The most exciting thing about Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is walking through the mazes on board the ship. No plywood replica can give the authentic chill that comes with running your hands along the steel riveted walls. Totally unique among SoCal haunts, these mazes often go right through areas where paranormal activity has been reported and documented. So, if you are looking for real ghost stories this Halloween, Dark Harbor is the place to be!
For 2015, Dark Harbor has created a seaside spectacle with shocking twists on old mazes, and a festive freaky atmosphere that would make P.T. Barnum proud. Expanding the overall circus theme, art director J.J. Wickham’s team has taken the tales of real hauntings and exaggerated them to provide thrill seekers with six exciting mazes, an all new Sideshow of freaks and oddities, and much more!
B340. Insanity and homicide. A chaotic and terrifying trip into the mind of a schizophrenic psychopath, Samuel the Savage. This maze relies on flashing lights and loud sounds to drive you running through the narrow pathways of his demented mind. The number B340 corresponds to a cabin number where something awful took place. Can you make it off the ship, or will you be trapped in the dark hallways forever?
SOULMATE. Gradeful Gale’s story has been expanded into a darkly gruesome tale of twisted romance. Gale has been haunting Dark Harbor searching for her soulmate.
To try to make her happy, demonic creatures chop up and reassemble her suitors, trying to create the perfect man for her. She waits for him in a ballroom where a huge heart hangs overhead. If you aren’t careful, the demons might have you in stitches.
CIRCUS. You may think you have seen this one before, but the rooms have been rearranged and some new tricks are waiting inside the dome! Clever use of dead end passageways and mirrors, kept me constantly confused in this maze full of magicians and clowns. And yes, there’s a ball pit with a creepy clown hiding inside it! I was so glad I wasn’t wearing a short skirt or heels. It isn’t easy wading through this hilarious room. Don’t lose your friends or your shoes!
LULLABY. In the dark corners around the pool, blue lights shimmer and play over the tile surfaces. This is the hiding place of Scary Mary, who according to Dark Harbor legend, drowned in the pool in 1952. Ducking through a small doorway, I entered little Mary’s room where she led me to a tea party, past creepy teddy bears, and finally to the pool where she met her fate. Scary Mary is looking for a forever playmate. Will you escape with your soul?
VOODOO VILLAGE. The Voodoo Priestess protects the village and doesn’t like visitors. Step into her threatening world and immediately get lost in the misty Louisiana swamp. Alligator skins hang from the ceiling as I pushed through Mardi Gras beaded doorways. This long maze is full of evil spirits and dangerous characters who would love to use you in their next blackhearted spell. One of the things I love about this maze is the realistic changing floor textures as I walked from room to room over soft and hard ground, wooden bridges, and through the murky swampland.
DEADRISE. This shipwreck shaped maze lies in the shadow of the Queen Mary herself. Shaped like a vessel broken in half, Deadrise juts into the night sky like a scarred soldier. Much of this maze is open to the air, so the sights and sounds of the carnival outside are part of the fun. Huge flame throwers shoot fire into the sky, close enough to blast guests with tangible heat. Branching pathways allow guests to take alternate routes as they wind through the wreckage. At one point, I went up some stairs and over the top of a section of the maze, while others walked below. Water effects have also been added. You might get quite wet, so keep your phone in your pocket! The maze ends with a disorienting ghostly tunnel of white lights and smoke. Guests like to gather outside the exit to see if any especially tricky monsters can give people one last scare on the way out. Of course, they got me!
Sideshow: Freaks and Oddities
The circus freaks are back with a new set up. There is a nominal fee to gain access to this section of the haunt. It’s only a few dollars and totally worth it. Inside, you’ll find a bar and a stage where performers work the crowd. It has a “private party” feel as you enjoy a cocktail, mingle with costumed creatures, and watch the show. Three mini shipping container haunts are inside. In one THE WHITE GHOST, white lights and smoke fill the air. In another container THE SHADOW SPIRIT hides in total darkness.
Curse of Anubis: Paintball Adventure
Jumping on the paintball craze, Queen Mary has a shooting gallery where guests can take a shot at killing a mummy. With only 30 rounds to fire, it feels a bit costly for the price ($10). For the most part, I had to take aim and shoot at stationary or slowly moving targets. Even though I’m not much of a marksman, I hit them all easily. Once you’ve done that, the game loses a little spark until a real monster shows up and quickly runs through the room. Of course, when that happened, everyone blasted him. Fun, but I also felt a bit bad since the poor mummy didn’t seem to be wearing much padding! Our mummy only ran through the room twice, which was a little disappointing. I would suggest more real monsters (with lots of protective padding) to give us more bang for our buck.
Dark Harbor also features Michael Jackson’s Neverland Swings, a main Stage with magic and circus acts performing, and multiple Food and Drink tents with bubbling cocktails served in blinking light skull mugs (luckily most people were kind enough to turn off these flashing lights inside the mazes).
A highlight is always the Slider Show which takes place several times a night. Energetic members of the slider group sprint across the asphalt sliding over and under each other with sparks flying. Make sure you catch their show which takes place right in front of the dome. If you miss it, watch out… the sliders are around all night and love to slide between couples as they walk by with full glasses of beer or buckets of popcorn. Don’t spill any!
If you want to go the deluxe route, Dark Harbor has Creepy Cabanas where you can hang out with your friends in the middle of the action. This has a significant upcharge, but is a nice place to call home base and isn’t very expensive if you come with a large group and split the cost. Specialty performers can also be arranged to do their acts table side, an interesting concept I haven’t seen anywhere else.
Next to the cabanas, is a Hookah Bar which seemed to be a popular stop the night I visited. Guests can also upgrade to VIP status which gives Front of the line access (Fast Fright Pass) to all mazes and access to the RIP Lounge with three drink tickets. VIP pricing starts at $94 for select dates and is limited to guests 21 and older.
General Admission starts at $24 online, but a limited quantity of Happy Haunting Hour tickets are available for $20. These tickets are for guests who arrive at the park between 7-8pm only. If you arrive after 8pm, you cannot get in with your Happy Haunting Hour ticket, so only purchase this if you are sure you can arrive on time!
Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is better than ever this year! As the only Halloween attraction located in part on a real haunted ship, you can test the limits of your fears with these specters from the sea. Will the spirit of Scary Mary rise up out of the pool to strangle your screams?
To find out more, visit Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor online.