Events & Attractions

Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Delivers On Its Promise of 2018 Being Its Darkest, Most Sinister Year Yet

The Captain from The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor 2018

This past weekend, The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor opened for its 2018 season and Friday night I was fortunate enough to be invited to their media and VIP event to explore all the exciting offerings for 2018. This year, with the help of haunt veteran Jon Cooke The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor revamped nearly the entire Dark Harbor experience, and while the mazes are all familiar Cooke’s touch can really be felt throughout. Like past years the event features plenty of food, drink, and entertainment in addition to the six mazes, which makes for a perfect all-night out.

Like last year, we arrived early enough to enjoy exploring the grounds a bit before the event. This year the outside area has a bar called The Gallows where you can grab a drink and then partake in the opening ceremony featuring The Captain as he hypes the crowd before unleashing his crew of monsters.

Once inside we opted to hit the mazes in the back in hopes of beating the lines. All six mazes from 2017 returned for 2018, but have been re-imagined as previously mentioned, with the help of Jon Cooke. The first maze we hit was FEAST, and while this maze is now only in its second year it already received a major overhaul to both its story and the maze itself. In FEAST, you’re a cook who’s late clocking in for your shift aboard the Queen Mary, now your only chance of survival is to escape the wrath of Chef. To escape you make your way through hallways, dining rooms, and various kitchens before running into some of the Chef’s past victims among the rest of the meat in the meat locker. It was here we discovered a new element to Dark Harbor mazes, smell. That’s right, as you make your way through the various meats hanging in the meat locker you’ll also smell said meats and it’s definitely not very pleasant.

This is also the first maze where we discovered the new “darker” Dark Harbor becoming a problem. Parts of this maze were so dark you couldn’t easily navigate the maze and the maze talent didn’t always steer us in the right direction, at least not without mocking us. In fact in some instances, they almost seemed to make it more difficult, which is a theme we saw pop up a few more times throughout the night.

Like last year, there is a bit of a physical element to FEAST where you’re made to crawl on your hands and knees as you are sent through the meat grinder, but this year you can bypass this feature if you choose to. I went through the grinder and was pleasantly surprised to find they had padded most of this feature so it was easier on the knees than last year when you had to crawl through the oven.

Entrance to the Circus maze at The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor 2018

After FEAST we hit CIRCUS, which like FEAST received a bit of an overhaul for 2018. This year the concept of the maze is that you’ve snuck into the rickety traveling circus the night before it opens only to discover the horrors of the freaks lurking in the shadows of the big top. While re-worked many familiar elements returned for 2018 including the spinning tunnel, the maze of mirrors, and ball pit. CIRCUS was definitely darker from a lighting perspective compared to 2017, but was manageable without too much confusion.

Circus barker in the Circus Maze at Dark Harbor 2018

After CIRCUS we visited the completely re-imagined B340. Home to Samuel the Savage, in B340 you take over for a late detective whose investigation of the Queen Mary murders in 1946 drove him to an untimely death. A death you’ll quickly uncover in the maze. In this film noir era mystery, you’ll make your way through a number of crime scenes, often stumbling upon the victims of Samuel the Savage. In addition to all new scenes and story, B340 got an all-new soundtrack, and its probably one of my favorites from the event. While B340 has historically had a creepy, insane asylum vibe to it, this year’s maze is much gorier and focuses on the victims of Samuel the Savage and you’ll hear his thoughts and really start to understand what drove him to madness.

Opening scene of B340
The opening scene of B340

After B340 we head next store to LULLABY, the home of Scary Mary. While there were definitely changes to this maze I feel overall it kept most of its vibe and if you were a fan of Mary and her maze previously, you’ll definitely enjoy it again this year.

After LULLABY we took a bit of a break after working up a bit of appetite after the handful of mazes. This is definitely another area I saw improvements in year over year. This year the food selection and quality was spot on. We first enjoyed some of the street tacos from El Diablo, where you can choose from chicken, carne asada, al pastor, or veggie tacos. They also serve quesadillas, street corn cups and more. If street tacos aren’t your thing you can also go check out The Shack, which serves up Southern soul food, the Mess Hall, a cafeteria serving up comfort food like melts and loaded tater tots, Poison Pizza, or Forge Grill, which I’ll come back to a bit later. If you want something lighter you can also hit IScream for a frozen treat or Three Ring Concessions where you can satisfy your sweet tooth with treats like kettle corn, cotton candy, and more.

With two mazes left to go we hit INTREPID and then DEADRISE.  INTREPID was another maze where you could really see a shift in the storytelling. There are many familiar elements, such as feeling like you’re on an actual train at the start of the maze, walking past passengers on a train car but its heightened by the scent feature being added where it smells like coal burning as you make your way through. The new Edinburgh cemetery scene is also really well done as you find yourself in a graveyard full of mourners and the ruins of Roselyn Chapel. INTREPID also saw the greatest improvements in scene quality in my opinion as a lot seemed to be added to really bring the sets to life and make you feel like you’re in another place and another time. One important note about INTREPID, though this is the first maze you’ll see when you enter Dark Harbor, I would recommend making it the last thing you do as the exit to the maze lands you outside the gates and next to where they hold the opening ceremony.

DEADRISE kept much of the same feel as years past. It’s easy to get lost in, you might get wet, and getting out requires wading through a ton of fog. There was a reference to a change in this maze at Midsummer Scream that suggested there would be an American Ninja Warrior type element to it where the path you took could get a bit more physical, but we personally didn’t come across it.

We capped the night by hitting The Forge on the way out for another quick bite. Here I tried the hot Cheetos fries, which are a must if you love french fries and spicy food. They also have other fry options like garlic fries, pulled pork fries, and mac & cheese fries, or you can grab yourself a burger or a turkey leg if you’re looking for a bit more protein.

Dark Harbor Roaming Talent


  • Sound Design – I saw huge improvements in the maze sound design this year where audio was fluid and consistent throughout the mazes, which made the experience feel a bit more complete
  • New sets – There have definitely been some improvements to the sets of Dark Harbor mazes and if you were a fan of the mazes before you’re going to love the new show elements they’ve added
  • Talent – Dark Harbor continues to staff some top talent who really get into their character and own the story of their maze.
  • Food – Seriously, come hungry, you won’t regret it. There was so much food I wanted to try, but was too full of tacos and fries to try any more.


  • Darkness – I know this is something they are touting, but the mazes in the ship have a problem with being too dark in some instances. There were times we went the wrong way, almost went into places we shouldn’t have, or simply couldn’t even figure out where to go until maze talent pointed us in the right direction
  • Electricity Effects – There are a couple of mazes that make use of a loud popping, electricity effect that is deafening in the small space it is used in. In DEADRISE, in particular, this was so bad myself and the group I was with had to plug our ears to make it through the scene.
  • Being blocked/misdirected by talent – I took issue with this last year in DEADRISE, but I saw it come up again in a couple of other mazes this year and it can be frustrating, especially when you find yourself running into other groups who have also been lead the wrong way or prevented from going the right way. I can see this working well if you have a small group on a less busy night, but not when there are large numbers of guests pulsing through a maze

Final Thoughts

Overall we had a great time and while we spent most of our time enjoying the mazes and the food, there is definitely plenty more we could have done, but simply didn’t have time to experience before we had to leave. You can definitely see the time and effort that went into making the Dark Harbor experience even better for 2018 in terms of quality where it mattered most. Dark Harbor is an all-night party and if you like to party with a bunch of freaks and creeps you’re going to love this year’s Dark Harbor.

Dark Harbor will continue for 23 nights of terror through November 2. Tickets for Dark Harbor are on sale now with General Admission tickets starting at just $29 online with Fast Fright tickets, which give you expedited priority entry into the event and mazes, starting at $69 online.  Other ticketing options include:

  •  Evil Express tickets – Starting at just $89 online, the Evil Express Pass allows you to gain access into the exclusive VIP Expedited Access Lane into both the Event and all six mazes.
  • VIP Tickets – Starting at just $99 online, these 21+ only tickets include a wristband that includes expedited VIP admission into both the event and all six mazes plus access into the exclusive RIP Lounge with (2) Well Drink Tickets.
  • Ultimate Scream – Starting at $229 online, this is a limited offering with only 20 tickets being sold per night. With Ultimate Scream you’ll get a private tour guide who will walk you past all the lines while you learn the story and background that runs deep within the veins of The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor and the history that has inspired the stories.

Admission Tickets, Ultimate Scream Experiences, Cabanas, hotel packages, and private party reservations are available to purchase online at

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