Friday, May 11, 1984 would go down as the most tragic day in Six Flags history. At approximately 6:30 p.m., a fire started in one of the 17 trailers. A witness later testified that a patron was using a cigarette lighter to see through the attraction because many of the lights were burned out. The witness stated that the lighter accidentally caught a foam wall on fire.
The fire spread quickly throughout the attraction because the castle contained many flammable materials and had no sprinkler system. The air conditioner system also helped to fan the fire and cause an intense heat which reached 2,000 degrees and sent flames 100 feet in the air.
One of the green headed monsters that guarded the entrance to the Haunted Castle.
At the time of the fire, there were approximately 22 patrons and 4 employees in the attraction. The employees and fourteen patrons were able to escape the fire, but eight patrons weren't so lucky. The victims, including seven males and one female, were all between the ages of 17 and 18. The bodies were all found in the same trailer burned beyond recognition.
The fire was declared under control at 7:41 p.m. The park remained open during the fire and many of the park's 15,000 patrons continued riding amusements and having a great time, unaware that lives had been lost in the fire. The park was eventually closed early at 8 p.m. Patrons were given free tickets to return to the park at another date.
Patrons would exit through the gaping mouth of this skull. This aspect of the ride reminded me of the Hunt's Pier Pirate Ship in Wildwood, NJ.
This fire marked the end for many dark rides across the country, and heightened safety codes for those that remained open. The company that built the attraction went out of business and most of its attractions, such as The Gates of Hell in Seaside Heights, were razed. The patron who caused the fire never came forward and was never found.
If you have any pictures of the Great Adventure Haunted Castle that you would like to add to this article, please email us at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you.
|A picture taken outside the castle in 1979. Samwise Aaron/Perlmutter is playing Woffie The Wolf Man and Eric Nielson is playing Frankie. This picture was provided by Samwise who worked at the castle opening day and all of the first (1979) and part of the 2nd(1980) seasons.|
The information and pictures for this article came from Amusement Park Journal Vol. 6, No. 2. If you would like more information about the fire, click here to read the magazine article.
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