The Queen Mary in Long Beach is a must see tourist attraction pretty much any time of year, hearkening back to a day when massive ocean liners were king and a vital form of transportation instead of floating cities rife with crime and various stomach diseases. Of course, in addition to the opulence, the ship has its dark sides. It was called into service to ferry soldiers during World War II, and like any hotel, it lost a handful of guests and crew over the years. The ship has a reputation for being one of America’s most haunted places, and while we’ve never actually seen anything to confirm or deny this reputation (despite having taken its ghost tour that you can attend any time of year), I have an easy time seeing the ship as a creepy place. There’s something about the 1940’s aesthetics combined with the complete and utter blackness that you can only really find in the deep, iron hulk of a ship that just makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.
So, naturally, this is the perfect place for a haunt.
Dark Harbor is one of the standout haunts in Southern California, and one of the main reasons for it is how little they half-ass the experience. They could have just put one haunted house in (or by) the ship, vaguely themed it to something retro or ship-based and called it a day, enjoying the extra money they make on top of being a tourist destination and active hotel, but no. Dark Harbor sets itself up as an event to rival even the theme park attractions nearby, with six mazes, a carnival of terrors atmosphere, and numerous other attractions. Now I’ll admit, they clearly don’t have the room or budget to pull off a lot of what the major theme parks do, you won’t find makeup and sets on the level of what you’ll find at Universal Studios or Knott’s Berry Farm, but what you will find is enthusiasm. Year in and out the scareactors here are arguably the scariest I’ve seen at any Halloween event, charging, following, taking advantage of the darkness and coaxing out any screams you might be hiding away.
So, did this year live up to the high bar set by past years? Well, Fiona and I with our dear friend Ashley got a few front of the line tickets and went to find out.
As well, and I cannot stress this enough, front of the line passes are essential. With lines that can get up to 2 or 3 hours long, the front of the line passes are the only way to see every maze.