Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor
Along with Six Flags Fright Fest and newcomer HorrorWorld, among others, Dark Harbor at the famous Queen Mary provides plenty of scares and spooky entertainment for the Halloween season. Mazes, hidden bars, stage acts and more fill the grounds in front of the Queen Mary, in addition to the three mazes that take guests through the bowels of the ship itself. Each of the mazes explores a distinct theme, and has spawned iconic characters like Samuel the Savage. Watch out for what lurks behind you!
In B340, guests pick up where a detective left off when he killed himself: hunting killer Samuel the Savage. Walking through a variety of gory and explicit crime scenes, guests explore this film noir mystery. B340 uses the ships narrow hallways and inner mechanics to scare up a sense of claustrophobia and darkness, and the scare actors had some very unsettling masks. The most adult maze of the bunch.
Secret Bar: The Line-Up with the Suicide
A circus theme always lends itself to great visuals, and this maze did not disappoint. With a focus more on scenes than a narrative, the Circus featured a mirror maze, a ball pit, several quick stage acts and various characters including the bearded lady. The Circus had fantastic sets and performers, and created a visually stunning yet unsettling experience that made it my favorite maze of the night.
Secret Bar: Sidebar with a sprinkle-covered Rumchata and Vodka shot
Deadrise was the most maze-like, with its multiple paths for guests to walk through. Reminiscent of bootcamp but on a haunted ship, Deadrise also uses some physical shocks like water and fireballs. This maze didn’t have many scares and was more military in theme; it only included one or two graphic images throughout its very twisty route. The finale of Deadrise was my favorite; guests are walked through a tunnel completely whited out with fog. But what hides within the fog?
Secret Bar: Door 13 with the S.S. Curacao
Guests enter Feast (also aboard the ship) being chastised for being late for work in the kitchen. The Chef is not pleased. The dead spaces between scenes created a lack of urgency, and were only saved by the inherently creepy vibe of the ship itself. Feast incorporated some gory scenes and made several guests crawl through the meat grinder before being shoved into the sweltering furnace. I think I might have been fired from my job in the ship’s kitchen…
Guests board the Intrepid, a train bound for the Highlands of Scotland. An incredibly unique maze, Intrepid showed guests through its distinct sets: a cemetery, a haunted chapel, and the disturbed crypts beneath. Intrepid is a supernatural and atmospheric maze; it doesn’t feature too much (if any) gore. The Iron Master is happy to greet guests after their snow-covered trip through the Highlands. The tamest of the mazes.
If children’s laughter and dolls are not your thing, steer clear of Lullaby. Scary Mary’s teddy bear is said to possess all who come in contact with it, Mary being one of its victims. Decrepit toys – dolls, mannequins, clapping monkeys – line the halls of Mary’s nursery, where the tormented girl asks visitors to play with her. Lullaby had many strong actresses, especially one version of Mary at the end of a green, fog-filled hallway. I don’t think I want to play anymore.
Not-So-Secret Bar: Séance Lounge with sweet Green Gummy Bear shots
Not a Fan of Mazes?
Dark Harbor has also brought back their 4-D experience, Panic, for a separate cost of $5/ticket. Given 3-D glasses, guests enter the theater and are treated to the intense nightmare of being chased around a haunted Queen Mary by various monsters. A few 4-D tricks make the experience more lively; the screams and laughs of fellow theatergoers add to the excitement.
In addition to the Sinister Swings ride ($5/person) and the last Secret Bar – Broken Compass which features all the specialty drinks from the others – Dark Harbor has a handful of things to do for those that don’t like the haunted mazes. Several stages spread throughout the event have free entertainment as varied as fire dancers, aerialists, magicians, tarot readings and musicians – in addition to the twice-nightly Sliders show. With upgraded tickets, guests can relax in private cabanas, taste several vodkas in the Ice Cave, enjoy a slight buzz at the Hookah Lounge, or purchase keepsakes at the Harbor Shop. Don’t forget to chow down at the Forge Grill (burgers), Poison Pizza, Mess Hall (comfort food), The Shack (soul food) or El Diablo (tacos). And cap your night off with some sweets from iScream or 3-Ring Concessions, which offers delights like cotton candy and crepes.
A Night of Frights
While all the mazes were the same as last year, new life was injected into a few of them by switching their locations, but the lines were still atrocious. Look into fast passes if they’re in your budget. The inclusion of the Secret Bars was fun, but can become costly when specialty drinks are so enticing. The number of bars also increases the likelihood of people getting drunk, and all the negatives that comes with that. Classic Dark Harbor characters – Scary Mary, The Captain, The Chef and The Ringmaster – were all accounted for and the unleashing of the monsters at the park’s opening is always a highlight. All in all, Dark Harbor is an enjoyable night spent amidst the monsters haunting your nightmares. Fear Lives Here, indeed.
For tickets and more info, check out Dark Harbor’s website.