MiceChat's Oct. 8th Nights of Horror- Queen Mary's Dark Harbor
Before I get started on the review I have 2 pieces of advice concerning Dark Harbor
1. This should be at the top of everybody's list of 2011 Halloween excursions.
2. Get the Fright Fast Pass wrist bands or better yet the VIP pass.( more on this later )
First things first, a huge thanks to Todd and Norm for putting together another awesome MiceChat event. Without their efforts I know I would not have visited any of the MiceChat Nights of Horror events because no one I know besides me likes these things
I subtitled this review " A night of Tortured Souls" and if you want to see these tortured souls, try looking into a mirror!
The night started out with a few hiccups, at dinner the size of our group seemed to tax the staff a bit. The meal was an enjoyable sit down 3 course dinner. We had plenty of time to talk with our table mates and make some new friends while we waited of our different selections to be served. We also got to meet and talk to Dark Harbor's talent director, David Wally before he had to head off and get things going. Twice during dinner the fire alarms were triggered and sirens and strobes went off. Luckily we did not have to make our way to the life boats, but the alarms would factor into our Dark Harbor visit later into the night.
After dinner we regrouped in the parking lot and were issued out tickets. Our VIP tickets gain us access to our own line to enter the event. Security checked every ones belonging and person for contraband, included in this list is carabiners and telescoping Swords of Destiny. The regular entrance line was rather long, so again get yourself the VIP pass. As mentioned above, the security folk had a problem with Norm's famous beacon of light, The Sword of Destiny. Finally a call to David Wally paved the way for Norm not to have to use his Cell Phone of Destiny to guides our way. Our second to last hiccup of the night was a slight confusion on getting issued our wrist bands.
Finally we were into to the dark maze leading into Dark harbor and trying to find our way out. After escaping the entrance maze we encountered the last hiccup of the night, the fire alarms which had gone off at dinner had triggered again and this brought all five mazes to a halt until the areas could be inspected and cleared
The names of all 5 mazes sets the themes perfectly and all 5 follow the back story of Dark harbor. Three of the five mazes, Containment, Submerged and Hell Fire are all on the haunted Queen Mary herself. The ship provided the perfect creepy and eerie settings for the back stories to play out. The Dark Harbor mazes are more about getting into your head and leaving you with a sense of helplessness as you try to find which direction to head in the dimly lit and totally dark passages, all the while having to deal with what or whom may be around the next bend.
Our first maze of the night was Containment. In spite of the crowds, the darkness of the mazes tends to slow everyone down as the try to get their bearings and as such you find yourself alone or at least feeling that way. These are not like Knott's mazes where you feel like you are in a haunted conga line snaking through each maze. The use of the actual ship combined with added interior maze walls really sets the mood. The audio soundtracks are not over powering, you here the creaks of the ship, dripping water and things in the distance you would rather not know about. I was surprised at the length of this maze, and as I would later find out of all of the mazes. The more you walked, the deeper into the belly of the ship you go and the further from your way out you get.
Submerged was our second stop and as the name implies water factors into the maze. the lighting is still dim with eerie green hues, and I am beginning to realize that tonight is going to be a great night of MiceChat maze trekking.
Our third and last of the ship board mazes was Hell Fire and as the name implies, this maze delivers glowing embers, red steamy lighting and the desire of the safety and cool night air of the exit. It is rather difficult to describe these mazes in a few words as they don't fit into categories like crazed clowns, steam punk zombies ect. You just have to experience them and soak up the vibe the maze is giving off.
Our 4th maze and 1st off the ship is The Cage. The regular line for this was easily several hours, so as I have said before GET the Wrist band or VIP Pass. This is by far the sickest and most disorientating maze I have ever encountered. Located in the Spruce Goose dome, this maze leads you into darkness that finds yourself grasping for walls and tell tell signs of which way to go, there is lighting here and there, but given that the walls are chain link fencing to see a little does not often help figuring out which direction to head. For a while I was not sure if there was a defined path to follow or of a free form true maze where perhaps I would not ever escape. The use of mirrors and dimly lit rooms had me believing I had merged into another passageway until I realized I was seeing my own reflection. The darkness finally came to an end as I found myself in a blinding fog filled strobe light room which further confused the senses and my ability to proceed. I finally pushed on and found the exit and my salvation.
The Village of the Damned was our last maze of the night and our wrist bands got us right in and pass the long ling of guest who would be making this their last maze of the night due to the lines.Once again, if you plan on going GET THE WRIST BAND this maze is set in the old English village retail shopping area that once was here, now just the spirits of failed retailers remain. This was the best lit maze of the 5 and more in common with something you will find at Knott's and as such my least favorite maze of the night. The collapsing corridor was a nice touch and the talent did a nice job also.
We all regrouped after the last maze and said our goodbyes and headed off on our own for the last 75 hours of the night.
Over all this was a wonderful Night of Horror and a great MiceChat outing. I can not recommend this enough, Knott's is fun and an enjoyable experience but Queen Mary's Dark Harbor is a voyage of the damned that is not to be missed by any Halloween Haunt connoisseur.
Lastly, don't forget to get the Fright Fast Pass wristbands