“Castle Dracula” Remembered in Wildwood

From the Wildwood Historical Society

Hundreds of visitors, fans and former cast members passed through the Wildwood Historical Museum August 13 for a reunion and celebration of the legendary boardwalk dark ride Castle Dracula.

Castle Dracula was built in 1976 at Cedar Avenue on the pier once known as Nickel’s Midway Pier. It was a popular walk-through haunted attraction until it burned down in 2002 as a result of juvenile arson.

Mike Jasorka, right, with his illustrated Castle Dracula Employee handbook.

Author Mike Jasorka signed about 70 copies of his new Castle Dracula Employee Handbook: Illustrated, for which the event served also as a launch party. Angelo Nickels, founder of Nickel’s Midway Pier who built Castle Dracula, also signed autographs and recounted stories of the castle.

“This was one of the historical society’s biggest ever events,” said museum president Taylor Henry. “It goes to show how important Castle Dracula was to everyone, even youth who weren’t old enough to remember it.”

The entrance to “Castle Dracula,” where horrors await inside. Photo, and header, from the John Margolies Roadside America photograph archive.

Artist and dark ride enthusiast Michael Yannette provided a 20th Anniversary Castle Dracula backdrop and sold dark ride prints (now available in the museum gift shop.) Artist Keith Shepherd brought his artwork and a real griffin from the castle.

Collector Jim Pauley brought a link from the drawbridge chain. Nickels autographed both artifacts.

Emeritus board member Al Brannen brought a Dracula figure he purchased from the Shamrock Cafe liquidation sale and Wildwood Crest Historical Society President Kirk Hastings brought a replica of the yellow and red flags that adorned the castle.

After the book signing, attendees — many of whom were dressed in spooky costumes as castle cast members — took photos in front of the backdrop. Pauley recorded Nickels recount word-for-word his Count Dracula welcome speech, Transylvanian accent and all.

“It was unforgettable to witness Nickels’ face light up with joy while telling stories and meeting all his fans,” Henry said. “We are grateful to have helped bring everyone together for this one-time event.”