Clatto Reviews: QM’s Dark Harbor 2016!


The Queen Mary is once again overrun by seafaring savages and gruesome ghouls as its annual Dark Harbor event opens to landlubbers brave enough to go aboard one of Halloween’s most unique and fun haunts. Running now through Oct. 31, Dark Harbor unleashes more than 200 monsters and six nerve-racking mazes.

Clatto made it to the docks this year and we were immediately greeted by heckling hellions and fiendish freaks eager to make us jump like lily-livered polliwogs. We stumbled upon houngans and mambos as they swallowed and spat fire in a voodoo ceremony only a chicken head toss away from the Voodoo House tasting room, a spooky bar to conjure spirits and strength through tasty libations.


It was at the Voodoo House that guests could claim a flight of tequila if they survived a game of cat-and-mouse with the undead and infected. We’ll explain: an LED badge given upon entry to be placed by one’s heart measures health as zombi slaves give chase throughout the grounds, preventing folks from completing a rites of passage ritual that involves touching six lights each located at a maze entry point.

If health is depleted (flashing green turns flashing red on LED badge) by failure to evade the zombi slaves or infected (losers who got caught) while on the quest, one is doomed to an evening of damning sobriety – that is unless paying heart-stopping prices for stingy pours is a viable option. Clatto, of course, will not be denied inebriation and won the challenge, claiming our flight of tequila from living dead girl barkeeps.


With a belly full of liquid courage, we boarded the Queen Mary to see for ourselves what drove passenger Samuel the Savage mad and into a murderous rage in what is called the B340 maze. Tight and winding, claustrophobic and dreadfully dark, B340 brought on the gore and created an anxiety that grew subtly – and that’s not lip service, make sure to look back while moving through the turns and be genuinely creeped out.

The ship’s Soulmate maze told the story of Graceful Gale, a doomed debutante who vanished from the ship in 1939 under mysterious circumstances. She haunts the Queen Mary in search of her true love. Her loss and yearning makes her a sympathetic soul, the severed heads and mutilated corpses dangling from the rafters… not so much.  The only thing more tragic than lost love is innocence lost, which brought us to the oceanliner’s newly enhanced Lullaby maze, a final resting place for child drowning victim Scary Mary.


Lullaby is a fun maze with creepy visuals and a troupe of outstanding and committed actors playing Scary Mary. At every turn, Scary Mary pops up, lurking in shadows, halls, and even catwalks so cramp it’s unsettling – all set to a backdrop of ripped doll parts and teddy bear guts.

What makes Dark Harbor unique and gives it an edge above all other Halloween haunts is really the Queen Mary ship. It’s frightening to navigate through its narrow corridors, engine rooms, and hulls while in pitch black darkness. It’s an experience not easily forgotten and one that keeps people coming back for more.


On the docks, there’s a new force to be reckoned with: The Iron Master, a cursed 1930’s shipbuilder and original iron forger for the R.M.S. Queen Mary and its most fierce protector. Half monster, half machine, he’s emerged from the seas of madness to rid the harbor of those who threaten his beloved vessel. His maze is the Intrepid and, while it has a cool backstory, other than some leather-clad big dudes giving one the fish-eye, there’s very little to see here.

Deadrise, on the other hand, is an intricate maze so well crafted and long (and wet) it’s easy to get sucked into its story and believe it is a sunken World War II escort ship haunted by drowned mariners and their fearsome Captain. Circus, though always fun in it’s ability to disorient guests through its mirrored maze, felt like a missed opportunity this year in the wake of the creepy clown phenomenon.


Upgrade attractions Hex Paintball Gallery and Sideshow are sinister cash grabs to be avoided – though the ballyhoo out front the sideshow is hilarious. We purchased a John Holmes sized corn dog from one of the many enjoyable vendors and enjoyed the actor’s impressive improvisational skills as we prepped to call it a night.

Don’t miss the boat this Halloween…. Get Dark Harbor tickets and complete event details here.

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