Apparently, GHOST SHIP – the sea-faring haunted attraction that set sail from Newport Beach in 2011 – will not return for this Halloween. Although no official announcement has been made, the official website is down, and the haunt’s Facebook page has also disappeared into the briny depths of Davy Jones’ locker. Perhaps many fans of Halloween horror in Los Angeles will not find this news devastating, but I admit to being disappointed.
I seem to be almost alone in having enjoyed GHOST SHIP, which made its maiden voyage in 2011, under the auspices of Ten Thirty One Productions (creators of the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride). Unfortunately, the event turned out to be something of a debacle, with guests more frightened by the ticket prices than by anything they encountered on board. Whether the criticisms were fully justified (and some were, frankly, wildly exaggerated), the Ghost Ship crew fueled the fire with their initially un-diplomatic reaction (accusing their accusers of being affiliated with rival haunts). Later attempts to balance the books (offering a free return trip to those disappointed the first time) were too little, too late.
After such a rocky launch, it is perhaps not surprising that Ghost Ship would not not sail again for Halloween 2012. And yet… there was great potential. In fact, the potential is, I think, what sunk the ship. With expectations expanded to the size of the Kraken – what would the creators of L.A. Haunted Hayride do when they had you trapped on a ship in the middle of the ocean? – that disappointment was perhaps inevitable. From a business angle, I don’t know what Ten Thirty One Productions could have done to navigate the treacherous shores better last year (although NOT attacking disappointed customers would have been a good start). I just wish the company had been able to learn from its mistakes and come back this Halloween with a new and improved version of Ghost Ship that would have realized the full potential of setting a haunt on the open seas.