Germany’s Europa-Park is home to the most amount of dark rides in a single park on its continent, with a grand total of 8. The oldest of the bunch is Geisterschloss (Ghost Castle) that opened in 1982 and is found in the Italian section. The park had hinted at wanting to refurbish it before and has now announced that the almost 42 year old ride will receive ”a complete renovation” during the coming months. The reopening is planned for the summer of 2024.
As a result of the fire that destroyed the Zauberwelt der Diamanten last June, Europa-Park has made an effort to improve the fire safety throughout the park. It seems that Geisterschloss in particular needed a lot of attention in that regard, thus the choice to renovate it was made, or rather, pushed forward. In an interview with German newspaper Badische Neueste Nachrichten from December, Europa-Park founder Roland Mack explains: ”We want to make another massive upgrade in the area of the ghost train to further limit the risks [of fire breaking out]. This is an initiative that comes from us.”
While at that point, it was not known how extensive this upgrade was going to be, visitors of the ride may have noticed staff members patrolling in the queue area as well as inside the scenes, allegedly to check for potential fires. The days leading up to the park entering its off-season, red stickers with numbers on them were spotted on various set pieces and animatronic characters, hinting at their removal. The park and Geisterschloss along with it were last open on 7 January 2023.
As rumours started to spread, a curious fan asked the park on Facebook what will be happening inside the ghost train. Europa-Park responded with: ”The famous Geisterschloss in the Italian Quarter is currently undergoing a complete renovation. The scenes will be renovated and the existing animatronics will be overhauled. The reopening is scheduled for summer 2024.” If the changes are of a purely safety precaution and technical nature, or if the ride will receive a new story and decor too, is currently unknown.
Geisterschloss has a rich history when it comes to refurbishments. When the ride opened in 1982, it was known primarily as Castello Leone and had a distinctly more sombre atmosphere. The first major changes took place in 1996, when the upper floor was redesigned, the attic of the castle making way for a row of haunted shops and a graveyard. Starting from 2005, the creep-factor was gradually reduced, with the singing busts gag and later characters of IPs like Happy Family being added. The Omnimover system was supplied by Mack Rides and most of the theming was created by Heimotion.