Celebrate Halloween with Shaquille O’Neal (maybe) at the Queen Mary’s Shaqtoberfest

Looks like the annual Dark Harbor Halloween event held at the Queen Mary is no more. But a new Halloween event at the ship will take its place, organizers said today.

Dubbed “Shaqtoberfest,” the event will be narrated by former NBA all-star Shaquille O’Neal and will include six Halloween-themed areas and fun for both families who want trick-or-treating and adults looking for something scarier, according to event producers New York-based ABG Entertainment and Denver-based Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group.

The areas will feature Halloween trails, games, live entertainment and food and beverage vendors, and will “encapsulate O’Neal’s playful personality,” according to the event producers. The event is billed as being family-friendly, but will also appeal to adults, according to the event producers.

During the afternoon, the trails throughout the event area will offer trick-or-treating fun for kids, who are encouraged to come dressed in costumes. But at night, “energetic lights and music,” along with “O’Neal’s ghoulish minions” will descend on the trails to do their best to frighten adult attendees, according to the event news release.

The Queen Mary has been closed since March 2020, when the statewide stay-at-home orders went into effect to curb the spread of COVID-19. The ocean liner hasn’t been open to the public since.

Because the ship is currently undergoing $5 million in repair work, Shaqtoberfest will take place on the land around the Queen Mary instead of on board it.

Thirteenth Floor, which bills itself as the world’s largest Halloween-themed entertainment company, currently produces 16 Halloween events throughout the country. But Chris Strafford, CEO of Thirteenth Floor Entertainment, said Shaqtoberfest will be “unlike any other Halloween attraction that we have ever produced.”

While Matt Goldstein, senior Vice President for Entertainment and Special Projects at ABG Entertainment says that, “Fans of all ages are going to have the time of their lives celebrating Halloween with Shaq,” it hasn’t actually been announced if the 15-time NBA all-star and owner of the Big Chicken chain of restaurants will actually make an appearance at Shaqtoberfest, though event producers said a recording of O’Neal’s “instantly recognizable voice” will narrate the entire event.

Shaqtoberfest will run from late September through Halloween, but exact dates weren’t available at press time. Ticket prices are also unknown.

There is a Shaqtoberfest website, but it currently offers little information beyond a form for people to fill out to get upcoming news on the event and a 30-second video of O’Neal saying the word “Shaqtoberfest” a lot. There is also a Shaqtoberfest Instagram account (@Shaqtoberfest) though at press time its only post is the 30-second Shaq video.

The popular Dark Harbor event was first canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a decision made in line with federal, state and local guidelines and uncertainty regarding the pandemic, then canceled again in 2021, though event organizers at the time said it would return for 2022.

Queen Mary cancels Dark Harbor 2020

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Anthony Pignataro is an investigative reporter and editor for the Long Beach Post. He has close to three decades of experience in journalism leading numerous investigations and long-form journalism projects for the OC Weekly and other publications. He joined the Post in May 2021.
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