The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor. Photos by Michael Garcia.
There’s something special about going to the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Halloween attraction. The ship’s tight corridors and history make it an excellent place for a haunted amusement park. Seeing the ocean water as you enter the docked ship, then looking down to the ship’s massive rudder further cement that you’re about to enter a haunted vessel.
“Step right up, step right up,” the ghostly ringmaster stationed atop the park entrance tells guests. “Take photos if you must but turn off that flash!”
The inhabitants of Dark Harbor hate flash photography. They’re also more… human. They won’t just growl and yell, they will converse and keep you off guard, just so that the very next moment one of their friends can give you a good scare. One maze, called Lullaby, has a mad priest introduce you to the legend of Scary Mary and how she drowned in the ship’s swimming pool.
The ship’s interior is full of long corridors that force you to get up close to the creatures. The stairs are a perfect place for hiding, and you might just see a hand slipping through the steps, waiting to catch a guest. As you turn the corner, you’ll see a grotesque body crawling on the ground, moving in ways no living thing should be able to.
This year’s newest maze, Feast, has you going through a kitchen with brains and eyeballs on platters and hung up slaughtered pigs. If that’s not bad enough, you have an undead Gordon Ramsey inspired chef screaming at you that your food sucks and to get the hell out of his kitchen.
You should run, the monsters totally like that.
As I left the ship, one female ghoul started talking with me, taunting me about how I was alone (my guest unfortunately had to cancel). She said human friends are overrated, monster friends would never leave you. They can’t because they’re dead and they could use someone good to eat. She later set me up for a high-five and left me hanging. I totally fell for it.
Next on the menu was the maze Deadrise, a war-ridden battlefield that will have you go through shipping containers, complete with exploding water barrels (you will get wet), and very hot pyrotechnics. You will have to duck under camouflage netting as dead sailors yell at you to turn back, while banging on the walls.
Other mazes are dark. The type of dark where you cannot see your hands in front of you and have to hold your arms out just to make sure you don’t run into a wall. If that isn’t bad enough, they also add fog to the mix that completely blocks your view and will have you run into a zombie chef with a rusty meat cleaver.
I also ran into multiple walls and mirrors in a circus-themed maze. In my defense, so did other guests. My favorite experience was going through mazes where the ground was unstable, making me feel a real sense of danger.
Once I was in Deadrise maze, where the wooden panels creaked under my footsteps, and the other was in Lullaby, crossing a shaking bridge aboard the ship.
There were also live attractions on two different stages including a trapeze artist and contortionist that exhibited her inhumane ability to bend herself over a rope and a fire knife act where two fire twirlers battled with their flaming swords.
Some of the souls trapped at Dark Harbor are Sliders, known for the metal pads they wear on their knees and wrists. They find pure enjoyment in running up behind guests and sliding in front of their path, causing sparks to fly off the pads.
They later put on an act, showing off their athletic abilities. They slid across the ground on their metal kneepads and jumped over and under each other as they went through each others’ legs.
Top Sliders from across Southern California will come together to show off their skills on October 14 and November 1 for Sliders Unite.
Later on in the night, I went to another shipping container that had cold fog seeping out of its door and a coat rack full of polar jackets. An attendant told me to put on a jacket and go in.
Inside was the Meat Locker, a new attraction where you can feel the frigid air enter your lungs and see your own breath in the 9-degree environment. Do not fear, you can always warm up with your alcoholic beverage of choice (mine was vodka).
Meat Locker bar.
Dark Harbor is now open on select dates through November 1 and is open 7:00PM to midnight Thursday and Sunday nights and 7:00PM to 1:00AM Friday and Saturday nights. It will have a Halloween costume contest on October 31 and a Dia De Los Muertos celebration on November 1. General admission tickets start at at $24 online. Limited tickets are available for Happy Hour Haunting, held an hour before the park opens from 6:00PM to 7:00PM in the Voodoo Brew in the Voodoo Village and these tickets include admission to Dark Harbor. For ticket information click here.
The Queen Mary is located at 1126 Queens Highway.
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