Dark Harbor 2012 – Another Gotta-See Haunt At The Queen Mary

Updated and expanded theme, more monsters, more mayhem—the staff of the Queen Mary attraction in Long Beach have upped their game to new levels and are on a steady course to challenge the Southern California “big boys” (Knotts Scary Farm Halloween Haunt and Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights). This year, the Dark Harbor event is more impressive than any previous Halloween event held at the Queen Mary, and you need to go!


The Characters
As much fun as the Demon Sisters Bundarra and company were the previous two years, Dark Harbor is going back to its seafaring roots with a new cast of five grisly ghosts who bring style, class, entertainment and chills to the whole affair. The 2013 Dark Harbor introduces The Captain (looking snappy and sinister in dress whites), Graceful Gale (a spectral presence of old-fashioned glamour), Half-Hatch Henry (a gruesome dead daredevil), Scary Mary (a fearsome little girl ghoul) and Samuel the Savage (the bloodsoaked victim of a paranormal event during a voyage). The creative team and the actors really did a fine job of bringing these characters to life, and they tie the whole production together—wandering everywhere in the Dark Harbor, including scaring guests in the mazes.

The Wandering Monsters

A certain other event used to be famous for its sliders, but has very few nowadays. Dark Harbor, on the other hand, has plenty of sliders and they burst out of the darkness a lot! The Harbor has brought back all their monsters and added a full 33% more (the press saw ‘em all during a hilarious “Running of the Monsters” on opening night), so when you go through the seaport village looking for a snack (they’ve got delicious food), a drink (if you’re 21+ you can enjoy adult beverages everywhere except in the mazes) or just to arrive at your next maze… there’s plenty of monsters looking for you.

The Mazes
I do believe Dark Harbor has added one more maze this year (if memory serves, they’ve only done five mazes each prior year)—and there’s not a clinker in the bunch. The lineup is:

Deadrise… the new maze in a newly setup space, this one has much more open air than the others but it doesn’t skimp on jumps and creepouts. The ghosts and ghouls aboard this shipwreck are supposed to be helping The Captain and his henchghosts reclaim the Dark Harbor from the living, and they’re working hard to do just that. A lot of fun!

The Cage… a great tradition continues as the event transforms the former Spruce Goose dome into a highly disorienting and disturbing experience. The big space of the venue is put to the best use here, and if you’ve got a thing about… things… touching you in the dark, you might want to skip this one…

The Village of the Damned… another banner year for this maze, which continues to impress with both the sheer length of its corridors (if you had to pay for a ticket, you’d get your money’s worth and then some!) and the gory entertainment found in its medically themed mayhem.

Hellfire… a fire-themed shipboard maze is one thing. But a fire-themed shipboard maze with corridors where you walk in the darkness on a layer of ash and crunchy things underfoot? That’s called attention to disgusting details. I was impressed.

Submerged… a water-themed shipboard maze that goes the extra mile in all its decorations and setups, with the advantage of the already spooky ocean liner swimming pool room and some real standout monsters (an eerie little girl character comes to mind)…

Containment… the last shipboard maze is all about disease and insanity run wild in a seabound epidemic. This one’s a little sparse in its scares and tableaux, but if you let your imagination fill in the blanks, it’s still a real knockout.

All the shipboard mazes use the dark, cramped confines of the Queen Mary to great advantage, but I’ll warn you (as I always do): There are stairs in these mazes, so you’ll need to be ready to do a little climbing up and down. (The historic vessel does not have universal wheelchair access.)

The monsters are talented and high-energy, the lines aren’t TOO terrible (but if you get a VIP pass, your feet will thank you), the atmosphere is strong and the event is a fast-rising up-and-comer. The R.I.P. Lounge is a lot of fun if you’re looking for that first-class experience, too. If I have a complaint, and this is really only a minor quibble, it’s that the village used to have a lot more fog, and now it’s clearer. But we all know that fog comes and goes in haunted parks from one year to another, and you have to allow for some change in that area.

The Queen Mary Dark Harbor event is open now, and it’s rapidly becoming a Halloween must-see. Check out their website for more information.