Events & Attractions

Shaqtoberfest Brings Shaq-Sized Halloween Fun to The Queen Mary


With the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then the ship itself shutting down for repairs and renovations, Long Beach has had a huge Halloween void. Thankfully, for 2022, 15-time All-Star and basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal stepped up to fill that void with the help of Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group to host the first-ever Shaqtoberfest. Over the weekend, Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group was kind enough to invite us out to experience Shaqtoberfest first-hand, and I’ll admit I was pleasantly surprised.

When Shaqtoberfest was first announced, I was skeptical. After all, Shaquille O’Neal isn’t exactly synonymous with Halloween. But as more details emerged from Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group leading up to the event, I was intrigued. The goal was to create a Halloween event where Shaq’s footprint was noticeable but not so in your face that it took away from the Halloween element. And I think they achieved that. Aside from the giant inflatable Shaq entrance to the event, Shaq’s overall footprint was noticeable but subtle, mainly left to punny location names and occasional audio and video elements played during the event.

Shaqtoberfest is also unique in that it is one of the few Southern California Halloween events trying to have something for everyone. The daytime fun is family-friendly, with trick-or-treat trails filled with bounce houses, inflatable slides, and more age-appropriate fun, but at 8:00 pm, the witching hour starts, and the monsters come out. For fans of Dark Harbor, there was a familiarity in the way the monsters descended on the crowd. Parading into the event led by a group of percussionists, you hear them before you see them as they make their way into the crowd, ready to tear up the night.

Here is where I felt the event shined brightest. The street talent was strong, and each character had a unique personality and well-done character makeup. The characters are themed to the event’s various “scare zones” and range from clowns to barnacle-laden sailors. Among them are sliders and chainsaw-wielding monsters, offering a variety of ways to get in a good scare.

A scare actor dressed as a scarecrow at Shaqtoberfest


Each maze at the event does double duty, serving as a treat trail during the day and a “twisted trail” at night with five mazes in total to experience; six if you count the giant inflatable lizard thing, which we’ll get to in a minute. Overall, the fabricated mazes look incredible, and my only complaint is that some of them feel incredibly short for an event this size. I will also say that while the previously mentioned street talent was strong, I felt the mazes were a bit more lacking in scares. This could be a result of the length of the mazes or the family-friendly nature of the event, but it’s an area that, as the season progresses or if this returns in 2023, I hope they try to improve upon.

Shipwreck Graveyard

This maritime-themed maze filled with rusted vessels and withering cargo shrouded in fog is one of the first mazes you come upon at the event and also happens to be the shortest. The strengths here are some of the set pieces and the animatronics used. Unfortunately, as you walk out, its length has you asking, “Wait, that was it?”

Giant Inflatable Lizard Thing

Earlier I mentioned the inflatable lizard. This “maze” doesn’t have a name, but it is a maze nonetheless—one where you navigate, in the dark, the insides of a giant lizard monster. There are no monsters to jump out at you here, but I will say that if you are claustrophobic or fear the dark, this maze may be a bit too much for you. With several dark stretches where you need to feel your way through and some tight squeeze inflatable walls, and occasional low doorways, this one is going to frighten you in a very different way.

Pirates Cove

One of the most noticeable mazes due to its massive pirate ship facade, Pirate’s Cove is a pirate-themed maze filled with pirates, skeletons, treasure, and typical pirate fare. Here is also where you’ll find “Captain Shaq’s Hideaway,” a hidden bar where you can toast to the pirate’s life. From a set and layout standpoint, this was probably the strongest maze as you felt like you were actually inside the lower decks of a pirate’s ship, and when you come out the other side, you find yourself in a mermaid’s grotto.

Diesel’s Pumpkin Patch

Easily the longest maze at the event, the first half of Diesel’s Pumpkin Patch is a hay bale maze where you can either navigate the maze or choose to take a shortcut through some of the various inflatable slides and tunnels. The pumpkin patch-themed maze is filled with scarecrows, pumpkins, and your typical pumpkin patch fare. It’s also home to a few larger animatronics that come to life and tower over you as you venture through the maze. The maze ends in a barn, which is the more “scary” portion of the maze. Complete with ominous music, chicken carcasses hung on the wall and a few frightful characters.

Midway Madness

This carnival-themed maze takes you into a carnival tent where you’ll come to face to face with some of the carnival’s main attractions, like a giant tarantula, along with the resident clowns. One of the more interesting aspects of this maze is the shooting range scene, which can be seen from outside the maze, where guests navigate a shooting range carnival game. Bursts of air as you navigate this section make it feel as if you’re actually being shot at.

Lost City Boardwalk

One of the longer mazes, Lost City Boardwalk, is located underneath the gangways alongside the Queen Mary. Here, you journey back to the 1920s, where bank-robbing gangsters run the boardwalk. You’ll follow their story from the initial heist to their capture and imprisonment. What I liked about this maze is that it seemed like the scare actors had a few alternative paths they could take to get in a good scare. While navigating the jail scene, one of the scare actors could use this to his advantage and sneak up behind my wife and got a scare out of her, which is rare.

A member of LVCRFT DJs at Shaqtoberfest


At the heart of Shaqtoberfest is the Block Party stage, where members of LVCRFT will be spinning Halloween hits each night of the event. A mix of LVCRFT favorites and Halloween staples will have you grooving while you grab a bite to eat or check out the event merchandise at “The Merchandise Shaq.”

As part of Midway Madness, you can also enjoy several midway favorite rides, including the Ferris wheel and carousel, or make your way through the Wacky Shack funhouse.

But perhaps my favorite bit of entertainment was Dead Head Hoops, a carnival-style game where you toss foam heads like basketballs through oil barrel drum hoops. It’s definitely harder than it would seem, and heads bounce much differently than a basketball.

Food & Drink

For those who come to the event with an appetite, there are plenty of food and drink selections to indulge in. You’ll find an array of food options, including a taco stand, pizza truck, dessert tent, and even Hot Dog on a Stick at the event. Hollywood’s famous Pink’s Hot Dogs is also on hand at the event with a menu that features several Halloween-themed hot dogs, including the Halloweenie, Diesel Dog, Krampus Dog, Goblin Dog, and The Boogeyman Dog.

For those looking for a stiff drink, Shaqtoberfest is home to three bars, including two themed bars “Diesel’s Boat House” and “Tiki Terror.”

For a first-year event and an event themed to an NBA star, I was pleasantly surprised by Shaqtoberfest. The overall atmosphere is enjoyable, and you can tell that the talent and staff are excited about the event. While the scare factor of the event might let down hardcore haunt-goers, I think this is a perfect middle-ground haunt that an entire family could come out to and enjoy together. Plus, there is more to see and do beyond just the mazes if you’re looking for a night of Halloween fun.

Shaqtoberfest is taking place on select nights through Halloween. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Send this to a friend