The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Review: Nautical Spooks

2013_qm_dh_logo_blackThe Queen Mary stands as a testament to ship building technology. A marvel of the early 20th century, the exotic cruise liner played host to a number of celebrities and royal figures from around the world, and even served during WWII as a war ship, carrying soldiers to the front lines of battle. The ship made her final voyage in 1967 and docked in Long Beach, CA, where it has resided ever since.

Once a year, though, the ship becomes a stomping ground for ghouls and spooks, and converted to a Halloween spectacular. Mazes are constructed inside the hollowed corridors of the ship itself, and numerous other activities related to the scariest holiday of the year litter the immediate area.

Myself and fellow NR writer Holly took the time out to visit this special Dark Harbor event, and for as small as the area it encompasses is, there really is a good amount of stuff to do.


Of the six mazes that were on hand at Dark Harbor, three of them stood out the most in providing scares. The Village had people traversing through a woodland village, including a slaughterhouse, insane asylum, and a dark forest, all filled with creepy scenery and energetic characters, including one girl that was attached to a wall in chains, using them to attack the wall itself in an attempt to break free. Hellfire, meanwhile, had you going inside the ship itself, with numerous burn victims scurrying about, and even one point with a bridge hanging high over the bottom of the ship itself. The bridge itself even had a mechanism to make it shake just enough to freak out those with a fear of heights.

As far as having a whole package goes, The Circus outdoes them all. The newest maze for 2013 has the scenery that makes it reminiscent of being under a demonic Big Top, with a hall of mirrors, moving floors, and all the undead clowns and other circus monsters you could want. The entire maze had the two of us on edge, with characters interacting with us all the way, and all the tricks and traps bombarding us after every turn.

Accompanying the circus related frights was a side area called The Freak Show. These mini-mazes had customers going though short excursions to meet the freaks on display. Sadly, these can be considered the weakest of the event, as in some cases the lighting was so poor that we couldn’t even get a good glimpse of the freaks themselves, and others simply lacked the monster activity to warrant a visit. Sparky, however, was the most enjoyable of the lot, though more for the fact that it was a charred skeleton making jokes to the people that came to see him than any actual scare factor.

the ringmaster

There are also a number of other attractions outside of the mazes themselves, though most of them are a bit overpriced. This including the zip line, where customers can pay $20 to fly a short distance over the festival itself. The side attraction we ended up getting the most out of was the Haunted Hookah Lounge, hosted by So Cal Hookahs, where Holly and myself just shot the breeze between ourselves and the owners for somewhere between half and hour and 45 minutes whilst enjoying some hookah. There is also a stage where live music is played for customers, as well as regular magic shows throughout the evening, and it makes for a good hangout area if you want to take a break from the scares, or feel like watching drunk people dancing to the tunes from the DJ.

Probably the most surprising aspect of the whole thing was the aesthetics, something you see all around you as soon as you step into the area. Everything fits the Halloween theme, including the food stands, which have all taken on spooky names for the occasion. As cheesy as some of the names are, one can say that it’s cool because of the cheesiness. Creepy Tacos? Terror Tavern? Dracula’s Pizza? It’s silly, but it’s an impressive attention to detail that most parks forget about when doing a holiday extravaganza.

Overall, Dark Harbor itself is a more affordable alternative to larger excursions that is still able to give attendees the frights and scares they came for. It’s also at an impressive state landmark and popular tourist attraction, making it twice as enjoyable. Our one recommendation is to look into a Fast Fright Pass if you can, as you can expect there to be a lot of crowds going in the more popular mazes. Still, it’s a well put together event, with lots of scare talent and a good amount of creativity in the design of the mazes and the surrounding area, and worth checking out if you’re a local Halloween fan.

Final Grade: B+

Facebook Comments