Dark In The Park




Brigantine Castle Online

Emails 2004

If you would like your memory of the castle posted on our page, please email it to us at webmaster@darkinthepark.com



Michele O'Brien (Davis)


Hi, My name is Michele O'Brien (Davis) I was hired at the Brigantine Castle by Richard McMann in 1979 at age 17 mostly for my abilities to be able to squeeze my rear end into the "Headless Woman" illusion. THAT was a major contraption! You had to be "locked" in! Since I was under age and the illusion was majorly uncomfortable I worked an hour in the chair and an hour out of the chair. The illusion so so awesome though, that I enjoyed the character. We were able to mostly use our own acting skills as long as we followed a minor story line. It was spectacular, people were truly amazed and depending who you were working with at the time there could be a small variation of the the story line and it could be different everyday. Sometimes there were 2 girls working the chair in one day, or people were re-routed directly to "The butcher" mostly played by Dave Gerino (sp) and I was able to play other parts as well. I had a grand time in the Rippie/Ripper scene getting my head removed from my body. I played Swamp Ghoul which in itself was an extreme illusion but a very confining area. Sometimes there was no one to play the part of swamp ghoul and the illusion went unused...but man...if you knew how to capture peoples attention, it was very effective! I was also able to be creative and come up with my own characters in the "Tilt Room". My favorite was "Crazy Mary", who was a variation of Lizzie Bordan. It was sweet to bang the cleaver on the wall (which was not recommended) and watch the people try and slither away in a tilted room all stumbling over each other to get out because the floor was so uneven. Some of the seasoned actors were allowed to roam, which was a huge deal in my eyes! One day Richard said I could roam and be whatever I wanted. I became the RAT on the "Bell Tower" stairs. It was terrific! I scared a lot of people but got knocked in the jaw a lot by peoples knees! By the end of the night, I remember singing "RATS the way uh huh uh huh , I like it" with another actor. There were tons of creative people! Some people wrote songs, some people changed words to songs around. My all time favorite was called "Richard McMann". Being 41 years old today, I don't remember the words but found myself singing it at the top of my lungs 4 years ago when I had the pleasure of working with Richard McMann again at another haunted event. I was sitting at a meeting table and in he walked. My jaw dropped to the floor! I interrupted the whole meeting and said excuse me, was that Richard McMann??? I didn't give them time to answer and sped off like a bat out of hell just to hug the hell out of him. I worked with him the whole month of October, on weekends. He had the first scene. I then had my own graveyard scene which was down the hallway a bit. Everytime I went by him I broke out in "Hey Richard McMann, we are your fans, Richard McMann" He would always smile. Being so young and working there I absorbed everything! I watched Mike Spatola and Sandi Bagalini (sp) like a hawk. I learned make up secrets that I later used in haunted events I did around the communities I lived in and they were always spectacular! I am and always will be a liquid latex freak, even tho, now you can by press on everything. I like doing it myself! A little toilet paper and some liquid latex and blood...the perfect recipe for a gaping slit throat! I would mimmic some of the great actors (in my mind) and always used them for future events. Some of the people I remember? Geez! I worked there 2 summers, 1979 and 1980. Richard McMann, Bobby Bundance and Seth Wenig were the portrait room "DRACULAS" I remember most. The Jesters... Bobby Bundance and a great mime I think his last name was Riccio, he was totally spectacular! In the "Pustulitus Room" I worked with Karen Black, Maryann Reynolds and Beth Whitecross. They always had kickin' story lines! Jules was the one cutting my head off as the ripper and I really only remember working with Michael Flemming in the "headless chair". Dave Gerino was the goriest butcher! Unfortunately a lot of other names escape me. I remember RAY always in the coffin! One time I had a argument with the guy who played the gorilla.(CHRIS?) I said the headless chair was way worse then the gorilla suit. HOLY CHRIST was I wrong! I wore the gorilla suit that day...he got in the headless chair, That gorilla suit can dehydrate a person in less then 1/2 hour! Was a fun lesson to learn tho... I was a gorilla! It was hot in that castle! What kept me going was the MUSIC! I LOVE that damn toccata! It's on my answering machine EVERY HALLOWEEN! To sum up my story..The Brigantine Castle was the best job I ever had in my lifetime. I have done a Halloween event every year in the communities I have lived in since working there and have been labeled a "natural" in newspapers spanning from NYC to Hammonton N.J. I learned alot of amazing things in those 2 years. My make up skills are old but effective and I get along with EVERYONE I work with. I guess that's what you come out of there with especially when your a kid and absorb the positive and negative surroundings! All I know is I NEED...not WANT a house to HAUNT EVERY SINGLE HALLOWEEN! Hugs and kisses to those I didn't remember......It was ONE HELL OF A FELLOWSHIP! OH ERIC! I can't forget ERIC! You KNOW I have a house to HAUNT this year! Whooooo Hoooooo! 


Great site...glad I found it. I have a story to relay:

I'm 31 now, so sometime in the very early 80s when I was about 8, my parents brought me to Brigantine Castle from our summer home at Long Beach Island. After begging them all summer to take me, I found myself too afraid to go in. But we already had tickets. My Mom (who is a self-proclaimed wimp) told me not to worry, and to prove it, she said she'd go through first.

About a minute after she went in, I decided I was ready. So I suppose she was a group or two ahead of me. My Dad and I entered....

It's very vague, but I think I remember a glass floor with some monster under it. I also remember the rat room, with tails everywhere. I think I remember "squeaking" sounds. I recall grabbing one of the tails, and it feeling like it was covered in felt. But I've since read they were hoses...

When we exited the castle, we met up with my Mom. She excitedly asked if we had seen the "bloody guy"...she said that her group found it amazingly realistic. But my Dad and I did not recall seeing it. We thought that maybe we had taken a different path. By now, we were all back outside the castle exit.

Minutes later, we noticed an ambulance. Then, we saw what I assume was an actor, limping out, sort of dragging his bad leg behind him. My memories are sketchy, but I think he was shirtless, and the pants were cut off and frayed just below the knee (probably part of the show, not the injury). I remember the leg he was dragging being quite bloody, and even blood trailing behind him. But he was "walking" on his own. I recall that he had curly dark hair, and I think he jumped into the ambulance, and they drove off.

My Mom said she saw that very actor fall or jump though some sort glass window or other prop...but her group believed the scene to be part of the show. I guess it wasn't.

The story has come up a few times since then, when we're all back together during the summer. We all recall the story about the same...

Again, great work on the site. It's resources like it that make the Internet great!



wow....I was just checking to see what ever happened to Brigantine Castle and here I found out. I didn't know it burned down but thanks to your site I found out. The reason I was checking for The Castle is because my children are now at the age I was when I went for my first time. Wow....what a blast. I am now 38 and I was probably about 12 at the time. What great memories. Great enough to be sitting here at 2:50 am and on a whim look it up. Thank you for your site. I enjoyed. 
"Chop Chop"


I happened upon your site when my husband, who's family owned a home in Brigantine and spent every summer there, sent me your web address. I visited the castle around 1978 with my parents and older sister. It was very exciting to see the castle looming in the distance as we drove towards it. I remember Brigantine looking very different than it does now, the road ran along the beach and you could see the ocean crashing against the shore. After parking the car and heading up to the castle and pier, we discussed whether or not we would even go in. It was very cool. I remember the "creature" at the ticket booth wouldn't even speak, she glared at you. We finally agreed to ALL go in together. It was an experience unlike anything you can see today. I remember walking up the first flight of stairs and being starled by someone jumping out from behind us. My mother was so scared, she hit him over the head with her purse. There were endless rooms in which you entered, with incredible displays designed to "creep you out". And within each cleverly thought out room, you carefully walked through it knowing that some of the "people" in there were real and ready to get you. I also remember the doorway to exit if you were too "chicken" to continue. I don't recall how long it took to go through, but we finally got to the top of the castle. We stood outside with another "ghoul" telling us we had two choices for getting back down - we could jump over the side of the castle or continue inside. I think my sister wanted to jump and end it all at that point but instead, we entered into yet another room. This one was dark and we could hear rats squealing and feel "things" against our feet. The final journey inside the castle was a winding stairwell down. I remember you had to hug the outer wall because the stairs wound around "cages" where creatures stood inside trying to grab you. When we finally made it out to the bottom, our hearts were racing. It was fun and exciting and scary... and no "spook house" of today can ever compare to it!
3/28/04 Thanks for the memories. We went to the castle many years ago taking our 5 yr old grandson with us, he acted very brave, saying "don't be scared grand mom." I put my arm around him and I could feel his little heart thumping. he is 38years old today and he often talks about when will they rebuild the castle,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,when will you rebuild the castle??? I now have a great grandson 8 years old, i'm sure he would love to see it!!
Edwin Nelson


My name is Edwin Nelson and I had the honor of being a member of the Brigantine Castle cast the last three seasons it was open, long after its heyday but an amazing time nonetheless. I have also participated in almost all of the reunion projects since then. I am now pushing 40 and I have yet to be employed in any job that gave me both the joy and pain that I experienced as a "monster." I refer to myself as such, because I don't consider myself an actor and never have, not in the sense of the word with which most people associate. Don't get me wrong, though. There have been many people at the Castle, most of whom I have never met and have only heard spoken of in terms of reverence, who were consummate actors in the truest sense. The fact that so many people out there remember the Castle and its impact on them is a testament to the people who were lucky enough to be a part of it in one form or another. They came to work each day, put on their characters as one might a favorite pair of shoes, well worn and comfortable, and proceeded to give unprecedented amounts of blood, sweat, and tears in the pursuit of their craft. One name that comes to mind is a lady that, at first glance, might remind you of your grandmother. Veda Naylor, as the legend has it, was waiting on the sands of the Brigantine Beach when the work crews arrived and stated, "There's going to be a haunted house built here and I'm going to work in it." Me, I just liked to startle the stuffing out of people. By the end of the last season I had gotten up the courage to attempt the speaking roles like "Portrait", or "Rat Professor", but my strength was in the simple shock scare and I reveled in it. It is heartwarming and yet heartbreaking at the same time to let the mind wander back to those days, for as good as those memories are they cannot help but remind us of the people we have lost along the way, some to illness, some to accident. Jay, Shelby, and Big George are only a few of the names I know. I don't doubt in the least that the list is much longer. Many of the former cast members have pursued careers in the entertainment field, and others have taken different paths. (In response to a previous post, Mike Spatola, former actor/make-up artist/manager, has his name in the credits of a few movies for special effects make-up, most notably "House", "Predator 2", and "Return of the Living Dead, Part 2".) I am relatively certain of one thing, though. No matter where these people are today and no matter what they are doing to pay their bills, all of them have been transformed in some way by their experiences and associations with the Castle, just as you, the customers and former residents have. Thank you, and all the people working the websites, for helping to keep the memory alive. 


Where has all the magic gone?? I spent my childhood growing up in Brigantine and its beaches and remember it as a Fishing pier, long before the Castle was built. I also remember When Carmen Ricci decided to bring and and build this wondrous Entertainment complex to the once desolate end of the City of Brigantine. The advertisements promising an experience like no other was coming and the day it opened oh how crowed it was....It seemed like everyone from Brigantine, Atlantic City and surroundings came to see what the fuss was all about. And what a site it was... A huge ominous castle rising up in to the skyline of Brigantine. At the top of the castle there was a figure in black pointing down at all the souls that would undertake the journey in to the castles darkness. Once you crossed the threshold at top of the entrance a Pizza shop faced you but the immediate thing that hit your senses was the sounds of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor coming from inside the castle... then it was smells and the sea air blending together....it gave one a sense of foreboding.. As you tuned right on to the midway to your immediate right Was the Castle entrance and what an incredible entrance it was . Gothic down to its core. With its huge cob-webbed chandeliers to a magic mirror- for a quarter it would reveal your fortune. To the back a huge staircase going up in to its bowels....people were seen running up those steps....was there some one or something lurking about???? Only one way to find out.. Chills ran up and down your spine as you approached the payment cage.. You wondered what would be next -you then paid your money then you heard a loud bang!! and the journey was ready to begin as you crossed in to the mouth of the castle.. And what followed was simply amazing and/or frightening (depending on ones disposition). The talent and imagination that went in to this creation was staggering and I have never seen any thing like it since. From the Masters Portrait Room, the execution (beheading by guillotine) room. The headless woman...the rat room.. to the meat market with the psycho music blaring , the bell tower and deep dark woods... it was a unforgettable 45 minute journey in to the imagination. And what a journey it was.. and every year they made it even better...with new scenes of horror.. Do I remember it well. The first time I went thru it scared the hell out of me but it was so wonderful it definitely one of the best memories I have As as I became a teenager it made sense to land a job at the pier. I worked in the midway games section from 1980 until 1984 being hired by a manager I believe his name was Ted. I did it all in that area -from the water race game, the music wheel, dart game, even the ring the bottles right next to the castle (I do have some fond memories of the Actors coming out the entrance and stealing the prizes back in to the castle-just to drive me nuts!! right Seth?? it has been many a year and many names have been forgotten) I do remember a few like Mac, Joey and his sister Sherry, Dave ,Gary now my memories fade a little. We as a group working the games had an awesome time meeting the ladies and getting Paid for it.. You just couldn’t beat it with a stick. Even on our days off wed still be up there with our dates or trying to pick one up...What a blast. I had a lot of fun with that group.. Then even the gamers got in to the act with makeup when the pier decided to have Madi-Gras nites with every one in make up (thanks to the very talented Castle make up artists) and prizes were given out to the customers who showed up with the best costume on....and you should have seen the outfits and the turn out...I believe that sadly that was the beginning of the end...A year or two after that it was all over....and then the tragedy....the fire...all the fun and memories up in smoke...And now ints place..nothing...except for a sea-wall and mini boardwalk... As one stands on the beach in that area you could just see ,hear and smell it all over again- the ghosts are still there and what wonderful memories they do conjure... It is just so sad that nothing like this exists today....even with all the high tech hyper thrill rides...computer generated 3-d renderings...NOTHING can compare to the true magic of real people and real talent trying to scare girls into their dates arms or just giving people a real fun time on those hot summer nights.....And I wouldn’t mind reliving any of those fun times..if you were where and worked the midway or castle and remember any of this id love to hear from you just drop me a line at DJHEWARD@MSN.COM it has been a blast....Jeff






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