Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Adds More Frights Onboard!

The Captain of the Grey Ghost has risen from within The Queen Mary and has opened the gates to his Dark Harbor! Unleashing his ghoulish spirits and monsters on all the ships guests, the harbor has been filled by evil spirits, demented monsters, freaks and lost souls. Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor truly is where fear lives!

Dark Harbor is a unique experience unlike much of the region’s other haunts. This horror event held at The Queen Mary every year captures the romanticism of the ships past and embellishes its haunted folklore’s. It is able to base itself on something others cannot… bank off its claim of being actually haunted! And while I have gone into great detail last year in regards to benefit of having mazes within the depths of the ship, this year lets focus on some other differences.

For starters, other local haunt events are known for either their quantity or their quality. This year it appears Knott’s has stepped it up to not only have the largest number of mazes, shows, and other attractions, but also delivers quality that only Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights has been able to compete with. While this has been true in years pasts, other local haunts have been amping up their game with top-notch quality attractions and terrifying immersive experiences. While the other large events claim to fame can be in their numbers, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor has increased its maze count to 7, with ample other experiences to now enjoy throughout the night.

This year, two previous mazes that sat inside the large domed event center that continues deteriorate in the parking lot have made their way outside. This change has definitely been for the better. Intrepid and Circus have seen a breath of fresh sea-air as previously they simply appeared to have a large void of scenery inside the event center. Forced to move outside due to previous engagements, new creative scares, theming and ideas have taken shape.

Dark Harbor’s 7 mazes include now 4 on the ship itself. Embarking on areas previously not opened to guests, this years new maze is Feast. The name alone gives an idea of what one may come across in which I’ll detail a little more below. These on-ship mazes are eerie in their own right, but thee events characterization, originality, and stories help this haunt stand out.

Walking into the event and past the large medal gates, haunt-goers are welcomed by a plethora of monsters. Be sure to arrive for opening, not only help with long lines, but to test your mental fortitude to make it past walls of vicious spirits. These aren’t just random creatures, no, instead each one plays a part to their corresponding mazes. In a sense, they tell a story all in their own. Once past the “starting lineup”, a large open area allows for the characters to shine. Some of the onstage talent will be lurking around interacting with guests with other monsters roaming. My buddy and I enjoyed countless interactions with ghostly musicians, devilish tricksters, and twisted acrobats throughout the entire night.

Even though the roaming characters at Dark Harbor take the cake for me more so than the typical scare zones of the competition, Dark Harbor also benefits from a relatively small footprint. This doesn’t affect the mazes, in fact, they are some of the longer mazes out there. Instead, you may find your feet thanking you for not needing to walk a mile from an upper lot to a backlot through endless streets and tunnels just to get to other mazes. With 4 of the mazes on the ship, and the others right out front, the entrances are all relatively close to each other.

That being said, you’re right, they wont have the attractions or coasters you may find at other nearby haunts, but instead deliver a relatively more enjoyable easy-going experience with places to lounge and actually enjoy a cocktail! That’s right… Dark Harbor still has booze. I would be happy going several nights and just plopping on an old cushy chair in front of the Main Stage sipping on my beer enjoying one of the many quirky acts.

There is one thing I will not pretend doesn’t exists, and that’s the lines. Yes, the queues will fill up and they are as uninspired as all the rest. Simply endless switchbacks with nothing to look at. You could be surrounded by rowdy teenagers for well-over an hour so I cannot stress enough… do yourself a favor and splurge for the front-of-line pass. Its price is truly priceless. Plus, you will be able to take advantage of the night and just enjoy the atmosphere.

With plenty of content, experiences, and drinks… Dark Harbor remains one of the best values of the season! Tickets start at just $24 with Fast Fright (front-of-line) passes starting in the mid $60 range! Be sure to visit The Queen Mary website for more ticket info and view all options.

MAZES

FEAST – NEW!

This all new maze is theme you would have expected them to have already done. Exploring the ships kitchen and the delightful finger foods the chef has chopped up for us seems like a no brainer. Well, there are plenty of brains and gruesome treats around every corner. In reality, there was a lot more they could have done with this one, but it’s a solid first year for this one. Highlight of day was for sure crawling through the oven.

Lullaby

This maze takes you to the depths of The Queen Mary as Scary Mary tries to captures the ships guests as her playmates. This deranged maze pulled me in right away with great scare-actors and performances. These are just people turning around a corner and hitting a wall. Instead each scarer has their own quirks, childish evil laugh, or story to be told. They all seem to be really into what they are doing and take pride in their performances. By far one of the standout mazes.

B340

Unfortunately, this journey through staterooms and halls fell flat this year. Not sure if we missed most of the maze monsters or if it was a light cast for the night, but it was definitely lacking some “umph”. The theming is still there, and I like the premise, but it just didn’t feel right. Audio seemed a little lackluster and to many spots of nothingness. There is a lot here that could be taken advantage of, but just wasn’t.

Soulmate

This favorite of mine from last year takes its guests through a masquerade ball with Graceful Gale. Sadly, she seemed to be a bit absent for the party. The previous decor and backstory that lined the queue last year was gone. This is partly due to the small stage here being placed elsewhere, but regardless, still lost. This was something I did a little later in the night, and it too seemed have missing much of its cast. I want to like it so much, but they need to step it up.

Deadrise

This one is entirely dependent on the scare performances. It’s more of a bare bones set-up that’s set among a former warship. With much of the maze within the open-air, this definitely must be done at pure darkness. The design allows for lots of scares, but it will be hit or miss depending on timing. It’s the nature of the beast, but hopefully you are with a squirmer they will go after. This maze did feature one of my favorite rooms of the night that brought the biggest scares of the night.

Circus

Formally in the dome, Circus is now truly under the big tent. It’s claim to fame is the possibility of having to go through a ball-pit. Still can’t believe they allow for it. I LOVE IT, but in sue-happy America it’s shocking it has survived. This simplistic maze is on the shorter end and doesn’t offer anything riveting, but it is pure simple haunted hose fun. It may be the one to skip if you can’t get to all the mazes. If you can make it though, still fun to do the classics!

Intrepid

This no doubt has had the biggest change since last year. This was another move from inside to the parking lot. This has allowed for a new design including utilizing the small village buildings out front. Headed through a train and and Scottish ship yard, the theme gets a little murky. However, I still enjoyed the scares and clear fun all the scarers were having.

OTHER

Panic 4-D – Upcharge

I’ll be honest, even though we could have gotten in for free when we went, I always feel like these 4-D shows can be gimmicky and opted to skip. I could be completely wrong and this may be an amazing experience. I really should have waited it out. The wait area is within the exhibits area, so there is some great history to look at. It really feels out of the element and not related to the actual event. I just wish they could do some dressing up to wait area, but I completely understand this theater is used during the day on a regular bases.

The Meat Locker

We had a preview of an ice bar disguised as a meat locker. With body parts cleverly submerged in the ice-made bartop, it’s an excellent option to get out of the craziness and into a parka. Held at 9 degrees, this ice-bar allows for Vodka tastings from a PB & J flavor to grass. Yes, grass flavored Vodka. You may not need the jackets after a few tastings.

Other happenings include tarot card readings, high-flying swings flat ride, uncharged elevated cabanas, a RIP (VIP) Lounge, and several small stages for more intimate acts.

Parking

I definitely recommend some research before you attend! Parking at the ship is practically not an option unless you want to pay $40. There are buses that you can take from the Aquarium of the Pacific parking. It’s just $15 (Cash only) there.

My Itinerary

There are many options you can experience the night, but if you want something to start off with, here is what I would do if I did not have a front-of-line pass.

Arrive 30 minutes prior to opening. Enjoy the opening ceremony and head straight to the new maze, Feast. Once you exit, head back toward the ship for B340 (longest line I saw and it can get stuffy). Follow it up with Lullaby. Take your break with some Pulled Pork sandwiches and grab a beer by the Main Stage. Hopefully there are some open seats and you can rest for a moment to take in some of the acts. Still thirsty, check the line for The Meat Locker for some Vodka to keep you pumped.

After some libations, head on into Deadrise followed by Intrepid. Head on over to the far right of the ship and check out the line for Soulmate and Circus. If Circus isn’t long, check it out. Follow it up with Soulmate because it appears that due to its location that the line remained smaller than the other ship mazes. From there, the rest of the night is yours!

If you looking to purchase tickets by end of day Saturday, 9/30, you can use promo code FEAR30 at checkout to receive 30% off general admission.

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Joel Covey

Joel has been writing for SoCalThrills for the past decade covering entertainment, events, and theater since joining the site. He is a CSUF alum, studying within the Communication and Radio / TV / Film colleges.