Prepare to board a ship full of shivers as Dark Harbor settles over the Queen Mary in Long Beach with its annual fog of ghouls and ghosts. What could be a better way to get in the Halloween spirit than exploring the mazes aboard a real haunted ocean liner? The Captain has taken over to claim the ship back for the dead that once roamed its decks, and maybe bring along a few extra souls back to the briny depths with them.
There are seven mazes to brave, many draw from the Queen Mary’s own spooky history and lore while others offer their own unique characters and flavors of fear and horror.
The classic favorites are back, notable changes this year are that Circus has moved from the dome area to central grounds and got combined with the mini freak show experiences from years past. Losing that area made the maze feel smaller and less fun house style disorienting, and the in-line entertainment has been shifted outside as well. Lullaby is just as creepy as ever as innocent looking playmates try to lure you to your death as their syrupy sweet little voices echo as they rattle off haunting sing song rhymes that always seem to end grim.
Soulmate was still one of my favorite and feels very period and mournful as the lovely Graceful Gale seemingly teleports along to follow you and claim an unlucky suitor. B340 follows the story of a psychopath that went on a killing spree onboard and is appropriately stifling and intense, it really makes you get down on your hands and knees and earn your freedom, so be prepared.
Deadrise is slightly less waterlogged than years past but don’t get too distracted staring at the molten steel waterfall, these soggy sailors still have some good scares to offer. Intrepid takes place on a train but quickly meanders off the rails as it becomes thematically disjointed the more you venture into its depths, meeting plague doctors and swamp monsters alike, and wonder if this is just some sort of fever dream. The laser room more than makes up for it though and was one of my favorite effects.
If you have been in years past prepare to see something new, you’ll have more twists and turns to discover as Dark Harbor has added a fourth Maze on board called Feast which will allow doomed visitors to explore parts of the Queen Mary that haven’t been opened as part of the past experiences before. The maze is based on a grizzly tale of a chef who was baked in his own oven in the ship’s galley, and now is back to serve up just desserts, but beware you don’t become the main course.
Aside from the mazes there are plenty of ways to lounge, hang out, and be entertained to make a night to remember. There are stages with live shows, music, skill and comedy acts, even fortune tellers and fiddlers. Indulge with some authentic fair food like deep fried Oreos, cotton candy, funnel cake and chocolate covered bacon or take time out at the hookah lounge. There even is a full fair-style swing ride if you want to take it for a spin. Bars are scattered throughout the grounds and even nestled right inside the mazes to keep the good times rolling whenever them whim may take you.
If you are looking to have a drink, do be sure to venture into the Meat Locker ice bar experience, where you can have a flavored vodka tasting served freezer-side in a room carved from ice, and maybe a bit of an arm and a leg, all kept at a frigid seven degrees. This was one of the most notable new lounge additions, inside you can try unique flavors like grass, peanut butter and jelly, and even dark chocolate.
If that is a bit too cold for you, you can enjoy the sea breeze at one of the cabanas beside the lights of the haunted fair, overlooking a stage full of acrobats, aerialists, and fire breathers. Yes, they offer cocktail service here too.
Tickets are as low as $20 for those who choose to take advantage of the Haunted Happy Hour and arrive early to their FUN-eral. Season passes are $99. Otherwise general and VIP admission is available, as well as a variety of Fright Fast Passes and special packages. Hours are 7pm to midnight (1am on Fri and Sat). But hurry, Dark harbor is only haunting until Nov 1st.