It's been a crazy, crazy month, and it's not over yet! Though things are winding down, we've still a few stops ahead that promise to be some of the most intense and unique of The Long Halloween. But first, for stop # 10, we have a classic that's been a part of The Long Halloween since the beginning.
Top it off with a fun, albeit fairly adult, environment (despite the number of children you're bound to see here, this is a very intense, very adult event), and this is a serious contender with Universal Studios for best multi-haunt Halloween experience in Southern California.
So, with our front of the line tickets in hand, and my best friend from middle and high school, Ashley, along for the ride with us, Fi and I rode for Dark Harbor looking forward to the good times we knew would be there.
Long Halloween Tip # 15: Queen Mary's Dark Harbor has some of the strictest security of any Halloween event I've ever attended, including pat-downs. Save yourself some hassle and avoid having anything confiscated by leaving anything, no matter how innocuous, that might be considered a weapon at home, as well as anything that could be construed as a gang color. Or selfie sticks. They were really hating on selfie sticks this year.
After a brief opening ceremony where the Queen Mary's ghostly Captain heckled the crowd and threatened to unleash the monsters on us, the front gates were opened and, well, we ran a gauntlet of monsters. After a little bit of zig-zagging and tight quarters in the town-like setup leading to the Queen Mary, things will widen up into a carnival-like atmosphere. There are dozens of food vendors, odds and ends bars, a performance stage, an upcharge paintball experience (which we did not have the time for by the end of the night), and an honest to god carnival swing set that they've rented from Neverland Ranch, for an extra creepy vibe. Monsters roam the darkness, and sliders will charge you at knee level, the scraping, screeching of their metal knee pads always getting good, reliable scares. Constantly looming over us is The Queen Mary herself, looking extra-ghostly by night (assuming you ignore the hotel guests on the top decks looking down at us and laughing), and making you wonder what terrors are held within.
But this is a Halloween event, and like any good Halloween event, there are mazes to be had! This year had six mazes (three on land, three within the bowels of the ship itself), as well as an upcharge Freak Show attraction that we knew we had to attend.
The Freak Show
This year, however, I think they came up with an attraction that was the best of both worlds, with part maze, part fun attractions, and yes, this year even a real bona fide freak show of sorts.
They start out by introducing you to Sparky, a charred skeleton who talks to and heckles you, and if you're good enough to banter, well, you can have a pretty fun time with him, though be warned, as there's a good chance he'll convince you to bang your head against the wall of a cargo container.
The freak shows themselves were more people with unique physical talents than actual physical deformities, and though they were fairly gross, or painful-looking, if you've got the stomach for them, they were truly impressive, and combine with an all around fun atmosphere to make the Freak Show my must-see event of Dark Harbor.
It was working quite well, thank you very much.
Still, the mazes have their fun. Soulmate, the story of Graceful Gail, a beautiful ghost woman setting out to make the perfect man from parts of many others, had its good moments, especially the rows of flayed bodies and skins hanging from the walls, as well as the jump scare hiding in their ballroom, but as one of the more sparsely populated mazes actorwise, this was easily the least scary of the night.
Thank you for joining me this Halloween season, and as always, please drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter! I'm big into liking/following back!
-- Matt Carter
(We know there's a lot of Matt Carter's online you could spend your time with, so thanks for hanging around this one!)