The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Halloween attraction rises again from the Long Beach Harbor into the infamous haunted ship. Getting a chance to walk around with Creative Director J.J. Wickham was amazing, and I got to hear about the mazes from a person very passionate about the stories Dark Harbor shares. According to J.J. “In 2012 we introduced the true Queen Mary spirits to Dark Harbor. The spirits rose from the ships darkest corners and reclaimed Dark Harbor as their own, as they are the rightful and true spirits of the Queen Mary. Since we introduced these characters we’ve been enhancing who they are, discovering things about their stories and trying to create an individual maze for each character.” she said proudly “Last year we unveiled Graceful Gale’s maze, Soulmate and Samuel the Savage’s maze B340, so this year is Scary Mary’s year. Her maze is called Lullaby and we’re going to tell her story and about her dangerous spirit.”
“One of the things we are doing different in Dark Harbor this year is, because all the stories are original to Dark Harbor, not licensed to anyone else, we need to tell the stories so that guests understand what they are experiencing. Since they are not familiar stories, all of the mazes are starting out with a short pre-show that sets the tone of the maze, and tells a little bit of the story they are going to see. They get a small performance before they go into the maze, while they are waiting in line. In Lullaby for example, there is a priest over-seeing the wake for Scary Mary, he tells about her death and what she’s been up to in the afterlife. One of the things I love about Scary Mary’s story is that because she is our youngest spirit, she is easily influenced by all the other ghosts and she looks up to them to get ideas. As she is playing with her toys, she is inspired by Graceful Gale’s deconstructions and reconstructions to make the perfect dance partner. Now Mary has started to create some terrible playmates.” Listening to the stories and walking through the mazes in progress, in the dark creepy ship, I could almost feel the ghosts around me. I asked if Scary Mary was based on a real child that had died on the ship. J.J. confirmed that it was. “Scary Mary’s story is inspired by the legend of a little girl named Jackie that actually died in the swimming pool on board the ship in the 1950s. Very little is known about her, but many people have encountered her spirit, so we have fictionalized her character to enhance the Dark Harbor story. It’s a much creepier story: In our version Mary was truly a bad seed and after her mother’s mysterious death, neighbors, dogs and cats missing, her father put two and two together that she was the one causing all the problems. He thinks he is trying to save her by taking her away on the cruise but she wreaks havoc on the ship, the crew members and passengers, so her father takes matters into his own hands and he drowns her, but as we will see, she is not really dead. There are a lot of water effects in this maze since she drowned, a lot of sensory overload and the audience may get wet. Guests will see the preserved bodies of Mary and her parents, her death site, and Mary plays in water all through the maze. Her creations combining toys, people and animals are very demented indeed. One of my favorite things about this maze is that her story takes place in the first class pool room, in the same first class pool room where the vortex tunnel is and that’s where legend says the spirits pass from their world into ours. The guests will be playing a game of hide and seek with Scary Mary.” Let’s hope we all get out alive!
There are a lot of other ghosts aboard the Queen Mary. In fact, legend says that the Queen Mary is one of the most haunted places in the world. There are as many as 150 known spirits lurking upon the ship. Over the past 60 years, the Queen Mary has been the site of at least 49 reported deaths, not to mention having gone through the terrors of war, so it comes as no surprise that the spirits of her sometimes violent past continue to walk up and down in her rooms, decks and crew areas. J.J. shared some background on the other ghostly characters too. “Graceful Gale is based on the Lady in White ghost. There is nothing documented about her life or death, other than what is passed down by legend. On one of the voyages she just vanished. Since she was on-board looking for the perfect person and soulmate, in her death she is still searching, Sam the Savage is our most dangerous monster, he is based on the spirit that haunts room B340, a room that is not opened up to the public, but its known to be one of the most hot paranormal spots of the ship. In the story, while on-board he attacked a lot of crew members and guests, so they locked him in B340 and when they came back he had torn himself apart, and was dead. Probably a tall tale, but we are running with it. Half-Hatch Henry is based on a ghost that inhabits the engine room. He is playful and adventurous, funny and a trickster, Henry is a character in the maze Deadrise. Then there is the Captain of course, he is the leader at the helm of our Dark Harbor spirits, he is kind of a representation of all the Captains that have served on the Queen Mary and is not based on a death. There is no tale of a Captain that has died or haunted the ship.” Has J.J ever had a seen a ghost on board? She laughed. “There are many documented cases of people seeing a crew member ghost, including me. There has been some wild encounters with crew members seeing those ghosts. When I started developing the stories for Dark Harbor, I went to the Queen Mary for history and they have been keeping records, of every ghostly encounter that was ever reported. We really developed the characters through those stories. I personally felt a presence by the pool area where the vortex is said to exist. I was not a believer when I got the job here, I was a skeptic, but now I believe.” While on my tour I heard two other stories about paranormal encounters on the ship, one that had just happened the day before. Tori Elder, my contact for the tour, said that she was walking through the ship and felt something squeezing her hand, like someone or something was holding onto her hand. Scary Mary perhaps? All the ghosts of Dark Harbor are waiting for you! I know I am coming back to experience Dark Harbor fully for myself. “I ain’t afraid of no ghost”!
If you still need more reasons to go to Dark Harbor here they are:
Curse of Anubis: Paintball Adventure
Guaranteed to be a huge hit! Enter the terrifying tombs of Anubis, the Greek Egyptian jackal-headed god of mummification and the afterlife and fight for survival. Test your skills and battle a horde of horrific mummies, monsters, and myths in this LED 3D paintball adventure.
Every year freak show is different. This year Dark Harbor will introduce the new Side Show of Freaks and Oddities that will take guests through an immersive experience into the grotesque world of freaks like never before imagined. Choose from your own a la carte freak menu at the Creepy Cabana. Enjoy a specialty cocktail at the Side Show Bar for an up-close and personal look behind the Side Show curtain and catch an exclusively freaky live Side Show performance.
Dark Harbor guests will get lost in the depths of the Queen Mary’s haunted history through the Deadrise, Soulmate and B340 mazes as well as visit the feared Voodoo Priestess in her Voodoo Village with dark magic gypsies in a setting wrought with shrunken heads and voodoo dolls.
The Ringmaster will orchestrate the freaks and monsters of the Circus maze and its terrifying mad house that have disorienting illusions through horrific magic, paranormal wonders and spirited thrills. The Ringmaster, The Captain and their band of spirits including Samuel the Savage, Graceful Gale, Half-Hatch Henry and of course Scary Mary will haunt the grounds of Dark Harbor nightly.The Dark Harbor brings the true haunted tales of the Queen Mary to life. One must proceed with caution, as it may be their last journey through Dark Harbor as a mortal soul.
The level of scary is at an all-time high at Dark Harbor 2015. There is over 200 monsters, more attractions than last year, pre-shows with every maze, aerial entertainment, thirst quenching drinks and a hauntingly horrifying new maze raising the fear bar to unprecedented heights! Come play if you dare and experience the thrills and chills of Dark Harbor at the Queen Mary. Dark Harbor starts October 1st, 2015 and runs through November 1, 2015. Ticket prices start at $20 online. Fast Fright, VIP Passes and special lodging packages at the Hotel are also available.
For more information or to get tickets go to: www.queenmary.com/dark-harbor