Opinions vary about The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor but, anyone who goes this year cannot deny the actually haunted attraction has outdone themselves. I visited Dark Harbor last year after not visiting for at least ten years in between and had a great time then. Yet, this year was even better. Perhaps it was because of the killer deal my group got. Maybe it was because we got there well before the gates opened. Or could it have been that I actually felt uncomfortable and lived an actual nightmare? It all comes down to the fact that it was a more than satisfying hauntingly evening. Let me tell you all about it!
I often get anxiety heading to Long Beach. It's like the end of the Earth in my perspective and being it was a Friday night, I was worried about getting there too late and missing the opening presentation and waiting in long lines. Then I had to remind myself that we had Fast Fright on top of our general admission. Dark Harbor has some cool line options. You can pay for Evil Express which offers no wait. Fast Fright for minimal wait and then General Admission and you will wait until you die and become part of the attraction.
But, the afternoon flowed. You see, I had a group of six. After dropping a ticket off and picking up a ghoul-friend and getting some Rad Coffee in me, we were well on our way and made it to the ship an hour and half before the gates were set to open. It was daylight, but the night was already flowing in our favor. We happily skipped and jumped our way to the entrance. It was lovely taking our time and really getting to enjoy the photo opps and it wasn't terribly crowded. There was even two bars to accommodate the waiting victims.
Us ghouls looked like a confused Girl Band, didn't we? Darkness descended rapidly and we hardly noticed. Then some dance music blared and we found ourselves right up against the gate. The sweat really began to pour when the Captain arrived on the balcony above the gates. He pumped us up and also warned us about what was lurking behind the gates. The monsters pounded on the gates until they opened and all hell broke loose. In such a good way, don't worry. Then again I welcome debauchery. We entered through the gates and being our bellies were rumbling we stopped at the first food place we saw, shoved some meat sticks in our mouths and took live pics and videos. Again, I was a bit anxious to hit the mazes. And again, I had to remind myself that our wait time was minimal. But, us being us and ready to jam we started the night with the first maze closest to us. Intrepid. Probably, not the best idea as the maze let us out outside of the entrance gates and we had to circle back to get back into the Haunt. So, my advice. Do that maze when you're ready to leave.
We made our way to the ship and walked through Feast which was long and gross and hot, but also very spooky. The Queen Mary doesn't need a ton of special effects as you already know, the ship is haunted. We were really thrown off when our group faced some uncertainty about where to go when we ended up at a shut off escalator. We ended up going down further and further before coming up again. That was the first uncomfortable part of the night. That moment we thought we had made a wrong turn.
We found our way topside again and thought we were rad when we ran into the first bar while exiting the maze. We didn't know shit. We found moments later when none other than James Carter, my fearless Creepy Kingdom leader, explained we had to look for clues for actual secret hidden bars within the mazes. Tokens were required to enter the bar so like kids on a scavenger hunt we went seeking the symbols in each maze. Oh, we found the clues and literally shoved our tokens into the host's nose but, we were denied entry into the secret bars within Lullaby and B340 because each bar was at capacity. We were forced to make our way through the last two ships mazes with no cocktail. Maybe that was a good thing because the smell in B340 was noxious and there were parts of Lullaby were all just got quiet. Like our ears were muted. But, those encounters were nothing compared to discomfort Dark Harbor's newest maze gave me.
Rogue tells the story of the ship being capsized by an enormous rogue wave. I have reoccurring nightmares about Tsunami's so being immersed in a simulation where a giant wave crashes on the ship gave me the shivers. Yet I proceeded. Looking for the secret bar was the utmost paramount priority. The unending collision alarm bell added to the unsettling atmosphere of the maze. Then came the situation were we were faced to endure our fear of claustrophobia. These airbag tunnels, as I have been calling them, have been a thing at each haunt I've been too this season. But, the one within Rogue is the longest and tightest I've encountered. I could not spread my arms to make a path before me in this one, I was forced to endure the sensation of squeezing through a pitch black corridor that lasted way too long for my comfort. Once I emerged from the tunnel, I was ready to get the fuck out of the maze so I wasn't too upset when we were again denied entry into the secret bar.
We took a break and enjoyed the swings, watched some live entertainment only Dark Harbor can put on. Carnival like entertainers included, fire breathers, jugglers, tight rope walkers and more. All within a dark and evil setting. We realized we had made it through the Haunts six mazes and it was only 9:45pm. "Lets go through Rogue again!" My group decided much to my dismay. The goal at that point was to get into a secret bar one way or another. But, it was also a consensus that Rogue was the best maze of the night. I am no punk so I went through the maze again and lived.
We ended up visiting the Carnival maze again. This maze fucks with your sensory as any good fun house would. Mirrors and moving floors and the fact you have to jump in and crawl out of a ball pit adds to the disarray. But, best of all, we gained access to the secret bar within! Yea!
It was a perfect Haunt night for me and my ghoul's. With the minimal waits, ridiculously talented scare actors and actually getting scared and dark humor, I'd say all missions were accomplished at the Queen Mary's Dark Harbor!