Those who crave good old spooks and fun should look no further than Oklahoma’s very own castle. The Castle of Muskogee has offered scares, thrills and chills for over 20 years. From fun to scary, there is something for every age and loads for families to do for hours, making it a must-visit at this spook-tastic time of year. Inside the Castle you’ll find two major houses, and every year they are switched out for layout and variety. If you’re wondering whether a specific spot or event is appropriate for your child, the Castle makes it easy for you. All the haunts have an age range attached, from the all-ages, non-scary Halloweenland to the age 13 and above Trail of Blood that proclaims “not for the faint of heart.” For those coming for the haunts, you can purchase individual tickets to each one or spring for the Fright Packages.
Fall is finally upon us, and with that comes many great festivities, including the Halloween Festival at the Castle of Muskogee. Gather up your family and friends and take a day trip to get your spook on. From 11 different haunt options to shows and great foods, the Halloween Festival has it all.
A grand event center, The Castle of Muskogee hosts not only large quarterly events (Renaissance Festival, Castle Christmas, firework sale and a zombie run), but has added many other festivals throughout the year per popular demand. The Halloween Festival, which runs from Sept. 28-Oct. 28 on Fridays and Saturdays, brings in thousands annually from Green Country.
Set on 60 acres of woods, the Castle uses 14 of them as the village section of the festival, and the rest is utilized for haunts.
Admission to the Castle and parking is free, and although not required, people almost always dress up in costume. Actors and actresses are always dressed in character to meet you at the entrance gate. They do an organized dance to set off the evening and to get you into the festival mood. Then, you can take a tractor ride on a trail to experience whatever haunt you pick, all of which reside in the surrounding woods.
Attractions range from family friendly (a torture chamber that displays justice apparatuses from a darker age), to not recommended for small children (haunted hayride and maze), to consider yourself warned (Domus Horrificus and Trail of Blood). Prices range from $3 to $15 per attraction. Combo packs are available for $15 (child’s five-event fun pack), $25 (adult five-event fun pack) and $30 ( four-fright event combo). Advance tickets may be purchased online.
However, for those who may not quite want to spend the entire evening in fright, there is much more to do at the festival. Many performers are ready to entertain on the chessboard stage, located in the village. Performers include the Jester Rejects, the Topsy Turvy acrobats, and a hypnotist, David Smith. Thirty different shops invite you to explore for any of your Halloween shopping needs as well as other local shops to enjoy.
The Festival provides food vendors, three different pubs to enjoy, as well as the Pecan Creek Winery and the Diamond Head winery to appropriately serve mead. Pizza and pretzels and other fair-like foods are always popular, but you can also find some things a little outside of that range, including shrimp, fish and chips and even quail bowls at the Paupers Eatery.
“You’ve got to have a turkey leg if you come out to the Castle. It’s a staple,” says Sarah Gile, a longtime employee.
You can also enjoy great holiday cocktails at Elvira’s Rack located at the Trail of Blood, which most people agree is the scariest haunt. It’s a good place to decompress after you make it out of the maze.
Although a few attractions may be too scary for little ones, the entire festival is considered kid friendly.
“I’ve been going to the Halloween Festival since childhood, and it used to be much scarier, but now it is much more family friendly and a place for everyone,” Gile says.
There are pony rides, face paintings, a bonfire for stories, and many other fun and family friendly things to do, including Halloween Land for children 8 years old and younger.
One of the festival’s goals this year is to reduce the amount of waiting time in the lines for the various activities. This year, you can use a smartphone to check in for attractions. When it is your turn, you will receive a text to head to the attraction. Organizers are hoping that this enhancement will help give people a better experience overall.
There has also been a push this year to get the community of Muskogee more involved. Many people and businesses have done just that. There are many hotels around the Castle that will provide a discount to those in town for the festival.
The Castle hires many actors for their festivals. The actors attend an academy to help them learn how to create their characters, which according to Gile, “is really good for young actors to get involved with acting.” The actors can all pick haunts or other events to be a part of and then learn how to develop their character and their costume.
“Everyone who works there is super creative,” she says. “It’s such a fun place to work, and there are so many fun and funny things to do and to watch. It’s a great venue for people watching, and it has fun characters out there for every event.”
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