The Queen Mary again brings us one of Southern California’s best Halloween events. We have a lot to pick from here with Universal, Knotts Scary Farm and Disneyland all just a short drive away. For the value of your hard-earned cash, Dark Harbor is a great choice.
This is only my second year going to Dark Harbor which opened in 2010. Dark Harbor has replaced a few other versions of the event- Queen Scary, Haunted Shipwreck and Queen Mary’s Halloween Terror Fest.
The annual haunt opened its gates this year on September 29th and will continue to scare those who dare through October 31st. Last year I went on the last night and enjoyed the Dia De Los Muertos party. This year I went on opening night, but got there kind of late, so I unfortunately missed the opening festivities. I loved all the mazes and the only real constructive criticism I had was that in a few places there was a lack of scare actors. Dark Harbor does not use huge amounts of animatronics and the mazes depend on the monsters to flesh out the storyline.
One of the things that will always make Dark Harbor unique is the fact that it is at the Queen Mary. With its haunted past and ghostly legends, it just makes it that much creepier knowing that we are walking through what is very likely real haunted areas of an old ship. Dark Harbor mazes transport us into that haunted history in a very special way. Bringing the spirits to life in their own mazes is a great touch and I would love to hear even more of their stories in years to come. Scary Mary, Graceful Gale, Half-Hatch Henry, Samuel the Savage and the newest addition, The Iron Master, are based on real ghostly legends. Most of the mazes had some sort of pre-show info to give us those back-stories, but I know I didn’t get enough time to hear them completely. Not that that took away from the scare value- I just love a good ghost story!
I enjoyed all the mazes, but I truly loved all the fun Scary Mary interactions in Lullaby. With Scary Marys everywhere to play hide and seek with there was a lot to see and do. I got a shiver up my spine going by the pool area thinking that a little girl really drowned in a pool on this ship. After Lullaby, the amount of scares and fun I had in the mazes were in this order: Soulmate, B340, Deadrise, Intrepid and Circus. I was really impressed with each maze as I went from each beautifully designed vignette to another, meeting demented, bloody and creepy characters who shared with me their sad (and sometimes angry) stories. The monsters had awesome timing and even though it’s hard to scare me, they got me turn after turn! Each room had so many details it was hard to take them all in. I would have loved to have had the time to go through them over and over to see each room in totality.
Some of the other attractions offered are the Hex paintball gallery, Panic 4-D show, The Voodoo House Bar and Tasting room, (The tequila was excellent!) The Sinister Swings (the real ride brought here from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch) and one of my favorite areas, The Sideshow. The Sideshow is a fun area to kick back in and sit for a while, have a drink, watch the freak show, get your fortune read or just enjoy the people around you. I got very disoriented in the foggy mini maze going in, actually getting a bit lost- but it was fun.
One of my favorite things every year is the Slider Challenge Show- These monsters don their steel toed shoes, knee pads and gloves and show us some amazing physical feats! I am always awed at the amount of athleticism it takes to be this kind of scare actor.
The combination of scary mazes and a fun carnival midway make Dark Harbor a great place for groups, date nights and families. I am very thankful to the wonderful folks at Dark Harbor for inviting me into their world and I can’t wait to see what new monsters will rise up from the depths to scare us next year.
General admission ticket prices start at just $20 online, with Fast Fright upgrades, VIP R.I.P. Lounge access, Creepy Cabana rentals, and historic hotel packages available. For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit www.queenmary.com/dark-harbor.
All Photos by Vicki Woods
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