Photos by Soren Sum.
I’m more of a surrealist when it comes to horror. I want to believe that the creatures and monsters I perceive are not just figments of my imagination.
There is just something sublime about the paranormal that both excites and frightens me. All I can say that my first experience of the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor was pretty amazing, no pun intended.
The annual Dark Harbor event began last Thursday night on September 29 and featured six mazes along with five attractions. Iconic mazes that returned were Lullaby, B340, Soulmate, Circus and Deadrise, each haunted by their respective ghastly characters like Scary Mary, Samuel the Savage, The Ringmaster and others.
Attractions included a sideshow of crazed freaks, demonic paintball, a VIP lounge for those 21 years and older, a private tent for you and your friends to escape the horror, a bar and tasting room and a 4-D virtual theatre.
The new maze Intrepid is based on the Scottish shipyard where the Queen Mary was first built, according to Charity Hill, the executive producer of Dark Harbor and entertainment assistant director of The Queen Mary. Hill said Intrepid is one of her favorite mazes, along with Circus.
“The main character for Intrepid is the Iron Master,” Hill said.“Intrepid is a two-story maze and I just love the elements of it, mainly because it’s new. I liked seeing things that were in my head come to life.”
Now in its seventh year, Hill said she expects this particular Dark Harbor to draw in more crowds. According to her, the event garners an average of 130,000 to 150,000 guests each season.
“We want to show people a great time and scare the pants off them,” Hill said. “It’s being able to deliver a really exciting guest experience that’s [both] terrifying and engaging. I think that’s the most important thing.”
As for me, I can definitely say that Soulmate both profoundly stole my heart and creeped me out. The ambience of the background music was a great touch, as the maze got more and more twisted. In the beginning, the maze was very welcoming, but as I journeyed further, it was more terrifying. The music grew increasingly distorted towards the end. These are things I look forward to. I have to agree with Hill that the mirrored section in Circus is definitely a treat and clowns just make matters worse. I am definitely not clowning around on that one.
Still, I believe Dark Harbor is worth checking out if you don’t want to wait in long lines like other amusement park Halloween events, such as Universal Horror Nights or Knott’s Scary Farm. It’s short and simple, and well worth the price. All I can say is: be there and be scared.
The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor will haunt for select nights through October 31. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased online here.