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Event Report: The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor 2017

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Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is back this year with maritime vengeance, and we were there this past Thursday, September 28th to soak it all in. Read on to see what lurks in the bowels of the eighty-one-year old ship which houses this long-running SoCal fright fest.

Taking place on the dock and aboard the 1,000-foot-plus, three-stack, Art Deco steamer RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, the 2017 rendition of Dark Harbor offers up seven fright mazes, which include the new “Feast” attraction, all delivered within an engagingly fun, carnival-like atmosphere.

With four mazes located inside the vessel, we first ventured into “Soulmate,” which showcases the original character of “Graceful Gale,” a 1930’s glamor girl intent on assembling the perfect man via guest’s body parts (unlike Halloween Horror Nights, Dark Harbor doesn’t license outside intellectual properties, instead relying on the imaginations of their own creative directors, and in their case, to good effect). It, as do the other mazes aboard, take full advantage of the labyrinthine nature of the Queen Mary below deck. And also like the other mazes aboard the ship, it’s long. Prepare yourself for many twists and turns.

The mazes “B340” and “Lullaby” were up next. Also aboard ship, the journey into “Samuel the Savage’s” psyche in the former seems relatively unchanged from 2016, while the latter’s descent into the world of “Scary Mary” seems intensified this year somewhat. The supernatural child’s looking for guests to play with her in hell. Will you join her? The production design is on point here, as are the scare actors, committing entirely to their roles (this continues to be a strong point of the attraction overall).

The new maze aboard ship for 2017 is the previously mentioned “Feast,” and if cannibals are your cup of tea, you’ll be more than satisfied by what the “Chef” is preparing in the galley (it’s basically you). Taking cues from some of the boutique haunts in the SoCal region we’ve experienced, Dark Harbor employs here a section within the maze that forces guests to craw (in this case, through a faux oven), so be prepared.

Following and on the dock, we trekked through the maze “Intrepid,” which focuses on the DH character of “The Iron Master.” Some original character makeups lay within (undead victims covered in molten iron), and while we found it enjoyable, the maze itself seemed again overly long and with a narrative we couldn’t quite decipher. “Deadrise” was next, with the returning fan favorite DH character of “The Captain” returning for some undead aquatic fun. This maze possesses some creepily engaging laser and fog effects, and at times is entirely and enjoyably disorienting.

On the heels of this encounter, we worked our way through the attraction’s last maze “Circus,” which features carnival performers seemingly straight out of Tod Browning’s classic film Freaks and which features a hidden bar/lounge area. To access, simply query Zoltar, “What lays in my future?” From there a hidden door will open which provides entry (and make sure to check out the 1970’s era video game console inside, which will allow you to spy on guests entering the attraction, as well as to trigger scares at your discretion). It’s a fun maze, although the disappearance of last year’s interactive “Sparky the Skeleton” character was indeed noticeable, and we’re hoping he’s brought back for the 2018 run.

With several bars and food stations (beware though: they aren’t cheap), dozens of roving magicians and monsters, aerialists and performers in addition to the mazes, Dark Harbor is evocative of a traveling carnival on steroids, and that’s just one more reason, in addition to the amazingly affordable ticket prices (under $40.00 for General Admission) you should visit.

The annual haunt opens its gates on September 28 and continues to scare those who dare on select nights through November 1. General admission ticket prices start at just $20 online, with Fast Fright, VIP Passes, Creepy Cabanas and lodging packages available. For more information or to purchase tickets online, click here.

Queen Mary Dark Harbor

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