Our review of Queen Marys Dark Harbor:
Every Halloween season the Queen Mary transforms from an old school tourist trap into a completely insane set of mazes. They take advantage of what comes naturally to the space - creepiness. The rundown, creepy environment perfectly complements the 7 immersive mazes throughout its vast property.
To start off with a gripe: a few years ago they cleaned house with some of the creative designers and technical directors. Since then they still haven’t caught up to how great the production once was. Long gone is the spooky entrance that was once a riveting set-up of smoke, lights, and characters as it has been replaced by vendors. Additionally, the “wristband” they try to make your group wear is exclusively for purchasing a group photo at the end of the night. Worth passing on as the whole debacle just waste everyones time.
There are four haunts on land - two are located in the Dome (Circus Big Top Terror and Intrepid), and two stand alone, Deadrise and Sideshow. However, it’s worth noting that the train sound which causes the vibration in the floor during the intro of Intrepid is amazing, but it quickly devolves into a steampunk hell hole. Deadrise, which is the one in the middle of the grounds, is an improvement on what was there last year. It feels tighter with better lighting and placement of its characters. Sideshow’s white-out room blinded you as if it was pitch black with white lights, white smoke, white walls and white monsters, pretty cool.
For unknown reasons they are missing what has always been a highlight: Village Of The Damned, the maze that took place within that old shopping complex near the entrance. That was always a fun, scary one with great production value but alas it has been replaced by another vendor: a bar. Now the only fright that remains is when you see your tab at the end of the night. Now to the highlight: The Queen Mary herself. There are 3 mazes (Soulmate, B340, and Lullaby) in the same locations as years past. Soulmate takes place down in the engine room giving a chilly feeling throughout the maze. I’m into the haunted nautical vibe, it’s a must have, with it being on a ship and all. B340 was again great and incorporates a lot of the same props from last year but with an upgrade. This one is always a highlight as it brings you into the guts of the boat including the boiler room. While I don’t want to spoil too much for you, I can say that this one lacked a few of the mechanics from last year but I’m happy to hint that the boiler room “drop” is working again. Lullaby was easily our favorite this year. Scary Mary is now the official mascot of this maze and the lighting and art direction in all of the rooms were really great, containing lots of water and dead children. The characters were timed really well and were doing great considering how over-trafficked with drunk people this maze was. My only critique is that I wish they would do more with the pool room (e.g. the previous team would at least fill it with smoke). I highly suggest that you get to the Queen Mary early in order to avoid really long waits. Like Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, the Queen Mary is completely packed every single night. If you are pressed for time, I would suggest steering clear of any inland haunts and just going straight to the boat as the Queen Mary herself is far more superior to everything else on land. The ship’s environment is so creepy that it lends itself easily to these three extremely unique and spooky haunts. It is definitely worth a visit as they have become an institution for southern California Halloween culture rivaling their competitors Universal and Knotts.
What did you think?
JD /// HAUNTSOFLA.COM /// OCTOBER 12, 2016