Everybody has heard how scary Dark Harbor is. When the creative genius of Hollywood designers and makeup artists get to create a horror zone in and around the Queen Mary, one of the world’s ten most haunted places, the results are terrifying. Every long, dark hallway could have a costumed character waiting to jump out at you and the spooky vignettes create a true sense of malaise. Besides that spine tingling sense of impending dread or the jolt of sudden terror, why should you visit Dark Harbor in Long Beach Harbor, California this year?
(1) Stunning Visual Effects
Dark Harbor raids Hollywood to get the best visual artists with a flair for the macabre. The created seven mazes out of the depths of their imaginations. In Circus, scary clowns and beastly freaks lurk in a replica funhouse complete with mirror mazes, ball pits, and spinning hallways. Intrepid tells the story of the Iron Master who built the Queen Mary and is out to reclaim it. You see his minions casting the steel for the ship and getting baked alive in the scorching pig iron. Soulmate takes place on the Queen Mary, where you meet Gale, who haunts the ship looking for her suitor. Of course, she isn’t happy with simply finding a man. Her servants are butchering guests and building her the perfect man out of their parts.
(2) The Haunted History of the Queen Mary
Time Magazine ranks Queen Mary as on the ten most haunted places and it’s easy to see why ghost hunters and paranormal tours routines seek this place out. In her fifty years of service, the Queen Mary has seen her share of tragedies. Dark Harbor uses these real life hauntings as inspiration for their mazes. The aforementioned Soulmate is based on the Woman in White haunting. Lullaby is based on a drowning that occurred on board and the maze travels past the actual pool where it occurred. Deadrise is an immersive experience that recreates the accident where Queen Mary plowed through an escort ship and was unable to offer assistance because she was being pursued by German U-boats. B340 is based on a serial killer on board the ship. The real room B340 on board the Queen Mary has had so much paranormal activity that they refuse to rent it. They even removed the marker, but it’s easy to guess which room is between B338 and B342. The Queen Mary even has its own ghosts and legends tour.
(3) Mazes on Board of the Queen Mary
Four of the total seven mazes take place on board the Queen Mary: Lullaby, Soulmate, B340, and Feast. As you can imagine, a historic cruise ship lends a certain element of terror to Dark Harbor. Perhaps the best example of this is 2017’s new maze – Feast. Feast isn’t based on any real life occurrences of cannibalism (although the Queen Mary was in the English Navy, just saying). What makes is special is that you walk through an actual ship kitchen and galley. It looks real because it is real, other than the human bodies being turned into food.
(4) Amazing Performances
Several stages host nearly continual performances from a series of talented artists. On one stage, a silk artist in full makeup performs her routine. On another, a troupe of fire spinners entertains the crowd. What you want don’t want to miss is Slider Alley. Sliders have flint lined pads that spark as the slide across pavement. You’ll see them working the crowd throughout the night but they all come together for a choreographed show. They spark, slide, and hop through a series of tricks that will leave you entertained and amazed.
(5) It’s Not a Kiddie Show
Kids are allowed to enter but they aren’t the only customers. This isn’t another “not scary” event. The freight is real but also it’s designed with a more sophisticated horror pallet in mind. It’s the sort of place where late teens and twenty somethings wouldn’t be afraid to take date or group of friends to.
If you think of Dark Harbor like a really cool Halloween themed bar and you’d be right. Dark Harbor features several themed bar experiences, a Tequila Tasting Room and the VIP Lounge, and many walk up bars and queue line bars. On top of that, costumed servers patrol the grounds offering you shots. Our favorites were the Meat Locker, an ice bar with frozen body parts worked into the decor. Another genius of alcohol distribution is utilizing an actual bar on the Queen Mary in the middle of the Feast to serve alcohol mid maze.
(7) VIP Experiences
We highly recommend getting a Fast Fright upgrade so you can spend more time in the mazes and less time in line. You can also go all the way to VIP if you want. The VIP ticket includes special entry lines, Fast Fright Pass, and the RIP Lounge. What is the RIP Lounge? It’s a first class bar aboard the Queen Mary that gives a bird’s eye view of the event. What’s more? You get two complimentary cocktails and an all-you-can-eat taco bar.
What to Know When You Go
If you’re still reading this, then you know why Dark Harbor is special but not here are the nuts and bolts. Dark Harbor only runs until November 1 and the sooner you go, the less the tickets will cost. Since the event pricing changes make sure you check the Dark Harbor website to plan your visit. Parking is at event pricing so consider carpooling, ride sharing or staying at the Queen Mary. You’ll save a little cash and be able to drink responsibly. For pricing, hours, and all upgrades, including staying at the Queen Mary, check out the Dark Harbor FAQ link.
Photo credit – Title picture, performer with nail, Captain Pin and Performer and swings pin courtesy of The Ace Agency with credits in caption. All other photos from Jenn Coleman of Coleman Concierge.
Disclaimer: Although our experience was complimentary, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own.