary events this year?
We have an outdoor “freak show” this year, right outside the haunt. The two questions we get the most from people are “Do you have clowns?” and “Do you have chain saws?” so we are going to have clowns with chainsaws.
Wow! “Clowns with chainsaws,” I think that about says it all. This year at Castle is going to be a blast, and COVID won’t stop the fun. James and his crew have taken every precaution to make the haunt safe for all. So get out of the house and get your scream on!