Midsummer Scream 2017
Author: Tania Escobar
As a regular to horror-themed conventions, such as ScareLA and Monsterpalooza, I noticed a trend of after-parties held on Saturday night once the convention closed. Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Presents Sinister Circus was no exception, held on Saturday, July 29, 2017. This Halloween after-party, across the way from Midsummer Scream, was probably the best after-party I’ve ever attended.
The festivities took place outside on the top deck of the Queen Mary ship in Long Beach Harbor, where the retired ocean liner is docked. The crew was dressed up in Dark Harbor’s signature circus look, and the area included a hookah lounge and a decent-sized dance floor. Of course, there were also two bars and an incredible DJ. To add to the scare element, there was also a spinning dark tunnel and fog tent, which will be featured at this year’s Dark Harbor.
Of course, my favorite was the fog tent. It had the craziest illusion: a veil of fog perfectly covering the bottom half of the tent while green lasers at the top half averted the fog from rising. This made it easy for a bushman to pop out of the fog and scare the living daylights out of us.
Even though the party was promoted as an after-experience from Midsummer Scream, The Queen Mary has its fan base, so badge holders were not the only ones present at this early Halloween soiree. This blending of these groups saw historians in love with the ship dancing with monsters devoted to the season of The Witch.
One of the biggest treats brought to us atop Southern California’s haunted and beloved passenger ship was face-to-face with Dark Harbor’s Master of Ceremonies, The Ringmaster. The scariest and most fabulous character of the haunt was merely walking around nonchalantly at this party. If you aren’t aware, he’s a bloody-looking fellow in the Dark Harbor commercials you’ve seen. Taking a picture with him was honestly the highlight of my weekend! Though he may appear intimidating in the commercials, being near him up close was giddy-inducing. I genuinely thought I would never meet, let alone get a picture with this character, yet that night I did.
The rest of the faces of Dark Harbor were also present to creep around and entertain party guests. On the dance floor was Scary Mary, the character based on the little girl that drowned in the ship’s pool area. Hanging out with the rest of the spirits at the bar was Graceful Gale, a woman who boarded the ship only to disappear. I also saw walking in tandem, The Captain and The Voodoo Priestess. All the scare actors made every attendee’s night with their willingness to mix and mingle.
Having these iconic symbols of the maze walk around, photo-ready is a pleasant and much-needed surprise. Usually, at most haunts, they either don’t stop for pictures or are not allowed to. Even though their presence is the best part of a haunt, rarely are participants allowed to engage with them fully. Sinister Circus remedied that situation by allowing both actors and guests to associate with one another.
Included in the event was a costume contest that ran throughout the night. I didn’t enter because I didn’t dress up (must-do list for next year). Though I couldn’t get a picture of all the contestants, I got a shot of the first-place winner and the runner-up. First place took home VIP passes to Dark Harbor and was dressed as La Muerte from The Book of Life. The runner-up was a gender-bent The Ringmaster, donning a huge ball gown and winning a cash prize.
There were so many screams, laughs, and cheers at Sinister Circus Ball that I can’t stress enough how amazing this shindig was. Along with bringing the thrills, this party even prompted Dark Harbor, which opens Thursday, September 28, 2017. I’m beyond ready to see The Ringmaster and gang this year and eagerly look forward to another ball after Midsummer Scream next year.