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Queen Mary Dark Harbor 2018 Trip Report

Jason McDonald

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The Queen Mary is setting sail again for the 2018 Halloween season.  The Dark Harbor returns and with it comes all the crazy characters and disturbing mazes we’ve come to love.

For long time fans of Dark Harbor they’ll notice that this year doesn’t really feature anything brand new for the event.  In recent years we’ve seen the addition of new characters and mazes, but this year it seems they’ve focused on just changing up some of their current experiences.

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For 2018 we’re getting the return of “Feast”, “B340”, “Lullaby”, Deadrise”, “Circus”, and “Intrepid.”  If you’ve experienced these mazes in the past, then most of their theming has remained largely the same.  The one that had the most changes implemented appeared to be “B340.”  Previously this maze was themed after an insane asylum, but this year it’s home to a satanic cult and possible serial killer.  This new theming is a vast improvement over the old maze as it felt more unique than your typical asylum maze with lunatics running around.  The satanic cult twist gives it a darker edge that feels more in line with the rest of Dark Harbor’s mazes.

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As for the rest of the mazes I did notice that the layout in some of them has changed in order to give veteran Dark Harbor visitors the sensation of a new experience.  “Deadrise”, for example, has a lot more ways to get lost in it.  The monsters block your path and force you down different directions so you might wind up being isolated and completely lost from the other attendees.  It’s so chaotic and confusing that at times you don’t know if you’re in the right area or not.  I kept waiting for some security guard to yell at me and put me on the right track again.  It’s exhilarating in that way because it adds to your unease and keeps you off-balance for when the scares actually hit.

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Outside of the mazes Dark Harbor offers plenty of things for you to see and do.  There are a wide range of food vendors for you to choose from and a bar just around every corner.  In fact, there are bars inside of mazes and even in lines while you’re waiting.  You kind of get the feeling that there might be too many bars.  But if you’re worried about drunk idiots acting up there are plenty of cops and security guards wandering around making sure everyone is being cool.

Outside of eating and drinking you can also partake in hookah bars or take in one of the many performances constantly happening throughout the event.  Just about every section of Dark Harbor has a stage where you can watch a performer.  As I toured around I saw comedians, magicians, fire dancers, hula hoop dancers, and gymnastic acts.

There are also special attractions that you can pay a little extra for to get into.  Personally, I think the best thing to experience is the Panic 4-D attraction.  It’ll run you $5, but it’s a fun theatrical experience.  It’s like Terminator 3D or Shrek 4D where you’re experiencing a 3D movie and then also things are happening in the theater.   For example, in the movie you might see bugs crawling around and at the same time little papers are falling from the ceiling to make it feel like bugs are on you.  It’s goofy, but for five dollars it’s worth experiencing once.

Point is, there’s always something going on that’ll attract your attention. But of course even while you’re eating, drinking, or taking in the shows the monsters are roaming around waiting to surprise you.  There’s no safe haven at Dark Harbor.  Instead you’re completely immersed in a world of horror.

Dark Harbor delivers another year of some of the best scares in California.  My only concern is that going forward they may need to inject something new into the event to keep things fresh.  I’m not worried about it going stale anytime soon, but in order to keep people coming year after year they may need to shake things up with their mazes.  That being said this is still one of my favorite Halloween attractions in California and one I would recommend without hesitation.

For tickets and dates be sure to visit their site.

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