Friday, September 29, 2017

Opening Night at The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor 2017

The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor

Last night I attended opening night of The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor 2017 (full disclosure: I was invited to attend the media preview before general admission). I had never been to Dark Harbor before, so I was excited to check it out! I had heard many good things about Dark Harbor and I was really intrigued by the numerous mazes they had aboard the ship, along with the other carnival-style areas and other mazes throughout the grounds by The Queen Mary. The Queen Mary is legendary already and full of ghost stories, and I can't think of a more perfect venue for a haunt! I couldn't wait to go aboard and visit all the spirits. I'll walk you through my night below!

Dark Harbor entrance

Black carpet - I swear I was more excited than I look! Lipstick was Selene

Mister Spooky and I arrived to The Queen Mary, walked the black carpet, and proceeded to the entrance of Dark Harbor. The Captain, Ringmaster, and the new Chef greeted visitors and welcomed us to the event before opening the gates and unleashing Dark Harbor's monsters and madmen upon us! 

Chef, Ringmaster, and The Captain welcoming their victims to Dark Harbor

 The "Monster Run" after they opened the gates! This guy was incredible!

Ghouls greeting guests

We fought our way through the monsters into the event and headed for the RIP Lounge, following the siren call of all-you-can-eat tacos (RIP Lounge is included in the VIP ticket and Ultimate Scream packages). Mister Spooky waited in a looooong line while I wandered around (for veg options, they had veggies and refried beans, but these weren't worth standing in line for). After about a 20 minute wait and eating, we left the lounge and headed to check out the rest of the event.

 RIP Lounge

Graceful Gale

View of Dark Harbor from the RIP Lounge deck

Shots (sadly they all had cream so I didn't partake)

We walked off the ship to the ground area of the event, checked out Slider Alley, got spooked by some wandering ghouls, wandered around the Fire Stage and Big Top, admired the Creepy Cabanas and Neverland Ranch Swings (yes, swings from that Neverland Ranch!), scoped out the food options (fries and tots were the veg options, meh), then headed to the mazes!

The most adorable food stand! Wish they had vegan options!

 Monsters during the "Monster Run" after they opened the gates!

Aren't they adorable?!

SPOILER ALERT: There will be maze descriptions below with possible spoilers, so please skip if you plan on going to Dark Harbor and would rather keep the scares a surprise!

A gory display at Dark Harbor

We checked out the new FEAST maze first, featuring the new character Chef. This maze was on the ship, so after going through a dizzying queue and multiple stairways to get there, we entered. It was creepy right off the bat since there was no one else around (everyone else was still waiting for tacos, haha), and since the maze is part of the ship you can't really tell when the maze begins. This maze had us slipping through tight spaces, and I even had to crawl through a very small space built to look like the inside of an oven. We also went through freezers, creepy hallways, dining rooms, and kitchens, all the while avoiding the cannibalistic restaurant staff. Some parts of the maze were really dark and hard to find our way out, but the maze itself was really long and fun!

Entrance to DEADRISE

The Captain in DEADRISE

Next we checked out DEADRISE, set aboard an old warship that is filled with spirits and ghouls of sailors. This maze was so much fun, we followed two ladies in who were spooked easily (but having a fun time with it), so it was fun to watch the scare actors hound them! There were lots of fantastic scare actors in this maze, and you may also run into the Captain in this maze, so beware! It also has one of the best "last scares" of all time! Another warning: you will get wet in this maze!

Entrance to the Creepy Cabanas and aerial stage - loved the skeletons!

LULLABY entrance

We reboarded the ship to checked out LULLABY, based on one of the true legends about a child ghost on The Queen Mary. This maze took us into the depths of the ship, where we were menaced by Scary Mary, the youngest Dark Harbor spirit. Again, I was impressed just how long this maze was and how many stairs and narrow hallways we walked down. I really enjoyed the Scary Mary character and wanted to stay and play with her forever and ever.

The Neverland Ranch Swings with Queen Mary in the background

Creepy clown that scared the bejeezus out of me at one of the cool displays
they had set up around the event! He was fantastic!

Next was B340, which was also on the ship. This one took a little bit of time to get to since they were only along one group at a time to go through for the full experience. We finally got to go through and the wait was well worth it! This was one of my favorite mazes, the premise being you are taking a peek into the mind of the madman Samuel the Savage! I loved the part where we had to go through this tangled forest and a scare actor would pop out from between the branches - it was creepy and effective. There was also a part where you walk on a catwalk over the bowels of a ship that is frightening in itself, but then you get a little jolt as the catwalk actually shakes! I almost had a heart attack!

Neat displays right outside the Dark Harbor entrance

Another display outside the entrance gates

The last maze aboard the ship was SOULMATE, which tells the tale of Graceful Gale and her everlasting quest for a soulmate. The Graceful Gale character is beautiful and I loved the rooms where she was featured. This one also included lots of ups and downs on stairs, though I felt it was a little lacking in scare actors. There were several long halls we had to walk down where I felt a scare could have occurred but didn't. Still, it was a cool maze and we got to see some neat parts of the ship.

Just hanging around Dark Harbor

Entrance to CIRCUS

We joined the CIRCUS next, and I loved the premise of this one as I think there are multiple paths you can take through this maze. We unfortunately got stuck in the mirror maze portion for more than I would have liked, and did not find the secret bar (I think we should have gone back and asked Zoltar). This maze was more frustrating than fun, but I did like the costumes the scare actors wore and the theme.

Property of the Iron Master

The last maze we did (and almost missed since it was near the front entrance) was INTREPID, where you experience the legend of the Iron Master (and annoying train horn) and a Scottish ship yard. I'm not sure what the theme of this one was all about, other than it was Scottish and there were scare actors in kilts (I'm not complaining!). By the time we got to this maze, the gates had opened for general admission so we got to experience standing in the front-of-line queue and going through the maze with a group. This one was fun and I loved the castle interiors, though one part set in the highlands the fog was so thick it was hard to see where to walk (but those bog monsters showed us the way...).

 Hello, I adore you!

Entrance to Slider Alley

The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor was so much spooktacular fun, I couldn't believe I hadn't attended before! I really, really loved all the scare actors - they were all fantastic and playful! The mazes themselves were good, I was surprised just how long they lasted! I really enjoyed being able to see different (creepy) parts of the ship as we walked through the mazes as well. The maze lines did fill up fast after the event opened to the public at 8PM, so I suggest upgrading to a Fast Fright ticket for priority entry to mazes or splurging and getting VIP tickets that include front of line as well as access to the RIP Lounge, plus more perks, or even the exclusive Ultimate SCREAM Experience, where you have private tour guide for the night and unlimited front-of-line to mazes!

 She was so adorable!

Rested for a bit in the Creepy Cabanas - they have comfy couches, you can
order bottle service, and you have a cool overview of the event!

I enjoyed the mazes, but the only small issue I noticed was that sometimes it was hard to see where to go within the maze, which led to several wrong turns throughout the night. We found our way through (obviously we aren't still haunting the halls of The Queen Mary), but I think they should put some arrows or other indication on the floor or walls kinda pointing you in the right direction.

Until next time, Dark Harbor! Thanks for the screams!

Outside the mazes, I liked how everything was laid out on the ground and it never seemed over-crowded. There were a variety of food places (though there are not many vegan options, by the way). The wandering scare actors were, again, AMAZING and I pretty much just wanted to follow them around all night long. They also had some really neat entertainment on the main stage, the aerial stage, and throughout the event.

I had a fun time at Dark Harbor, and hope you get to experience it for yourself this year!

You can find out more and buy tickets on The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor site!

Stay spooky!

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