Under the direction of Long Beach’s EPIC Entertainment Group, The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor event has become one of region’s most respected and attended Halloween events, even being named one of the nation’s top haunts by Oprah Magazine.

Now, Urban Commons has approached EPIC to take on a sister haunt at one of its Florida properties in the hopes of not only expanding the dark haunt brand but bringing in a new audience in a space that is largely considered family-friendly, the waterpark known as the Holiday Inn Resort Suites in Orlando.

Two years in the making, this is Dark Horizon.

“We’re really trying to bring in an entirely new group of people into the park,” said Steve Sheldon, managing partner for EPIC. “Think of it as a mini-version of Dark Harbor for East Coasters—and like Dark Harbor, where we focus on the history and myths of The Queen Mary, Dark Horizon will focus on the rich lore of Florida.”

Unlike California, where we call the haunted strips of exploration at various theme parks “mazes,” Florida calls them “haunted houses” whether they’re actually in a house or not. For its inaugural year, Dark Horizon will have three haunted houses:

  • Murder Island: This haunted house will be based on one of Florida’s most infamous serial killers, “Bloody” Ed Watson. In the early 1900’s, he bought Chatham Bend Key, one of the Ten Thousand Islands in the Everglades—and eventually made himself a massive fortune by turning the space into a fertile cropping estate. In order to get the work of the crops to fruition, Watson would hire labor and, upon payday, murder them. When law enforcement stampeded upon his one-person enclave, they would dig up over 50 skeletons.
  • Ghost Ship: Mary Wolverston, also known as Lady Mary Killigrew, was a wealthy woman who would transform into a pirate whenever her husband would leave town—quite literally. She would board a ship of pirates, basking in the pillaging and theft that would take place before returning as a “lady” of the house when her husband came back. In EPIC’s retelling of this legend, Killigrew boards the wrong ship, one filled with botulism, and guests have to deal with her and her crew’s creepy, toxin-induced insanity.
  • Vodou: Based on Haitian Vodou (commonly spelled “Voodoo”), this haunted house will bring the Priestess from Dark Harbor and transplant her into the swamps of Florida, allowing visitors to explore the Vodou underworld.

Dark Horizon will make its premiere in Orlando on Oct. 4. Dark Harbor at The Queen Mary will open on Sep. 26.

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.