Halloween Horror on the High Seas
Hollywood Gothique Says:
Though not a theme park, the Queen Mary Dark Harbor offers as much Halloween horror as Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest, the Knotts Berry Farm Halloween Haunt, and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood. There are mazes, scare zones, live entertainment, and plenty of options for food and drink, but the star of the show is the Queen Mary herself, whose long dark corridors guarantee a special brand of authentic atmosphere that cannot be simulated. The mazes set on “Dark Harbor” the ship have trouble living up to those on board the Queen Mary, but they try to provide scares that won’t fit inside the ship’s corridors.
Queen Mary Dark Harbor
The Queen Mary
1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, CA 90802
2019 Dates: September 26-29; October 3-6, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27, 31; November 1-2.
2019 Hours: 7pm-1am Fridays & Saturdays; 7pm-midnight all other days.
2019 Mazes: Rogue (new), Lullaby, Feast, Circus, B340, Intrepid. As in 2018, there will be hidden bars in some of the mazes, where visitors can stop for a drink.
2019 Attractions: Sinister Swings (ride), The Pyre (fire stage show), Slider Alley (scare zone), Aeiral Rings (ride), Haunted Hookah Lounge, DJ music, Monster Dance Party, PANIC: 4-D Experience (3D film with in-theatre effects), VIP Cocktails in the Rusty Nail Bar and Patio.
Tickets: Prices start at $20 in advance for early-entry "Happy Haunting Hour" tickets (must enter during first hour of operation). Pre-sale General Admission ranges from $34 to $44. There are additional options for Fast Fright, Evil Express, and the Ultimate Scream Experience. Add-on Options include RIP Passport Lounge, Cabanas, and Private Patios. There are also packages to book an overnight state aboard the Queen Mary.
Note: Dark Harbor tickets include admission to the Queen Mary from 4-8pm.
Read our Queen Mary Dark Harbor Archive.
Queen Mary Dark Harbor Overview:
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 of Dark Harbor is the Queen Mary 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 event typically includes 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 are 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.
Queen Mary Dark Harbor Drawbacks:
- There are no shows or rides (such as those availablet at other Halloween theme parks.
Queen Mary Dark Harbor General Information:
- Queen Mary's Dark Harbor Halloween attraction is not recommended for children under 13.
- The Queen Mary tends to enforce a strict dress code during Halloween, refusing admission to people wearing headbands, bandanas, spiked wristbands, etc.
- Costumes are generally not allowed. In the past, costumes have been allowed on Halloween Night only, as long as they did not include weaponry, such as guns, knives, swords, etc.
The Queen Mary usually charges $15-20 for parking.
Queen Mary Dark Harbor Hotel Packages
The Queen Mary - which is a hotel year round - offers hotel packages for Dark Harbor guests, including General Admission tickets, Fast Fright front-of-the-line passes, and a one-night stay aboard the Queen Mary.
Queen Mary Dark Harbor History:
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 a brand-new Halloween event: Dark Harbor, a completely revamped haunt, with a new theme. The premise is 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 will 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.
Since 2012, Dark Harbor as been 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 is anyone's guess!
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.