Upon initial arrival to Queen Mary’s Halloween offering, you’ll know exactly which direction to head towards for the entrance, because a gigantic, thunderous flamethrower will occasionally fire off into the air, causing a bright flash and loud roar. This is your welcome into the park – once you make it inside, you have entered Dark Harbor, an entire fantasy nightmare-land sprawling across the boat’s deck, and even spilling onto the vessel itself.
The first thing that is to be made abundantly clear is the sheer scale of this place – if you came expecting your average, classical haunted house walkthrough, you should think again. This is far bigger than even I expected, rivaling the horror outputs of Universal and Knotts Scary Farm. Included in the grounds are seven different horror mazes – each with their own distinct theme, a main stage which fire, music, and other variety shows were located throughout the night, as well as food and drink outlets located all over the park. There’s even a 4D horror movie attraction built into the ship that you can check out. Overall, this place is massive, and there are things to do and see all night long, even if you arrive right when it opens.
Walking around the park grounds, characters will frequently walk up and jump out at you, so the feeling of excitement never quite leaves the air, even when you exit the mazes. There are several different kinds of mazes, ranging from ‘Circus,’ to ‘Lullabye,’ to their newest maze, ‘Feast,’ each title suggesting which sub-category of fear it will be tackling as you make your way throughout. The mazes themselves are absolutely phenomenal, filled to the brim with actors, props, and scares of all different kinds. You find yourself frequently turning into new villains and characters, each with quite a bit of noticeable forethought and intricacy in regards to their costuming and imagery. It’s easy to tell that everyone running this is a big horror fan.
If you are a horror fanatic and find yourself completely unfazed by the haunted house output in Los Angeles, you probably aren’t going to walk away feeling like you finally got the thrill you’ve been seeking, but the mazes are still well implemented enough that you will make it through each maze with at least one scare moment. Several of the mazes actually utilize The Queen Mary boat and its dark, creepy underbelly hallways, which works on an entirely unprecedented level for atmosphere. They’re all designed with a lot of thought in mind, each with their own detailed intricacies that both expands on their own themes and offer different surprises. I will not ruin it for anyone, but there is a secret bar located in one of the mazes, and if you can find the right person to let you in, then you’ll be transported to a mid-way point through the haunt where you can enjoy a drink behind closed doors, then step back out into the scares and finish the walk.
There’s a lot to unpack here, that it almost feels disadvantageous to write about it all. It’s definitely worth the experience – if not to be scared for the thrill, it’s an impeccably mesmerizing experience to be plucked and placed into a horror “world” for a night. You’re completely surrounded by the scares at any given moment, and the food and drink certainly don’t hurt either. The setting, placed by the harbor, adds to the overall atmosphere, as you do feel relatively secluded and open out by the water. And if you’re brave enough to finish all the mazes, you’ll walk through quite a few standout moments that just further this feeling. You’ll know exactly what I mean the second you come across them.
Overall, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is an experience that is well worth your time, casual horror fan or not. If you’re close by, it should definitely be a no-brainer. There are a plethora of smaller haunted houses in the LA area, but it’s nice to step out and experience one with the resources and capability to produce a large-scale spook-fest like this. For more information on the best-haunted houses in the area,
we have the guide just for you HERE.
Tags: Adam Sputh, Circus, Dark Harbor, Feast, Halloween, Halloween 2017, Haunted Hauses, Long Beach, Lullabye, Queen Mary, Secret Bar
Adam Sputh is a student at Columbia College Hollywood, in Los Angeles, California. His current interests include Los Angeles culture, film making, and writing about himself in the third person.
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