Review: Shipwreck

So Friday was the opening night of the Queen Mary’s Annual Halloween “Terror Fest,” Shipwreck. I attended, of course.

If you’re just lookin’ for a quickie review: I’d give the haunted mazes a B, and I’d give the attraction overall a B+.

All the basic info you could want can be found here.

If you need a bit more perspective before you decide to slog all the way down to Long Beach, read onwards for all the gory details (get it? get it?)!

The Queen Mary is anchored (marooned is probably more accurate) down in Long Beach, across the waterway from the aquarium. Depending on where you live, it’s a bit of a trek, though once you get on the freeway you won’t have to get off until you arrive in the parking lot.

Now, the Queen Mary’s website says parking is $12. When we arrived it turned out to be $15. The dude at the gate’s only response to this was, “Websites’ll do that to ya.” As though websites are notoriously unreliable and I should’ve known better. Parking is always the hidden gouging fee for any attraction, but I still found this annoying. Anyway, I recommend car pooling.

One thing the website was correct about was that you should get there EARLY. On Fridays Shipwreck is open from 7pm to midnight. We aimed to show up like 7:45, thinking this was early enough. Wrong. We spent probably around an hour waiting to get in. But eventually, we did.

This weekend, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, are the “preview nights.” The upside to this is tickets are basically half-price. Downside is that the attraction isn’t 100% done. Everything is open, but all the finishing touches aren’t finished yet. Since I had no idea what everything would ultimately look like, it was a bit hard to accurately judge what was lamely under-decorated and what simply hadn’t been decorated yet. So keep that in mind here.

There are six mazes total. Three aboard the ship. Three stand-alones outside.

I went with a lady-friend and her friend, and they commented much (negatively) about the lack of set dressing in the “main lobby,” as I’ll call it, where you can get beer and whatnot and dance to incredibly lame music. Maybe a week from now it’ll look different and better. I don’t know. I didn’t care as much. I was simply happy to have beer after waiting in that damn line.

As far as the mazes: my lady-friend had a blast, continually surprised and scared by random things. But her friend could not have been more unenthused by everything, finding nothing scary and most things outright laughable.

As for me? Well, I like haunted mazes in general. Even when they aren’t scary, I have fun. That said, Shipwreck could stand some improvement for sure.

This was the first functioning night, so it might improve, but I thought a lot of the “actors” inside the mazes seemed a bit lazy. There were almost too many actors as well – the scariness of mazes is already compromised by being part of a caravan of other spectators, the “surprise” of what’s about to come inherently lessened when you see someone jump out at the people directly in front of you – so having a surplus of dudes in cruddy costumes everywhere only served to make each of them less scary too. And most really weren’t even doing anything.

We did all agree that the mazes on the ship were the best. The ones outside aren’t bad, but they’re just like any other stand-alone maze you’ve been in. But the three ship mazes snake through the bowels of the ship, up stares, down slopes, through dusky narrows passages, around pipes and boilers, even past the Queen Mary’s long abandoned (and supposedly haunted) swimming pool. It’s here that the creators of Shipwreck didn’t have to try as hard. The bowels of the boat are creepy all on their own. Frankly, we noted, it would probably be scarier to walk down there without all the haunted house jazz.

We also saw live music (I hope you like death metal and goth rock), an excellently disgusting block-head act, and an embarrassing magic act. There was a big dance party rave in the giant white dome next to the Queen Mary, but things were closing down by the time we finished the last maze, and based on the quality of the music we’d heard already, we figured we weren’t missing much.

Preview night prices are $19. Regular admission is $34. If you’re a big haunted house/mazes fan, then definitely check it out. The mazes may not be particularly inventive (the all black light maze does have its appeal though), but getting to explore the spooky belly of the ship is a unique experience in itself. If you go with other like-minded peeps, you’ll all enjoy yourselves.

If you’re only planning to do one night of such entertainment this month, you’ll probably be better served doing Universal or Knott’s, as far as bang for your buck goes.

Hope that was helpful.