Our Philosophy

We at Dark Castle strive to scare, but we know that not everyone scares the same, so we will amaze, stupify, frighten, startle, disgust and possibly offend, but we will ALWAYS entertain!

Our Story

Scott Stepp as Paul Bearer.

October of 1999 was the inaugural year for the haunted house now known as Dark Castle. A small family run outdoor haunt started by Larry Oates and his family, and originally named The Dark Knights Terror Trail. Our little haunt ran for five years and made a bit of a name for itself with a spooky outdoor theme to the scenes that were able to be created in very little time. 2003 was our last year for quite a while as owner and operator Larry Oates had taken ill. So the entire family put the fun of the haunt on hold.  It wasn’t until 2012 that Larry’s family decided to start back up in honor of our now deceased owner and operator.  Starting back at an abandoned mall had its problems.  We were now running 3 trails with different themes… Indoor, Outdoor, and an Interactive Zombie Survival scenario (The first of its kind in South Carolina). We brought back a lot of our old volunteers from the original days, and recruited even more to make the haunt run smoothly. In 2013 we obtained land to run our 3 haunts on and today the Dark Castle boasts 3 haunts, 2 brisk break outs (five minute escape rooms) and a smash room to take out your stress and anger.  Come check out what lies beyond the castle gates!


We are a volunteer based haunt, which means our entire staff is working just because they love to see you twitch! These are some of our full time volunteers and artists that help to make your experience a pleasantly terrifying one.

Dark Castle’s 2023 Halloween Season Crew


Scott and Lori Stepp

Scott is also the Outdoor Trail Head Guide, offering his award-winning array of disturbing characters to the displease of his victims. Some of them are Maxi Mouse (picture), Paul Bearer, Flatulence the Ass Clown, Turd Ferguson and Uncle Creepy.

Lori Stepp is also our Head Costumer and Customer Care Representative.

Mitch Oates

Alongside his father, Larry Oates, Mitch Oates was the original founder of the Haunted Attraction now known as Dark Castle.

US Air Force Veteran and Amateur Paleontologist, Mitch now acts as a Creative Director, Weapons Advisor and Pyrotechnics Expert.

The Family Clans

As it happens in most castles, Dark Castle is ran by Family Clans, some of them have been here since the beginning, some of them are quite new. Here they are:

The Stepp Family

One of the original founding families and current haunt operators, the Stepp Family is composed by:

Scott Stepp: Owner, Operator, Founder, Outdoor Trail Head Guide.

Lori Stepp: Owner, Operator, Founder, Costumer, Customer Service Representative.

Andrew Stepp: The Game Master, the mind behind all games and puzzles. Indoor and Outdoor Actor.

Victoria Stepp: Outdoor Trail Guide as Mania and Violent, The Clown.

Brooke Ensign: Zombie Zone Leader as Chase Daniels and Zombie Wrangler.

Bellatrix LeStepp: Dog. Woof Woof.

Baron Stepp: Big dog. (Big) Woof (Big) Woof.

The Oates Family

The Oates family are also one of the original founding families of Dark Castle.

Mitch Oates: Founder, Creative Director, Weapons Advisor and Pyrotechnics Expert.

Joyce Oates: Indoor Head Guide as Sai-Ko and Scene Leader.

Sydney Oates: Indoor Actor and Scene Leader.

Riley Oates: Guest Guide.

The Martin Family

A family that’s been here since Day 1, The Martin Family is one of the most traditional clans of the Dark Castle.

Commissioner James Gordon Martin: One of The Originals. The man behind the Dark Knight’s armor. He builds, he lights and he ‘rum-pages’. There is nothing he can’t fix or skulls he can’t smash. The Commissioner is also an Outdoor Actor and Scene Leader, main builder and electrician.

Linda Levay Martin: Linda originally joined the Castle as a Rogue Knight, before joining the Martin Clan. Linda is an Outdoor Actor and Scene Leader.

Will Martin: One of the most faithful Knights to enforce our ranks, Will Martin is one of The Originals, which means he’s been here since day 1. He’s an Outdoor Actor, Scene Leader and Dragon Wrangler.

Lisa Marie Martin: Also a member of the Clown Crew, Lisa is an Outdoor Actor in the infamous Circus Scene.

Destiny Martin: Outdoor Actor.

Jacqueline Martin: Outdoor Actor and Clown.

Catherine Martin: Outdoor Actor and Guide as The Fortune Teller.

Nikki Martin: Outdoor Actor as Calamity Clown, Scene Leader.

The Roberts Family

Along side the Martins, The Roberts Family are one of the most ancient and traditional Clans of Dark Castle.

Shane Roberts: Outdoor actor as The Witch Doctor and scene leader, Shane is also know as The Kid Wrangler and Informal Tough Guy.

Tracey Roberts: A former member of the Martin Clan, Tracey is also one of The Originals. She’s been here since Day 1. She’s an Outdoor Actor as The Ring Master, Scene Leader and head of The Clown Crew. She’s also an informal Mother Figure to all Dark Castle’s creatures.

Abigail Roberts: Outdoor Actor and Scene Leader.

Aria Roberts: Outdoor Actor and Scene Leader.

Casey Seitz: Outdoor Actor as Clappy, The Clown and also one of The Originals.

The Wingard Family

The Wingard Family Clan also have some of the most faithful Knights to be part of Dark Castle.

Stephen Wingard: The Man with The Space Pants. The Stranger Danger. Stephen is a man of many names and many pants. He’s also an Outdoor Actor and Scene Leader.

Dorothea Wingard: A former member of the Rueger Clan, Dori – as we know her – is one of The Originals. She’s also been here since Day 1. Dori is an Outdoor Guide and Scene Leader.

Deanna Wingard: Indoor Actor and Informal Zombie Wrangler.

The Rueger Family

The Rueger Family Clan might have changed throughout the years, but they have been here since the beginning.

Scott Rueger: Outdoor Actor, Scene Leader and Professional Nice Guy. Scott Rueger is one of The Originals and he’s also been here since Day 1.

McKenzie Rueger: Outdoor Actor.

Isabella Rueger: Outdoor Actor.

The Redmon Family

One of the newer additions to Dark Castle, the Redmon Family are gearing up to become another one of our traditional families.

Kenny Redmon: As one of our main Knights, Kenny will do whatever is needed to get the job done. He can build a bridge in a day and park an RV in the most impossible places. He is also known for his characters – BDK and General ShortStack – Kenny is always The Man for The Job.

Charity Redmon: Indoor Actor as The Widow, Scene Leader and Informal Mixologist. Beware.

Kayla Redmon: Indoor Actor and Make Up Assistant.

The Dozier Family

The Dozier Family is a recent addition to Dark Castle and they ‘re not fooling around. Their scenes are always epic. They also scored an award on their second year on board. Hooray!

Perry Dozier: 6’11” of pure kindness and smiles, “Coach” is an Indoor Actor as the Frankenstein Monster and Candyman, he is also a Scene Leader.

Elizabeth Phelps: The Math teacher we all wanted to have, but be careful: the hook the carries around is real! Indoor Actor and Scene Leader.

The Oliveira Family

Another one of the newer families, The Oliveira Family started as a branch of the Stepp Family… after a foreign alien was dropped in the Castle grounds.

Elizabeth Oliveira: Originally Elizabeth Stepp, she’s been working in the Haunt since Day 1, starting when she was 9 years old. Elizabeth is currently the Indoor Head Guide and has a vast array of characters: Rigg, Penny Creepy, Areola and Superfluous.

Eduardo Oliveira: The Alien dropped in the propriety. He speaks weird, but he’s harmless. Eduardo is currently our Creative Director, Head Make up Artist and Mask Maker. He basically lives at Dark Castle – some say it’s a curse, but he sees it as a blessing. Go figure. He’s also an Outdoor Guide as The Wizard.

Tavi Oliveira: A happy little boy who lives in the Castle. He likes to play hide and seek with the ghosts and dances to the sound of chainsaws.

Toulouse (aka The Shithead, aka Buboo): An orange cat with a nub for a tail. He might show up in the Zombie Zone and demand to be pet. Buboo is the King! All hail Buboo!

Tootles (aka The Asscat, aka Bubber): An orange cat with a long tail. Don’t worry you’ll never see him, but he’s always watching you!

Trick (aka Larry): A black cat that showed up at the Castle. Legend says that he is actually the reincarnation of the original owner, Larry Oates.

The Droze Family

The Drozes are a core family to the Dark Castle. They manage and organize several key aspects of the Haunt.

Michael Drozer: Known as ‘Zombie Mike’ by everybody, he’s quite worthy of his nickname. Mike is a Zombie Zone Leader and Zombie Wrangler.

Trina Droze: She usually does not deal with zombies, except for hungry crowds. Box-Office Muscle and Concession Stand Pilot.

The Wright Family

Even though The Wright Family is a recent addition to our ranks, one of its members is a traditional actor of the Dark Knight Family. He is now starting his own Family Clan.

Matt Wright: Outdoor Guide, Indoor Actor, Scene Leader and Professional Handsome Guy, Matt is a Theatre veteran and a very versatile actor, responsible for some of the most iconic scenes ever staged at Dark Castle.

Caroline Balthis: She visited, she saw, she screamed and she stayed! Indoor Actor and Scene Leader.

The Boleyn Family

It doesn’t matter if it’s an Indoor or Outdoor Scene, they will make it remarkable.

Billy Boleyn: Indoor and Outdoor Actor and Scene Leader.

Caroline Boleyn: Indoor and Outdoor Actor.

The Travis Family

Traditionally an Outdoor Trail family, they manage to be everywhere and stay together at the same time. For them, scaring is a family hobby.

Matt Travis: Outdoor Actor. Always carries Richard Nixon’s head with him. He swears he’s got no political preference: he kills on both sides of the aisle.

Crystel Travis: Outdoor Actor. A sweet Mama, but you should see the size of her sipping cup.

Matt Jr.: Outdoor Actor

Mackenzie Wright: Outdoor Actor.

Haley Moore: Outdoor Actor.

The Dark Knight Family

The brave Knights that belong to all families. They are all embraced by the Dark Knight Family Clan.

Lee Nelson: Indoor Actor and Scene Leader. He’s also a sort of informal body guard to Matt Wright.

Courtney Lauren Fortson: EMT and Healer.

Christi Cato: EMT and Healer. Concession stand pilot.

Peter Palmer: Indoor and Outdoor Muscle. Scene Planner.

Rock Sims: Indoor and Outdoor Muscle. Scene Planner and Informal Tunnel Engine.

Billie Rogers: Indoor Actor and Scene Leader.

Sandra Saldivar: Indoor Actor and Scene Leader.

Brandi Byers: Outdoor Actor and Scene Leader.

Jan Hutto: Box-Office Muscle.

Toni Sheridan: Outdoor Actor as The Sexy and Deadly Gretel and Scene Leader.

Michael Roper: Known as ‘Spider Mike’ by everybody, he’s an Outdoor Actor and Scene Leader.

Moose: Indoor and Outdoor Muscle – which means he does everything.

Laura Rayle: Zombie Zone Actor.

Katie Rayle: Zombie Zone Actor.

Shea McCandless: Indoor Actor.

Kasandra Harper: Zombie Zone Actor.

La’toya Thomas-Vida: Indoor Actor.


Larry and Joan in Germany. Mid-1960s


It was back in 1999 when a US Army Veteran and his son, Mitch Oates, started a Seasonal Haunt then known as Dark Knight’s Terror Trail.

Original Founder and Operator, Larry Oates ran the haunt until taking ill in 2003.

His wife, Joan Oates, was always by his side and established herself as The Storyteller. For many years, she sat by the fire pit entertaining our guests with Ghost Stories while they waited for their turn into the haunt.

Their legacy is still alive and will be carried on by their families, friends and all clans that work hard to make Dark Castle an eternal scary joy.