The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor 2014 (review)

queen-mary-dark-harbor-2011Last Thursday, fellow Reactorite Laura (who acted as my photographer for the evening) and I attended The Queen Mary’s annual October haunting Dark Harbor in Long Beach. I attended last year and have lived in Long Beach for almost two years now, so I was excited to check it out again.

This year, Dark Harbor has a total of eight mazes, four of which are brand new. Most of the mazes are based on the historical hauntings within the ship itself, as are most of the representative characters within the mazes and roaming the grounds. I love this aspect of the event because through a bit of fun, you actually learn about the history of this ship. Yay for education! Even if it’s presented via entertainment! There’s also a ton of caricatures to interact with as you make your way from maze to maze and a main stage with a horror-themed band and DJs.

Me in the B340 maze

Me in the B340 maze

B340 is a new maze and was by far my favorite. It was super unsettling simply because it’s so dark. Within this maze is the character Samuel the Savage, a schizophrenic third-class passenger who was aboard the ship in 1948. After a violent outburst, he was isolated in his room, stateroom B340. He was later found dead and it has never been clear if he was murdered or committed suicide. The room is actually not even used anymore because of the volume of paranormal activity. B340 is a representation of Samuel’s warped mind.

Graceful Gale in Soulmate

Soulmate is also a new maze this year, built around my eternal favorite character, Graceful Gale. In the 1930s, Gale was a first-class passenger and it’s rumored that she was so charming, men lined up to dance with her. In May of 1939, Gale boarded the ship, but disappeared during the journey. The maze reflects her search for her soulmate and the mysterious circumstances of her disappearance, which has never been solved.

The Voodoo Village is technically new, but I actually felt as though it was a bit more of a dialed-in version they had last year. For this maze, they added a new character this year: the Voodoo Priestess. The maze now has a more focused theme, taking place in New Orleans with a haunted Mardi Gras setting. Upon exiting the maze, you may see the Voodoo Priestess singing on the Village Stage. If you do, consider yourself lucky because she is hugely talented in her vocals.

Deadrise is a maze that actually has a couple real-life inspirations. The maze is swarming with spirits of sailors, which are rumored to haunt the Queen Mary from a the Curacoa, a ship that collided with the Queen Mary and subsequently sunk in 1942. The second inspiration is that of the character Half Hatch Henry, who is based on a young firemen who was dared by his buddies to play chicken with one of the watertight doors in 1966. On his seventh jump across the threshold of door No. 13, it slammed closed on the man, crushing him.

Maze character

Circus is located within the Dome next to the Queen Mary and, while it’s fun, I felt as though it was less scary and more Ringmaster spectacle. The inside of the Dome is just lit up too much for it be as unsettling as the other mazes. Be careful not to face-plant in the fun house mirrors though. I was not careful enough.

Submerged is a returning maze, focusing on drowned souls within a sinking ship. Within this maze also lies Scary Mary, a character based on a young child rumored to have drowned in the second-class poolroom in 1952 (there’s actually no official log of this happening though). Bonus of this maze is that you actually get to see the art-deco style poolroom, which is awesome, but it’s not the actual pool where the little girl is said to have died. That pool has since been removed. Womp womp.

Encounters is the last of the new mazes and is actually an educational escorted tour in which you get to learn about all of these legends and see places like the engine room, door No. 13, and one of the giant propellers they still have suspended in water. It’s kind of cool, but also kind of cheesy with the obviously acting escorts. It also costs an extra $15 on top of regular admission. Worth it? Probably not. Perhaps the concept will be better executed next year. I wanted to see B340!

Freakshow returns this year and, instead of several mini-mazes of “freaks” within shipping containers (clever since we’re so near the Port of Los Angeles), it’s one large maze. I found the mini-mazes last year very meh. They definitely flow better as one. The downside? It’s an extra $5 to enter this year. The upside? My favorite “freak” from last year is back! I loved the interactive stand-up comedian skeleton Sparky. He’s hilarious, quick with the wit, and definitely an unexpected attraction at a haunting.

The Swings

The other extras? Throughout the grounds are several food outlets. Expect what you would expect at any county fair: Deep fried everything at ridiculous prices. There’s also several bars, including the RIP Lounge, which costs extra on top of general admission, but is a much more comfortable place to relax than the picnic tables. It also overlooks the entire event, which is an enjoyable perspective. There was a zip line last year and I was disappointed that it wasn’t there again this year. To make up for its absence is a swing ride. As fun? No, but it’s actually a ride that was at Neverland Ranch for a time, so I suppose that’s kind of cool for die-hard Michael Jackson fans. There’s also VIP cabanas, a hookah lounge, and a mechanical monster to ride sprinkled throughout the grounds.

Dark Harbor runs now through November 2nd, weekdays from 7pm – midnight and Fridays and Saturdays from 7pm – 1am. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Dark Harbor. Evil lurks within.

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Holly Amos
Holly Amos 125 posts

Pro Trekspert. Sherlockian. Tolkienist. Movie/TV freak. Music lover. Sports enthusiast. Cosplayer. Fangirl/geek extraordinaire.