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Dark Harbor opens at the Queen Mary

The Iron Master and The Captain return this year to scare Queen Mary guests.

Dark+Harbor+performer+dancing+on+a+smoky+stage+next+to+the+Queen+Mary.
Dark Harbor performer dancing on a smoky stage next to the Queen Mary.

Dark Harbor performer dancing on a smoky stage next to the Queen Mary.

Johnny Romero

Johnny Romero

Dark Harbor performer dancing on a smoky stage next to the Queen Mary.

Jason Enns, Arts & Life Editor

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If you find yourself trapped in a confined space with gruesome monsters coming at you from all directions, you might be in a horror movie – or you might be at the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor.

A full carnival set-up is constructed in the parking lot of the Queen Mary, devoted to all things Halloween. Dark Harbor is equipped with mazes, performers, music, food, drinks, rides – and, of course, monsters.

Anyone who is a fan of fright can pay to live out a real life horror film experience. The Dark Harbor is available every Thursday through Sunday during the month of October.

The attraction opened its doors for the first time on Sept. 29, inviting celebrities and members of the media to a sneak preview of mazes and monsters.

At 5 p.m., guests such as Joey Lutheran from “General Hospital,” FYI’s “He Shed She Shed” host Luke Barr, Nickelodeon’s Brec Bassinger and the band New District walked the “black carpet.” The actors went through the park among other VIP guests, getting scared by the park’s actors jumping out at them.

Regardless of what type of horror fan you are, Dark Harbor has something for everyone, and those who aren’t fans of being scared might consider stepping out of their comfort zone for a night of fun.

“It’s a necessary part of life,” first time Dark Harbor attendee Bob Mariorenzi said. “You get too much of reality out there all the time; you [have] got to have a little fun some time.”

The park is equipped with six main mazes. “Intrepid” takes you on a virtual train ride through an industrial wasteland. It tells the story of the Iron Master, the undead creator and protector of the Queen Mary, whose hand is replaced with a ship anchor, and can be seen walking throughout the harbor.

The “Circus” maze is a popular attraction, often having the longest line. It’s full of disorienting illusions. It has a room full of mirrors that make it nearly impossible to find your way out, and a rotating hallway that makes you feel like you’re going to fall over.

“‘Circus’ is fun because you get lost in those mirrors – that’s the best,” said Chad Roberts, an actor who recently did work on the TV show “Modern Family.”

“Deadrise” is a sunken ship maze that has guests walking through foggy shipping crates and surprises them not only with ghosts, but with exploding barrels that splash water on the maze-walkers.

Many guest would exclaim: “That one is my favorite” upon exiting “Lullaby,” a maze that takes visitors under the sea to the watery grave of Scary Mary — one of Dark Harbor’s token characters. The maze goes into the Queen Mary, past the out-of-use pool, a ghostly bartender and ghoulish concierge. Several actresses are dressed as Mary, who is hoping to bring guests into the afterlife to play with her forever.

“If I had to choose a top three, it would be ‘Lullaby,’ ‘Circus’ and probably ‘Intrepid,’” said Brandon Tyler Russell, an actor from the upcoming film “Halloween: The Night Evil Died.” “I like ‘Lullaby’ because my favorite character here is Scary Mary with the teddy bear.”

“Soulmate” and “B340” also take maze-goers into the ship, to be lured by Graceful Gale who is in search of a suitor in “Soulmate” and into the asylum that held Samuel the Savage in “B340.”

“Queen Mary is legit haunted,” said Justin Tinucci, an actor who just finished shooting a film entitled “Devil’s Whisper.” “Knowing the backstory of the Queen Mary and some of the stuff that’s gone down here makes some of this [better]. B340 is one of the most haunted rooms in the ship.”

Monsters at the Dark Harbor never break character, and even when you’re not in the mazes creatures lurk all over the grounds.

“The cool thing here is the entire area is one scare zone,” Tinucci said.

The fact that there is no escaping the terror in the confines of the smaller park is one reason why Russell said he enjoys Dark Harbor.

Not only does the park offer several scary attractions, but there are many performances as well. There are fire spinners, sword swallowers, magicians, acrobats and the sliders. The sliders are a crew that puts on a limbo show, using metal pads to grind across the asphalt.

“The sliders are the Iron Master’s apprentices, we came in with him on ‘Intrepid’ and we’re here to reclaim the ship. It’s rightfully ours, we built it,” the character known as Slider Nemo said. “The captain [took it from us and] he claims that he’s a great sailor but he seems to have sailed right into port and it’s stayed here for 40 years, clearly he isn’t fit to rule.”

According to Dark Harbor characters, the Iron Master built the Queen Mary, but it has been taken over by the ghoul known as “The Captain,” a green, rotting zombie in a sailor’s uniform. He is captain of the ship and emcee of the event each night.

The monsters get very close to guests – close enough to even blow on the backs of guests heads – but they don’t touch them. The actors also have a keen sense for who is most susceptible to fear. Recording artist Serena Laurel found that she was an easy target for the monsters.

“They don’t want to scare people who are going to punch them, and they don’t want to scare people who aren’t going to react,” Laurel said. “I am neither of those things.”
For those looking for a night full of adrenaline pumping jump scares, there’s no reason to break the bank. Dark Harbor at the Queen Mary is a scary good time right here in town, and tickets start at just $20.

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