Halloween Event Review: Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor 2014

By October 6, 2014
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Welcome back to the latest in our series of articles reviewing various Halloween-related activities in the Southern California area.

I had never attended Dark Harbor, but their ScareLA panel had me itching for opening night. I was not disappointed. I was actually pretty shocked at how much I enjoyed myself. There is plenty of entertainment to take in between mazes: a mechanical bull, giant swings from Neverland Ranch (Yup, as in Michael Jackson’s home…the swings were incredibly beautiful but really creepy. I loved them), scarezones, bands and/or DJs (depending on the night), and food. So much food. But, the clear stars of the show are the mazes. Here’s a brief and spoiler-free breakdown of the best aspects of each one:

Encounters

This is a special maze that requires an additional fee of $15/person to experience. A small group is taken on a tour of the ship by a “ghost hunting tour guide.” Throughout the tour, guests experience “real” paranormal happenings. This maze takes a lot of cues from Delusion (an interactive horror play in Los Angeles going into its fourth year). This isn’t a bad thing, because Delusion is amazing. Yet, Encounters didn’t quite achieve the intensity level it was going for. While it was fun, and our tour guide did great with what she had, it just wasn’t worth the extra money. There were a few great incidents throughout, but it was just too short and didn’t quite meet the level of realism that they were going for to be worthwhile.

Freakshow

Freakshow costs an additional $5, but I would recommend ponying up the money and experiencing this one. This maze perplexed me. At first, I was unimpressed. There were cheesy fake sideshow displays that awkwardly lined the room. Next, we saw a human blockhead (who was extremely entertaining). But, then we walked into a room that surprisingly scared me. (Warning: I’m going to spoil this maze, but I’m just so excited about this one that I have to share.) The room is completely white, draped in white sheets which are covering most of the area. It’s lit intensely with a fluorescent light, making it hard to see. Off the floor jumps someone dressed all in white (who I now know is referred to as the White Ghost), who leads me to a room that is much the same as the last, except the white is now black. Total darkness. Figures start moving around me. They got me pretty good a few times in this one. Maybe it was because we were completely alone in the maze or maybe I’m just crazy, but I absolutely loved this maze, despite its simplicity. Something about the pure darkness is terrifying and wonderful.

QM 2014 med

Circus

The Captain of the ship has decided to celebrate the rising of the true spirits of the Queen Mary, thus this haunted circus was born. This maze is just pure fun. There are some great scares, and wonderful actors in here.

Deadrise

This maze is based on a World War II escort ship that guided the Queen Mary through enemy waters, but sank after a fatal crash. The wreckage of the ship dwells at the bottom of the sea and The Captain has called those resting in the decay to service. Honestly, this is the only maze I didn’t like. The theoretical story behind the maze is much more interesting than the maze itself, and just didn’t read well.

Voodoo Village

This maze doesn’t have as a backstory that’s as defined as the others, but it was still great. The sets were elaborate and lovely to look at and there were some awesome scares throughout. Overall, a really fun and entertaining maze.

QM 2014 2

Submerged

Scary Mary, the ghost of a young girl, is looking for a playmate amongst the living and you could be it! Submerged takes you into the poolroom and throughout the ship. The poolroom is extremely creepy on a normal day, and the haunt just amplifies the pre-existing creep factor. This maze utilizes a lot of the physical ship really well, which is a huge plus.

B340

Room B340 is one of the most haunted areas aboard the Queen Mary, and this maze utilizes that background to the fullest extent. This time, we are offered a chance to go inside the mind of Samuel the Savage and follow his descent into complete madness. This maze was pretty amazing. It had just the right combination of gore, jump scares, a great storyline, and disturbing characters. This maze is exceptional and is a real treat for those that can experience it.

QM 2014 3

Soulmate

Graceful Gale is looking for her soulmate, and her minions are aiding her by taking apart victims and reassembling them into her perfect man. This was by far my favorite maze of the night, if not one of my favorite mazes that I have ever walked through. It is simply stunning to behold, there are perfectly-timed scares, and the storyline is fantastic. I still cannot stop talking about how much I adore this maze. It’s as perfect as a haunt can get.

The team behind Dark Harbor did an exceptional job of incorporating the real-life ghost stories associated with the ship into the mazes. Because of this, the mazes within the ship directly related to the ship’s past were really the best the event had to offer, as well as my personal favorites. The event as a whole was top-notch and not to be missed for fans of the Halloween season.

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Amanda Story

Amanda Story

Amanda is a GeekNation contributor who lives in Los Angeles.