The dark is coming, and so are the ghosts and goblins and everything that goes bump in the night. Welcome to The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, a haunted attraction at the famous ship that’s been around in its current iteration since 2010.
On September 28, there were plenty of people waiting for the chance to be scared at this year’s, Fear Lives Here. Jessica Belkin, from American Horror Story, loves the fake blood aspect of horror. She also talked about her fear of zippers: “Just the sound of them, skin being zipped up. I’m just always afraid of my skin being zipped up.” She went on to talk about why horror is so popular now: “I think people just really like getting scared, but knowing their okay.”
Modern Family‘s Alyssa de Boisblanc also talked about this. “I love just the feeling of being scared. When I was younger I hated that, I was like, ‘Oh I never go to these things.’ And then last year, ‘You know what, I’m going to try these, I’m gonna go to them now.’ Now I just love it, it’s my favorite thing ever, Halloween’s my favorite.” de Boisblanc said her fears involved crowds and social anxiety, and was super excited about the revamped Intrepid Maze.
Actor Jaheem Toombs, best known for 100 Things to Do Before High School, said, “I don’t necessarily like haunted houses. I like when I walk out of a haunted house, like, ‘Yeah, I just did that.’ You know, the validation: I walked through it, I was brave, even though I’ll probably be crying like a little baby most of the time. But I can tell everyone else that I did it and I was brave, you know?” As for the Dark Harbor, he said, “I’m looking forward to being scared. I have no idea what to expect and I’m going in pretty blind. I just heard it’s pretty scary, so I’m excited.”
Ava Cantrell, known from Young Sheldon and Lights Out, admitted she’s very new to the horror genre. However, her favorite part of going to attractions like this is, “it’s really fun to actually be there. You’re not just watching a horror movie; you’re actually experiencing it. That’s so fun.” She continued that she tends to like paranormal, “because that’s kind of the most real, you know? You feel like it’s the most real: people have experienced it. It’s not like a zombie thing where you know that’s not going to happen.”
Casey Burke, from The Middle, talked about her love of the more classic horror films such as The Shining. “I guess they’re just more classically scary rather than just the jump scares.” She went on to talk about what she was looking forward to at Dark Harbor: “I think what’s so unique about Dark Harbor is that the mazes are on the boat, and the boat’s already haunted so it doesn’t get cooler than that. So, I’m super excited.”
Meanwhile, Hunter Payton, best known from Criminal Minds, talked about his favorite horror movie trope. “Just the white guy who doesn’t know that he’s about to get killed, but he just walks into it anyways. Like, this dark creepy room: I’ll be fine.” He gave a laugh, and continued, “Yeah, no does not work.” He went on to say that his favorite part of haunted attractions was when they catch your blind spot. “I came here last year, and they had one where it was like a green grid that went all the way across so you couldn’t see below you, and they had people hiding underneath the grid. I was not ready for that, and I screamed. I love it when mazes do that.”
Dancer and musician Connor Finnerty said his favorite trope was, “where they ever split up, and then you think, ‘Why do you guys split? Stick together. This is a horror movie.’ But it always gets you so many times, and every time one thing happens to the other person and the other person’s fine. Or maybe when you think you see something outside that’s really creepy, at your window or something, but it’s actually like a tree branch.” He enjoyed haunted attractions for the mazes, but agreed that the Queen Mary was something more. “I just love going through the mazes, seeing all the cool things. Especially because the Queen Mary is known to be haunted, like actually haunted. But the thing about going to these things is they’re just so much fun, I like the spook and all that urge of feeling.”
This was my first time attending the Queen Mary: Dark Harbor, although I’ve taken their ‘normal’ haunted tour before. It was more than a haunted attraction: it was an extravaganza. There are six mazes, including two that take place on the ship itself. This doesn’t include the Panic 4D Experience, a theatrical walkthrough that is filled with onscreen and offscreen interactions. It also has two stages with entertainment such as fire stunts and aerial acts, and the roaming players that were everything from a skeleton DJ welcoming people into the park to those doing geek acts like putting a mousetrap on their tongue. They also have the “Sinister Swings”, a carnival ride form Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Finally, not only were there plenty of food options, but there were also several bars, including four new ‘secret’ bars. I caught the “Ice Cave”, held in a 9-degree icy chamber, and had the vodka tasting: I tried the root beer flavor and the whipped cream flavor, but there were several other options.
Clowns were big as a fear from those interviewed. In fact, when pressed, Burke said, “I wasn’t always: I don’t know what happened. When I started high school, I just suddenly saw a clown and I was like, ‘Oh my god, why do kids like this? No, stop. Get away from me.’ And then one Halloween we got chased by clowns with chainsaws and I think that just amped it up.” So of course, Dark Harbor: Fear Lives Here had a circus-themed maze, with lots of clowns, and was probably my favorite out of all the mazes. But all of the mazes were great: there were several times I was caught off guard, and even one time when I *knew* there was going to be a scare and they *still* got me. It was, without question, one of the best haunted attractions I’ve ever been to, and it is now in my things I will have to make sure to catch every year.
Queen Mary: Dark Harbor continues until November 2, with tickets starting at $20 online. If you are in or around the Los Angeles, I highly encourage you to check it out. For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit their official website.
Note: this article was also published on Contents May Vary. You can see more of Angie’s work and her social media connections over at her website.