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Queen Mary Dark Harbor 2017 Review

Jason McDonald

Another week and another Halloween attraction has opened up.  While the ranking of Dark Harbor is up for debate, there’s no denying that the Queen Mary is the one of the best locations for a haunted attraction in the US. What better place to scare people than a supposedly haunted ship?

The Queen Mary may be one of my favorite Halloween attractions in California, but I’m starting to grow concerned with the freshness of the attractions featured at the park.  For instance, this year features one new maze out of seven.  Granted, some of the mazes have been given new features, but that’s still not an enticing proposition for people who may feel like they have had their fill of the returning mazes.  However, that being said, the intensity of the experience is still as visceral as ever.  Let’s take a look at what’s new this year.

Queen Mary 1

Feast

“Feast” is the new original maze for the year and features a brand new character for the event in the form a disfigured chef.  This maze takes you through the kitchen and cooking area of the Queen Mary and features a lot of great personality.  While the Chef character is a just a silent big menacing dude, the cast of characters in the maze are pretty great.  One in particular was a Gordon Ramsey-esque figure yelling obscenities at guests and other monsters because the humans were too raw.  The maze also features a unique physical feature like a section where you have to crawl through tiny tunnels.  “Feast” is one of the mazes that features a “secret bar;” however, this bar is not so secret as you find it as soon as you enter.  Overall, “Feast” is a fantastic addition to the Queen Mary and proof that,while the mazes have largely remained the same, they can still gin up some new horrors.

BARS

Bars and places to get booze seemed to be heavily emphasised this year.  There are plenty of standard bars located throughout the Queen Mary area and you usually don’t have  to wait in lines that are too long to get your drink.  However, what do you do when you’re standing in line and you want a drink?  Fear not, there are actually mini-bars in line that’ll allow you to buy drinks.  But what if you’re in a maze and need some liquid courage?  Well, two of the mazes actually feature a bar inside of them.  These are dubbed secret bars, but that’s half-accurate.  The bar in “Feast” is pretty easy to find as it’s the first big thing you run into.  The one in “Circus” is actually elusive though.  After going through it I still have no idea where the bar would be.  However, Circus is a bit whacky.  The entrance has several doors that can lead you to different areas like a ball pit that you might miss.  So I imagine that’s how the bar is hidden.

Queeny Mary Mazes

Returning Mazes

As far as returning mazes go, most of the ones I experienced this year were of the same quality as previous years.  Which is to say they’re terrifying as hell.  Out of all the haunted attractions I go to, no place terrifies me more than Dark Harbor.  The actors are all so deeply invested in their characters that they could be center pieces in their own mazes.  Whether it’s a preacher delivering an unsettling sermon about a dead child or a scottish maniac, every person in Dark Harbor is deeply invested in their performance and as a result it’s easy to believe you’re surrounded by potentially dangerous individuals. The only maze that was a bit of a let down this year was “Soulmate” as I only saw a few scares and the whole thing felt largely empty.  It could’ve been that I was just in at a bad time, so  I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

Either way, there are enough unique scares that’ll truly upset and terrify people and these are experiences you won’t find in other attractions.  Imagine a maze of mirrors where the confusing layout leaves you bumping into people and walls as panic starts to set in.  Or a room that is completely filled with fog, with no visible exit, and scare actors emerging from the ground to appear right in your face.  The Queen Mary is filled with amazing inventive scares that won’t be found in any other Halloween attraction in California.  It’s also one of the cheapest experiences for the amount of scares and quality you get.  If you can only attend one event this year, this is the one I would recommend. If you’re a veteran of the Queen Mary and need one more than one new attraction to draw you back, you might find this year a little lacking. However, if you’re up for revisiting the classics, they’re as good as ever.



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