Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor opened its gates for the first time yesterday, and We Are Indie Horror were there, shaking in our boots, ready to to see what ghosts the Queen Mary brought out this year. Gates opened a couple hours early for the media to check out all the haunted attractions, including their newest haunted maze, Lullaby.
As we waited in the courtyard, the Captain greeted all the unsuspecting media folk with a special appearance by The Ring Master. Once the gates opened, all the monsters and freaks that the ship had to offer gave us a spooky welcome the only way they know how.
First stop for We Are Indie Horror was the new Sideshow: Freaks & Oddities, complete with a full bar! Now this part of the harbor does cost a little extra to get into, but it is worth it. Entering into the Sideshow is in itself a bit of a maze, you also have to endure a joke telling skeleton. Once you are in, it’s as though you have left the harbor completely. The walls are high and the freaks are abundant where the Ringmaster runs the show. One thing is apparent in this side attraction (as well as through every maze) is the cast of characters are phenomenal. Each freak is individually creative, unique, and down right freaky! Plus they have it all, a human blockhead, a bearded woman, contortionists, masochists, but the best parts lie in the shadows. Within the new Sideshow a couple of mazes are present, but the Shadow Man wins the “Almost Need New Pants” award. Not gonna ruin too much, but there were expletives shouted, mostly by us. OK, entirely by us, moving on.
Dark Harbor has six mazes, three of which are actually on the Queen Mary; Soulmate, B340, and the new Lullaby. The mazes through the ship take you through some of the coolest, most haunted parts of the ship. The caverns of the ship create not only an eerie energy but it uses claustrophobia against you. Again, not trying to give spoilers, but there is an epic scene in the massive Boiler Room which we recommend you take your time through. You also do get to walk through the Pool Room, which is said to be haunted by at least two actual ghosts. One adult woman and Jackie, a little girl who supposedly drowned in the second class pool which has since been removed. If that doesn’t give you the chills, then Scary Mary’s ghostly voice will definitely help.
Also new this year to Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is the Curse of Anubis experience. Also a little bit of an up charge, but you get to shoot real walking mummies with paint balls. Set up like a shooting gallery, the interior looks like an underground Egyptian tomb. Mummies have awoken from a curse and now roam the tomb looking for new souls. Your job is to use your paintballs to stop them before they take over the whole park.
All of the mazes were great and went above and beyond in atmosphere and character creation. Honestly we can say there is not one bad seed in the park. Although Circus wasn’t too scary, it may be one of the best fun house style mazes I’ve experienced. All of the mazes are quite long, and all of the scaractors were phenomenal. They are much more interactive here than at other major haunts, and they go beyond the quick “Boo”. All the characters did a great job of keeping you engaged in the story of the mazes. So be sure to take your time through the rooms because a few have some killer monologues that will chill you to the bone.
Apart from the scaractors, the mazes looked brilliant. Dark Harbor‘s lead scenic painter, a.k.a a featured Fear Maker Madison Rhoades, along with the art department, have done a great job making the mazes look unique, beautiful, and just downright scary. Did I mention that the mazes are long?
They aren’t done yet. Adding onto the long list of things at Dark Harbor, there are four different stages, each showing off an array of diverse talent. They’ve brought out everyone, from belly dancers, to fire performers,you can even watch an aerial show while waiting in line for B340
The place does get pretty packed, and lines can get long. Scratch that, lines get huge. It’s definitely worth looking at shelling out the extra few bucks for the Fast Fright Pass, which you can do once you are inside. There is also a V.I.P Experience which includes access to the R.I.P Lounge. The lounge offers a private bar, unlimited sliders, and the best view you could ever want above Dark Harbor. Also private cabanas are available for rent, because this is Southern California, and who doesn’t like to sit back in a private cabana watching people get scared. Dressed as a traveling carnival or fair you can also ride the actual swing ride from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. That’s right, for just $5 you can ride on Michael Jackson’s very own swing ride. Definitely worth the money just to say you did it and for the great dizzy view of the entire event.
Overall the Queen Mary has once again put on a spectacular event. Our suggestion, the Fast Fright pass is almost a necessity if you want to get to do everything, and despite having to pay extra, the Sideshow is definitely worth it. Dark Harbor runs now thru November 1st on select dates.