The Halloween season is upon us! And Los Angeles is packed with dozens upon dozens of fun festive things to do during the month of October, my absolute most favorite month of the year. From fall festivals, to street parties, to haunted theme parks, there is sure to be something for everyone, whether you are a thrill-seeker or a scaredy-cat. I fall into the latter category. I hate horror movies and can’t stand being scared or startled. But yet this year I decided to be brave and check out the Queen Mary’s ‘Dark Harbor.’
The Queen Mary is considered (by some paranormal experts) to be the most haunted place in the whole world. A brief look into the history of the ship will make it easy to see why. During its years as a passenger cruise ship and as a WWII transport ship, hundreds of people died or were murdered on board. Seriously…if you are interested in history or ghost stories, delving into the things that happened on the Queen Mary will take hours. And while the ship is cool to visit during any time of the year, there is just something so wonderfully fitting about visiting a real (if you believe that kind of stuff) haunted place for Halloween. The ship offers paranormal tours year round, such as the Ghosts and Legends Tour and the Haunted Encounters Tour, but during the month of October they transform a portion of the ship and surrounding grounds into Dark Harbor, a playground of fear and terror.
I won’t get into too many details about the spooky fun at Dark Harbor cause I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but instead I will offer a few pointers for how to make your visit more enjoyable.
First of all, parking for the event was an absolute nightmare. We arrived maybe an hour after opening, and the general parking lot was already full. The parking staff was redirecting cars across the harbor to park at a local gym, and then ride a shuttle back to the Queen Mary. But they still made people pay the same parking rate as parking at the ship ($20). Not cool. Oh, and they only tell you this after you have just sat through about 30 min of traffic trying to enter the parking lot. We opted to pay more money and use the VIP lot. Worth it. The parking at the gym/shuttle option would’ve taken around an hour, and that just wastes time that could be spent in Dark Harbor. Also, metered parking within Long Beach ends at 9, so you can totally just park on the street for free and take Uber to the Queen Mary. Some of my friends did that and it saved them tons of money.
Security at Dark Harbor is strict. Be prepared for a bag check and a thorough pat-down. They don’t allow anything inside that can even possibly be used as a weapon or cause destruction (pens, pencils, chewing gum, sharp objects…). I recommend bringing as little with you as possible.
Dark Harbor had a creepy carnival theme this year, and it looked awesome! Tons of food vendors, performances, and this swing ride brought in from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch (for real). And as you stroll through the Halloween festival atmosphere, scary ghosts and zombies walk among you, waiting to scare you when you least expect it.
Sadly the ride and most of the performances cost an additional fee, so we didn’t do any of them. Spending $5 to ride a carnival ride just seemed a little ridiculous to me.
The general admission does include entry to the 6 scary mazes though. We decided to try out the “B340” maze, which was located on the actual ship and based on a true Queen Mary horror story. Long story short, this particular stateroom on the Queen Mary is so haunted (as to what caused the haunting, tales differ), they had to shut off the room and stop renting it out, because no guest could ever make it through the night in the room. Creepy.
The wait time said 50 min, but what that actually meant was an hour and a half. It was hot, stuffy, and by the end of the line, fairly miserable. Needless to say, we ended up only doing this one maze cause by this point we were running out of time. If you are really into scary mazes, I would recommend perhaps buying a VIP ticket or a front-of-the-line pass so you can get to each maze faster. This picture is of only a small portion of the line we had to wait through:
But at least they were thoughtful enough to provide a snack and beverage cart mid-line!
I didn’t take any photos of the maze itself. I was too busy trying to survive. Which is why I most definitely deserved this bag of kettle corn post maze.
The group of brave souls I was able to recruit to protect me during Dark Harbor…I love these people.
DJs played music throughout the evening, and there were bars, shows, a hookah lounge, and lots of food options to keep you busy if you opt out of the mazes.
Dark Harbor seemed to attract a rowdy crowd. During our couple hours we spent there we saw 2 fist fights break out (one of which was in line for the maze…stupid people) and like 3 different people get arrested. So be prepared to be among some sketchy riff raff. And definitely leave the young kids at home.
Overall though, I really enjoyed this event. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be (except for the maze part) and just felt like a fun Halloween festival! I would definitely go back next year. But maybe just be a little better prepared.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Dark Harbor at the Queen Mary website!