Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is back again for another terrifying year in the Long Beach harbor, bringing with it 6 mazes, a plethora of shows, and an eclectic assortment of freaks, ghouls, and ghosts ready to torment guests throughout the Halloween season. This year Dark Harbor debuts two brand new attractions: Lullaby, a haunted maze, and Curse of Anubis: Paintball Adventure. Also back are 5 returning, but heavily updated mazes.
Natives of Southern California are all too familiar with the Queen Mary’s historically haunted reputation and this is something that the heads of this event took very seriously. Seeing as how the ship is rumored to be inhabited by several spirits, Dark Harbor actually brought in a psychic medium, someone who can communicate with the dead, to ask permission before they went forward with building any mazes on board, just in case. We assume that they gave their approval as half of the mazes are built on the ship.
First up for the night was Soulmate. This maze was one of our favorites last year, and this year was no disappointment. Returning as the feature of this maze is Graceful Gale who is on a mission to create her perfect mate made from all the perfect parts of the men she attracts. The length of this maze felt a bit shorter than last year, which may be due to some renovations currently taking place on the ship. However despite the length, the designers were somehow able to find room to add new scenes and scares that took this already great maze up a notch.
Also returning this year is Deadrise, located on the midway, the crew of a sunken navy ship have surface to recruit new members. This one felt longer than last year and had some added features like multiple path choices. Our hats off to the crew in this maze. These sailors were high energy, witty, and super aggressive. Definitely a must see.
B340 is the story of a man that went on a killing spree aboard a cruise ship and was held captive in his room (Room B340) until the ship reached shore, where he descended into madness. This is a maze that we really enjoyed last year even though we weren’t quite sure what the story was at first. Something I took note of this year was the use of signs set throughout the queue lines of the mazes that told some of the back story of the characters and settings you are about to encounter. Having an idea of what we were about to walk into made the mazes work that much more. B340 in a word, is unsettling. Highlights for us were the church and its nuns and of course the brain room, as you literally walk through the mind of psychopath. Be sure not to skip this one.
Next we checked Curse of Anubis: Paintball Adventure. This attraction puts you into a haunted Egyptian tomb where you have to use paintball guns to fight off Anubis, the God of the Underworld and his mummies. This attraction is a $10 up charge and despite it being billed as an adventure, is nothing more than a shooting gallery featuring static and animated targets as well as a some talent dressed as mummies trying to dodge your shots. I can’t say that we didn’t have fun shooting at stuff, but I also can’t say we got $10 worth of fun.
Another up charge attraction, at a $5 admission price, is the Side Show of Freaks and Oddities, featuring the Side Show Bar and stage. This is basically a lounge and entertainment area, featuring a small stage that has rotating acts throughout the night, 2 mini mazes houses in shipping containers, and tarot card readers. This might be a good place to sit down and rest a bit while enjoying some refreshments, if it wasn’t a $5 admission. Save your money on this one and take advantage of the bar and lounge areas on the midway.
Back to the mazes, we headed next to the Voodoo Village. We were super impressed by this maze design and its talent. As you venture through dank swamps and catacombs, the Voodoo Priestess and her followers are looking for new sacrifices. I have to admit, the talent in the maze got good scares out of me and I’m not easy to scare. Great sets. Great talent. Great maze.
Circus has been almost completely redesigned for this year, adding in some big set pieces and new gags. Unfortunately these additions made for a much less enjoyable experience than last year. 2 of the new additions are a spinning tunnel and a ball pit. Yes I said a ball pit…one that you have to climb over a small wall and wade through to proceed. These additions were really bold ideas, and I can completely understand where the designers were going with it, however it really only served to slow the pace of traffic to a crawl so most of our time was spent standing in the maze, waiting to move forward in line. Also it should be noted, that anyone in a wheelchair or with mobility issues would have to bypass these rooms, which are a large percentage of the maze. The Queen Mary was built long before laws for handicap access existed, so when the mazes on the ship require walking up and down stairs or through paths that might not be as handicap friendly, it is somewhat understandable. This maze however is not house on the ship, and still was designed to be limiting to anyone with mobility issues, and I for one feel that is a big misstep. Skip this one unless you are really into ball pits.
We’ve saved the newest and best for last. Lullaby replaces last year’s ‘Submerged’ by focusing in on one of that maze’s main characters, Scary Mary. Having drowned on the ship, Mary has been rumored to have haunted the pool of the ship for decades. In this maze, she wants nothing more than to keep you aboard the ship forever as her new friend. Mary is featured in nearly every scene in this maze, seemingly appearing ahead of you over and over with no indication of how she is in every room – very impressive. The design, story, and casting of this maze is top notch. Our group enjoyed it so much that we went through several times. Be sure to check this one out and let yourself play with Mary, if you are brave.
It should be noted that we took advantage of the Fast Fright Pass, which allows you to skip most off the lines for the mazes and attractions. This is a must have for this event in our opinion as the lines get unbelievably long. These passes are well worth the prices to be able to see all the mazes as many times as you like.
Dark Harbor is well worth the price of admission. Be sure to check out the slider show on the midway and the entertainment throughout the park. Dark Harbor is open on selected dates throughout October and offers several VIP ticketing and hotel packages as well as special events throughout the Season. Be sure to check out their website for more details.