The Haunted Queen Mary's Halloween Horrors
Hollywood Gothique Says:
Shaqtoberfest is the latest in a decades-long series of Halloween events presented on or near the Queen Mary. At its best the luxury-cruise-ship-turned-hotel has provided Halloween entertainment on par with L.A.’s major theme parks, featuring elaborate mazes, scare zones, live entertainment, and plenty of options for food and drink. Throughout its various iterations, the star of the show has always been the Queen Mary herself, the haunted history within her enormous hull providing a special brand of authentic atmosphere that cannot be simulated at any fabricated attraction.
Queen Mary’s longest running haunt, the Halloween Terrorfest, in particular, relied on the ship’s long dark corridors to compensate for any deficiencies in production values. Later, Dark Harbor managed to enhance the mazes on land, crating an even better event. Shaqtoberfest is entirely land-bound, while repairs on the ship are still in progress, its approach geared more toward a fun style of Halloween haunting. Learn more here.
Queen Mary Shaqtoberfest
1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, CA 90802
2023 Dates: Thursday through Sunday starting September 28 and running throughout October, plus October 18, 25, 30 & 31.
Hours: 8pm to midnight except for October 14, 21, and 28 when the park closes at 1am. Plus, Trick or Treat Part for kids on Sundays, October 15, 22 & 29, 6-8pm.
Tickets: start at $29.99 with higher prices for peak nights, Fast Break, and VIP.
2023 Update: Having launched in 2022, Shaqtoberfest returns for Halloween 2023 with many of its attractions intact, plus two new ones aboard the recently reopened Queen Mary.
Queen Mary Halloween Articles
Learn more about the Queen Mary Halloween events, past and present:
Queen Mary Halloween History:
Although the Queen Mary is, technically, not a theme park, its annual October event is one of the largest, dankest, and most ominous ways to enjoy Halloween in Los Angeles, one that deserves to be categorized along with haunted attractions like Knott’s Scary Farm and Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. A prime feature any Halloween event at the Queen Mary is the ship herself, its long spooky corridors (many of them allegedly haunted) providing an authentic atmosphere that no other Halloween event in Los Angeles can match.
The best Halloween event at the Queen Mary was Dark Harbor, which typically included a half-dozen walk-through attractions, evenly divided between those on land and those on board the ship. There is also live entertainment, food, and usually a few small rides (mechanical bull, merry-go-round, etc.). Guests with VIP tickets can imbibe beverages at the RIP lounge, situated above Dark Harbor, with a bird’s eye view upon the chaos below.
In addition to the mazes, there were free-roaming ghouls near Hell’s Bell Tower (a ship smokestack belching flame). For an additional fee, you can view Freak Shows, a rogue’s gallery of ghouls for a small up-charge. Essentially, these are short mini-mazes, which you enter in small groups (just you and your friends) to experience a handful of scares aimed directly at you.
Dark Harbor was not the first attempt to fashion a Halloween attraction aboard the Queen Mary. Back when the Spruce Goose was still nestled in the dome next to the ship, the Queen Mary tried a Halloween Party night. Approaching the old-fashioned, faux fishing village through the artificial fog was an eerie experience, but the party itself was mostly just disco dance nonsense, along with a mild-mannered guided tour below decks.
Having learned from that long-ago mistake, in 1995 Shipwreck productions tried its hand at turning the venerable sailing vessel-cum-hotel-and-tourist-attraction into a Knott’s Scary Farm-type Halloween event, called the Halloween TerrorFest. Since the bowels of the ship are spooky in their own right, and since there are one or two allegedly authentic ghost stories associated with the vessel, the setting was perfect, and it’s been going strong every since. In 2009, new management took over the haunt, rebranding it as “Shipwreck Halloween located at the Haunted Queen Mary.”
In 2010, the Queen Mary launched Dark Harbor, a completely revamped haunt, with a new theme. The premise was that a trio of she-demons, each with her own realm of horror, will take over the ship and ensnare guests in a particular lair; expect some new characters to make appearances. The plan was to create an immersive environment that included not only the ship itself but also the surrounding harbor, with a bar and a stage featuring live entertainment. The long-term goal – to use 2010 as a launching pad for a Halloween event that would grow to rival Knotts Scary Farm and Halloween Horror Nights – continued in 2011, with the Dark Harbor adding some new monsters and effects but not expanding the number of mazes.
In 2012, Dark Harbor began exploiting the Queen Mary’s allegedly haunted history, offering frights and characters based on legends of ghosts and hauntings. Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, the aura of authenticity lent an extra layer of unease to one of the most atmospheric Halloween haunts in Los Angeles, with such characters as Graceful Gale, Scary Mary, Half-Hatch Harry, and the Captain. How the Circus Ringmaster figures into this was anyone’s guess!
Halloween 2019 introduced a new maze, Rogue, which repurposed the DeadRise setting to portray a ship capsized by a rogue tidal wave. As in 2018, there were hidden bars in some of the mazes, where visitors could stop for a drink, along with the usual bars.
The Queen Mary went dark for Halloween 2020 because of the pandemic lockdown. During that time, inspections revealed that the ship was badly in need of expensive repairs, which prevented Dark Harbor from returning in 2021.
In 2022, a new event was launched on the premises (though not on the ship), called Shaqtoberfest.
Queen Mary Halloween Videos
Queen Mary Halloween Events of the Past
Curious what you missed?
- The Haunted Queen Mary Shipwreck Halloween: Click here.
- The Queen Mary Halloween TerrorFest: Click here.