Let me start off this trip report with saying we went to Dark Harbor in Oct 2010 and having such a wonderful time we somehow managed to find ourselves back again this year.
Will get to the detailed aspects of the trip but first some helpful pointers
DO arrive extra early (more on this later)
DO buy your tickets and Fast Fright pass online(will save you time at the Will Call Window)
DO eat either before you go or else if you are hungry BEFORE 9pm (more on this later)
DO get there with time to watch the Monster Run beforehand.
I think that sums up all the DO's.I apologize because my mind is still a bit hazy.
We arrived about 6:10pm on Sunday Oct 28th. Thankfully there was no traffic and we sailed all the way there. It was a good thing we did too because I had heard the Monster Run was at 6:45pm but it was at about 6:20pm. If we had relied on the other time and came any later we would have missed it. Parking is $20 which in consideration to Universal Studios and Knott's Haunt it is no more than what they charge. Plus of you make a daytime visit you have to pay for parking anyway. Get there early because we sailed right in and found a close up parking spot. I heard that people who came later had to park further away in a grassy area and have a walk to get to the enterance.
We had our tickets purchased with Fast Fright passes. The Fast Fright passes are only $20 extra and definitely worth it. I would reccomend that you purchase the Fast Fright passes when buying your regular admission tickets because like last night they sold out of them and also because you have a separate enterance line bypassing the hordes of people stuck in the regular enterance queue.
As I stated earlier the Monster Run was at about 6:20pm. The monsters basically run past the waiting guests terrorizing those who have Fast Fright enterance. Because of the sheer number of regular guests waiting they opened security and the enterance by 6:30pm. Be warned that you will be separated into boys and girls to be searched yes searched and patted down by security. (This was almost worse than any airline checkpoint while traveling.) I would reccomend NOT to bring a purse or bag if not needed which I didn't have as this slows security way way down. After that you queue up to collect your Fast Fright wristbands before choosing your path of enterance
The enterance this year has three choices. They're basically containers you walk thru into the event(too bad Universal can't do something like this). It is the most unique experience out of all the Halloween events I've been to. We choose the far right and it had strobe lights inside and was dark but only one monster. (Next time I think we shall go thru the middle because for some reason no one wanted to choose the middle one.) Into the event we go.
There are 6 mazes. 3 are on board the ship and 3 off the ship. We made our way over to our first maze of the evening Submerged. before I get to the maze twelfth I'd like to just warn you that if you are afraid of the dark, enclosed tight spaces,loud noises, then this event is probably not for you.
Submerged: Because it was just the two of us I was definitely a little bit freaked out. It felt so much like we were all alone which makes the experience nothing like other events. The talent definitely uses the dark and rely on guests fears. Just when you think you are safe they get you. They don't just pick on one or two either they go after almost everyone. As you can tell Submerged is all about the ship sinking. I don't want to giveaway spoilers but let's just say I was not prepared for what was inside. This was my favorite maze on board the ship. 10/10
I think what made me freak out more than normal was the fact that we were all alone and knowing the ship is haunted of course my mind would automatically to there.
SIDE NOTE: I mentioned Fast Fright pass. It is definitely worth it because the regular lines for the mazes were anywhere between 60-180 minutes. Dark Harbor has separate entrances for Fast Fright passes. Unlike Universal Horror Nights the Fast Fright pass is unlimited use so you can go back thru your favorite mazes over and over. Universal needs to bring back their unlimited use of Front of the Lines and maybe they will find guests staying and actually spending money(ok stopping the rant on Universal here) Plus with the strict line control there is hardly a conga line style thru the mazes (later on there was but if you stop and wait a few seconds then you can put some space between you and those in front of you). I really wish Universal would lower the amount of tickets sold so there would be less standing in the same spot for minutes on end thus taking you out of being in the middle of a maze. Isn't the point of an experienced to be completely submersed in your surroundings? Well Dark Harbor certainly delivers.
Ok onto the next maze on the ship called Hellfire.
Hellfire: I liked it just ok two years ago but last night was my second favorite to Submerged. It is definitely more dark, more sinister than the other two on the ship. On one of our many trips thru I actually shivered for some unknown reason. There is a lot of fake smoke so the first time thru I was coughing a bit. It is hard to see some of the makeup on the actors because of the dark but I was screaming all the way thru. I have to commend the talent. They were nonstop in their efforts to completely traumatizing me. It really did feel like the ship was on fire. 10/10
---------- Post added 10-29-2012 at 02:06 PM ----------
The last maze on the ship is Containment.
Containment: In my opinion of the 3 on board mazes this was the weakest of them. However I really have to applaud the talent for their efforts at one point with having me call out "Chuckles the Clown". It's more of an asylum or hospital theme with some effects. Nothing really standing out but great use of places you wouldn't suspect for the talent to pop out at you. Plus early in the evening when there's no one the scares are more at you than are given away by those in front of you. 8/10
We had done half of the mazes and I believe it was about 7:45 or so. We decided to take a food break. They have various food locations but be warned of you are hungry get something before 9pm or you will find yourself waiting in very long slow moving lines. We grabbed our food and sat down on a bench to eat and rest before heading to our first maze on land called Deadrise.
---------- Post added 10-29-2012 at 02:24 PM ----------
Deadrise: This is an all new maze for this year. The premise is that the Captain has reclaimed his crew and ship and resurfacing to reclaim what was once his Dark Harbor. I really liked the use of space as well as the talent. It could become one of my favorites. 8/10
The next maze we went to is Village of the Damned.
Village of the Damned: Last visit this wasfavorite of all the mazes. However our first time thru I found it to be lacking. The enterance is where the exit used to be. I would have liked it to not have the mile of nothing (brought me back to Knott's Haunt with the mile of burlap. Quite honestly I found the ending to be less than climatic. If they are going to go the route of Universal with a show scene and nothing that either scares you as you exit rather than just walking by and thru to exit is just a tad lame in my opinion. I come to Dark Harbor to get away from that style of mazes only to be reminded of that. Our second walk thru later I found it to be much much better. 7/10
The last maze was The Cage.
The Cage: be warned if you can't deal with loud banging on barrels and the fence then this isn't for you. I did like the use of the new enterance though but super glad I had good shoes on and proper footing. Use the handrails. Once you are past that you face a challenge of sorts. I don't want to give it away here for anyone who hasn't been. Once successful you find yourself surrounded by chain link fence. The talent is great in here and make great use of fencing that opens so they can scare those who have no idea. However the unnecessary banging on drums and the fence my ears seriously hurt from the loud noise. To me that is not a scare tatic at all. Just more of a way to make sure that I cover my ears and come away with a huge headache afterwards. I really wish this maze would go. It's old. If you are to skip a maze due to time constraints i would skip this one. 5/10
---------- Post added 10-29-2012 at 02:29 PM ----------
We were finished by about 9pm and hit up everything a second time. By now the lines were anywhere from 60-180 minutes. Yes one maze (I think it might have been Hellfire was 180 minutes long for the regular line). Once finished we did Submerged and Hellfire a third and final time leaving about 10:30pm. On our way out we saw the Captain hanging more like standing in front of the maps on the poles. Picture taking time before exiting the event. Once you exit there is no re-entry either.
In conclusion I'd do the mazes in this order Submerged, Hellfire, Containment, Deadrise, Village of the Damned and then the Cage. We did get the nastiest looks from people waiting in the regular queue when we would pass them with the Fast Fright passs but hey we definitely got our monies worth. Out of all the Halloween events we've been to this year Dark Harbor is tops. We will be back next year.