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Friday, October 3, 2014

Queen Mary's Dark Harbor 2014 Set Sail For Semi-Fun

Queen Mary's Dark Harbor comes back to port for this Halloween season with some of the same frights we've seen before and two new mazes that don't make me think this ship isn't sinking. TTDILA missed it's time with Dark Harbor last year and it may have been too soon to come back.

The stoic and scary ship, now in it's 80's, always makes for a perfect place to put a maze in with nooks and galleys of places to hide haunters. The mazes this year didn't offer up enough fright and the newest pay extra maze, Close Encounters, was cute, not $15 dollars more cute, but a cute little maze with less people in it for a group.

We arrived on the opening night of this year's Halloween cycle at the Mary. Ghouls were pining all over the place. As soon as we smelled the pungent feast outside of junk food and a band dressed like skeletons playing; only too soon were we on the ship experiencing Close Encounters with a tour guide towing us around. That night we would experience multiple chills and see the hilarious "Micheal Jackson's Neverland Ranch Swing ride" dead center underneath huge plumes of fire that would shoot up every few minutes.

The mazes are the most of your experience, here we ranked them starting from best to worst.

"B340" has you entering the mind of Samuel the Savage. You really seem to be entering someones brain. At the start you're walking through what seems to be in someones head, their brains to be more exact, and something is in there with you. This is pulled off with some organic feeling, soft to the touch, feels organic matter, almost like corral you get lost in. After that you'll relive moments and keep seeing references to clocks and bad classes. Many students stayed well after closing bells, there all skeletons. What's that written in chalk, B340. Traversing the ship is always terrifying at night and with so many halls and tight spaces to get lost in, it gets you in a creepy mood. If only more detail was explored, like walking through brains was kept up, the maze the would make it into some fond memories of yours and mine.

"Submerged" was not up to par as it was a few years back. Set on the ship and following a similar route to "B340" your followed by trapped drowned ghosts. In the year's past, I remember piano's being played and Scary Mary being much more spooky and plentiful. Wasn't Scary Mary in front of me? Oh, now she's behind me. None of that was going on. Just being in the ship leaves many spaces to be scared in. That's what was used so poorly this time, you have the ship itself, almost like a character and it's wasted on to little.

A lost warship leaves for some spooky scares with the use of just some metal containers. "Deadrise", not having the ship as it's background, makes use of long hallways used from big metal containers used for shipping that make great passageways for dead seaman to come up at you.

Clowns are always kind of scary and always more in the dark. "The Circus" could be a class act if it only took more care. A mirror maze starts you off, with what seems like multiple mazes to try. There isn't another path, just the same way everyone else goes. What starts strong is too short a maze with some circus ideas and a waste of the vast space they have. I've seen the same maze space be used for much more and relied more on the dark for scares.

"Soulmate", where were you my love? Based on the idea of stalker love the idea is characters who want a piece of you. That and an upcoming show  starring Graceful Gale without a big payoff.

This maze was underpopulated with ghouls to scare us. We turned corner after corner and felt alone. Soulmate did have some fine actors in-between spots. A tailor, who tried to convince us we would look better as clothing and a creepy women on the floor at the end who looked like she ate someone stood out. Graceful Gale met us at the end with gentleman callers aplenty, she was strikingly beautiful and scary. We shouldn't have kept our eyes on her.

"Voodoo Village" is cursed by even less scares. Vast empty space is on the bayou. Weaving in and about was fun through strange worshipping sites and dungeons and forests. It would have been nice to be scared by monsters more than once or twice. The look of some voodoo stricken land needs some more voodoo priests and shrunken heads to scare us.

"Encounters", was not that encouraging. With some more work it could be a fun extra dollar worth fright, for now it needs to think a bit harder. The maze let's you go on a guided tour with only up to twelve others. What we encountered on the way were a few good scares at the start and then sadly not much else.

Encounters starts off as a private tour of The Queen Mary that goes off into a poorly done mystery. We summoned spirits, all together our group summoned spirits and it led to some shaking of the ship. Then we had to enter a hole in the wall and sacrificed one of our team members. These parts were playful and fun, it brought the group together, though we lost someone for a while. Then... then it all just became more of a led maze tour with some minor scare points. Nothing too frightening and nothing to mind blowing. It was like the story stopped being interesting at the midpoint. The ending came and went and we still thought something else was going to happen, but didn't. The group meeting more strange personalities, tests or trials  or going on different routes could have made it the maze it needs to be. It needs to be re-thought as it was more or less like a first try from someone.

On entertainment and food, the food court of Dark Harbor is great. Free concerts, shows and a freak show for five bucks. Food booths with funny names. They are the only... the only theme park haunt that seems to get this. Food booths have funny names like Creepy Tacos and menus that have items like, "1/3 flesh on a bun." Deep-fried Oreo's and multiple bars are open to you. Seating is all over the harbor to relax and eat a wide selection of junk food. Prices could be lower. There's and undead mecahncial bull with your name on it.

The RIP Lounge overlooks the whole event. See the fire bursts from high above those being scared. The food served was a little more than sloppy joe's and they have their own bar with places to sit and relax. It costs a little extra to be in horror comfort.

Dark Harbor needs to rethink its scares and put more time into its mazes then the food it's serving. Just a few changes and this could be the top tier scare event it needs to be. The use of the Queen Mary and other mazes needs some more professional help, minor tweaks, or bigger payoffs. Dark Harbor scare me that it doesn't do more for Halloween.