Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor haunted event has returned for 2012. This year’s Dark Harbor sees one new maze featuring zombies from the deep, new main story characters, and  as an optional “R.I.P.” experience for an up-charge. Last year, the Dark Harbor was taken over by an alluring demoness known as Bundarra. This year, the ghosts of the R.M.S. Queen Mary have returned to take it back. The main characters can be found in both the mazes as well as walking about. All are actors and able to interact with the crowd. They do a very good job of staying in character and thinking quickly on their feet when asked off-the-wall things by guests.

Most of the mazes at the event have not changed much since last year. However, the park has a new maze called “Deadrise” which features a burnt out ship hull and a crew of ghoulish sailors. The maze was interesting, with lots jagged metal set pieces. The ship hull is also very impressive from the maze entrance, with fire rushing up from its smokestack. The only feedback I would give its monsters is that they are a little too reliant on banging pipes against the metal objects. Upon exiting the maze, our ears were actually ringing. “The Cage” also returns much to my dismay – the maze always gives me a bad taste in my mouth as we pushed our way through other guests, all lost in which way to go. I hope that the Dark Harbor event changes out this one for next year’s event.

Thankfully, the mazes onboard the Queen Mary herself are still very effective and scary. In an interesting anecdote, we had to evacuate one of them as a fire alarm sounded. Some of the other guests thought it was just part of the experience but maze monsters and staff were very courteous and efficient at clearing everyone out. Thankfully, it turned out to be a false alarm. Overall, the shipboard mazes are still the scariest of the event. The sets are creepy as can be and the monsters are all good at staying in character. I would highly recommend that guests be sure not to miss them.

The “R.I.P.” program is an up-charge experience where guests can enjoy the R.I.P. Lounge during the night (with food and 4 drink tickets) as well as get fast-lane access to all the mazes. The lounge served us some tasty beef or chicken street tacos and the bar was adequately-stocked. I am not sure if I would recommend the $99 dollar experience unless you were planning to attend on a busier night like on a Friday or Saturday. On the night we attended – which, admittedly, was during the first weekend of their event, was very lowly-populated. Additionally, Dark Harbor still has a great bar and stage area set up and is definitely a focal point of the event. The band that played while we were in attendance were simply “rocking” and the bar area was a great place to hang out and chat with friends before entering the mazes.

Overall, the 2012 Queen Mary Dark Harbor haunted event is a fun, albeit spotty, haunted experience – especially for the 21 and over crowd looking to hang with friends, watch some live bands, drink, and go into some haunted mazes. For younger crowds or those looking for a more solid haunted event at the expense of the live music and alcohol, I would recommend they look elsewhere this year.

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Jerry Paxton

A long-time fan and reveler of all things Geek, I am also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of GamingShogun.com