Tag Archives: haunted attractions

The Queen Mary Houses Guests…AND Ghosts

What’s going on at the docked Queen Mary? Plenty – and it’s all coming from long-deceased guests who never checked out, according to reports. Visitors report thumps, childish giggles, and heart-stopping apparitions.

Read on for a history of the ship, info on the annual Dark Harbor attraction, plus loads of spine-chilling ghost sighting tales to keep you up at night.

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Long Beach, CA is home to creepy haunt, hotel and carnival Dark Harbor aboard the famous Queen Mary. What’s the story behind this mystery ship and its haunted reputation? Read on…and shiver.

Why is the Queen Mary Haunted?

When the Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage in 1936, she was the second largest cruise liner in the world, with almost twice the tonnage of the Titanic. Famous personalities from American actors to British royals were often seen enjoying its first class amenities while crossing the Atlantic from Southampton, UK to New York City.

The ship also saw service during World War II, but reverted to a passenger ship until 1967. The ship sailed to Long Beach, California, where it’s been a combination museum, hotel and tourist attraction ever since, with over 1.5 million visitors per year.

But all hasn’t all been smooth sailing aboard the Queen Mary. Crew are said to have seen 49 deaths onboard the vessel during its years of operation – including those of innocent children.

And while tragic all by themselves, the stories don’t end there.

A (Very) Extended Stay: Ghosts Roam the Queen Mary

Queen Mary HauntingsThe chilling part? Some of these visitors are said to have never checked out. The ghosts of the Queen Mary are so famous, signs have actually been installed within the ship to point out where ghosts have reportedly been spotted.

So, what are some of these stories that would make this ship one of the world’s foremost haunted attractions? Let’s take a hair-raising peek into the unearthly goings-on aboard the bloody Queen Mary.

The Grey Ghost

In World War II, the ship was painted grey as camouflage, and due to that and the fact it held the world record for speed at sea, it was nicknamed The Grey Ghost.

To avoid torpedoes, it sailed in a zig zag pattern, and once sliced through an escort warship that went off course, sinking it rapidly and drowning 338 of her 439 sailors.

Forty years later, a television crew accidentally left an audio recorder running overnight in the exact location where the collision happened – the tape played back sounds of pounding hands on a metal hull and noises of drowning sailors.

The Crushed Crewman

In 1966, a young seaman named John Peddar was crushed to death in the depths of Engine Room #13 during a drill. To this day, visitors report sightings of a young man in coveralls wandering around.

One story goes that a visitor felt something brush across his face while visiting the room, and later his wife noticed a streak of engine grease on his face. You’ll find dozens of such stories, with ethereal touches that have left their impression on frightened (and thrilled) visitors year after year.

Ghostly Swimmers

According to insiders, there have been several reports of ghosts in the first class now-empty swimming pools aboard the ship, including bathers in 1930s era swimsuits. Visitors say they can sometimes hear the sounds of splashing, and many have seen wet footprints on the tile.

In the second class pool (long since converted into a theater), a little girl named Jackie is said to have drowned, and visitors can sometimes hear her calling piteously for her mother.

They’ve also heard Jackie’s innocent laughter and singing in the first class pool and have witnessed her shadowy form clutching a tattered teddy bear.

Little Spirits in the Playroom

The ship includes a children’s playroom and nursery, where  visitors may hear children laughing and playing. In 1991, one passenger on a guided tour heard the sounds, but could only see the usual toys, games and books on the display. Then the doorknob began rattling, and the terrified tourist heard the sound of the door being kicked.

The woman quickly went to catch up with the rest of the tour group, but felt her purse and shirt constantly being tugged along the way. It seems someone needed a play companion.

A much darker spirit is that of a little infant named Leigh, who tragically died a few hours after birth (though not without the doctors trying in vain to save his innocent life.) Some ship guests can still hear the last wails of the baby while passing what was once the third-class playroom.

The Woman in White

A “regular” ghost seems to reside in the ship’s first class lounge – a beautiful woman in a white evening gown is often seen dancing alone within the shadows.

On one tour, a little girl, who had never heard of the sighting, kept pointing and asking about a “woman in white.” Nobody else saw the apparition, but the girl insisted she was there, and continued watching it dance.

A Lonely But Playful Girl

In 2000, a hotel service member was vacuuming the carpet in the Exhibit Hall when the temperature suddenly dropped. Turning around, he saw a little girl sucking her thumb and floating in the air.

The child then stretched her arms out, as if wanting to be picked up. Her eyes appeared to be glowing. Terrified, the crew member fled and reported the incident.

A few weeks later, while leaving the Grand Salon on R Deck, another cleaning crew member was pushing his mop and bucket. The bucket suddenly jammed, so the worker checked to see what was stopping the wheels. He felt a presence, and turned around to see a little girl in a white dress and white hat sucking her thumb.

As with the other sighting, the ghostly child was floating in mid-air and oddly, appeared to have no legs beneath her wispy gown. She floated away into the Grand Salon, where the doors had mysteriously shut (they were normally kept open). The doors swung out so powerfully, they knocked the employee to the floor. As he struggled to get back up, the worker heard the girl’s chillingly playful laughter recede in the distance.

The next day the worker checked the (open) doors, and realized they were much too heavy to be swung shut by one person.

Cabin B340

Cabin B340 Queen Mary hauntingsCabin B340 has had so much paranormal activity, it’s now closed for rentals.  Previously, guests sleeping in the room were awakened in the night by lights turning on and off, water gushing suddenly from faucets, and covers being pulled off the beds. Other guests have heard an angry voice saying “Get out!”

There are two famous stories involving this cabin. The first is that in 1948 it was used as a holding cell for a deranged man who had been threatening his family. When the family visited later, the man flew into an inexplicable rage and murdered his 5-year old-daughter.

The second story involves a crew member who was murdered in the room in 1937; guests say that his ghost still resides there.

The Piano Player

One evening, a mother and daughter staying aboard the Queen Mary for the night were waiting for a friend to join them. The night wore on, until at at close to midnight, the daughter decided to sit at the lobby’sgrand piano, which had been constructed especially for the Queen Mary in the 1930’s.

The lid on the keyboard was down, but suddenly a tinkling, eerie melody emerged from  beneath it.

Both the daughter and mother heard the spooky tune. The two wisely decided to wait for their friend on deck instead.

The Dark Harbor Haunt

Queen Mary Dark Harbor EventMany people would list the Queen Mary as among the top world destinations for hauntings. To celebrate, the ship puts on a frightful Halloween bash every year. It features 7 mazes and attractions, as well as a complex for live entertainment, food and cocktails.

To enter the haunt, visitors must first pass through a 220 foot long, fog-shrouded tunnel of shipping containers containing ghouls and monsters. They then emerge at “Hell’s Bells Tower,” a 33-foot tower made of shipping containers and which shoots flames into the night sky.

Throughout the mazes, pyrotechnical and other spooky special effects keep visitors spooked and their skin crawling. Such attractions include “Containment” where the ship’s infirmary gets a bit sick, “Submerged” where it feels like you’re sinking (the ship almost sunk once due to a rogue wave on choppy seas), and “The Village of the Damned” where creatures attempt to make you their permanent residents.

The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is not to be missed for hardcore Halloween fans. Get more info here – and remember: don’t visit any area of the ship alone after midnight!

Into the Arcane Music of Midnight Syndicate

Whenever I build a Halloween haunt, a horror soundtrack is always running through my mind – while planning this year’s layout (always a maze), hiding the monster props in nooks, and decorating the rooms. A house is not a creepy Victorian mansion until you add the lighting, the fog and, of course, the creepy soundtrack dripping in the background.

Most of you have heard of Midnight Syndicate. A decade and a half in business, Edward Douglas, along with Gavin Goszka, has been creating dark music specifically for Halloween. You can hear them at haunted attractions, parties and amusement parks. Their award-winning music has been featured on television, video games (like Balder’s Gate 2), Hugh Hefner’s Halloween bash, concerts by The Misfits and King Diamond, and movies such as Robert Kurtzman’s The Rage.

This month, the band releases their 14th studio album, Carnival Arcane. Each album takes the listener on a journey to imaginary places, be it haunted Victorian manors, abandoned insane asylums or gothic cemeteries. Their latest work gives the listener a creepy and mystical taste of walking through an early 20th century traveling carnival.

Midnight SyndicateToday we have the pleasure of speaking with Edward Douglas, composer, filmmaker, writer and horror aficionado. As founder of Midnight Syndicate in 1995, he began his career by producing his own feature film straight out of college, called The Dead Matter (which was remade alongside Robert Kurtzman in 2007.)

HA: In listening to your albums, I’m transported to a certain location, be it a mansion, cemetery, or some fantasy orc lair. Every year you come out with something new, and this year it will be a traveling carnival. What’s your typical thought processes and inspiration for deciding which landmark or motif to focus on for a new album?

ED: Everything has been done before, so it’s really about picking a theme that sparks our imagination and then putting our own spin on it. The concept for our new CD, Carnival Arcane, was a really fun one because the very idea of a “dark, turn-of-the-century traveling carnival” conjures so many images and ideas. Those images and ideas translate to the songs and soundscape we create.

Gavin and I have a particular fascination with the paranormal so that element works into just about every disc we do in some way or another. History, particularly the Victorian and Edwardian eras, is another big source of inspiration for us so when we can set one of our discs in those time periods (like we did Gates of Delirium, The 13th Hour, and Carnival Arcane) it’s especially intruguing to us. There’s so many worlds and motifs to explore, that’s what keeps it interesting and exciting for us.

HA: Back when I was a teen, I would blast out the soundtrack to Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser for the trick or treaters. What made you decide to specifically compose “Halloween music” as the focus of your career? After all, your education is as a filmmaker.

Born Of The Night by Midnight SyndicateED: Although most of my education was in film and theatre, music was my first love and I’ve been playing music since I was very young. In 1992, I came up with the idea for Midnight Syndicate – this band that would merge sound effects (circa classic radio dramas like The Shadow) and music (mostly instrumental) to create CDs that would be “soundtracks to imaginary films.” The goal of these CDs would be to transport the listener to a world or movie of their own creation.

In addition to music, a love of horror, fantasy, Halloween, and the paranormal has always been a constant in my life. As a result, virtually every creative endeavor I’ve undertaken, be it film, writing, or music, has had a darker or fantastic side to it. That’s how Midnight Syndicate’s first all-horror-themed “Halloween” disc, Born of the Night came about in 1998. At that time there were no quality Halloween music CDs. The only options you had (outside of horror movie scores) was cheap, recycled sound effects cassettes, and light-hearted Monster Mash-type party compilations.

The thing was, there was a real demand for good, quality, creepy, non-cheesy Halloween atmosphere from the amusement parks, haunted attractions, gothic music fans, and Halloween aficianados that took their parties and decorating for the trick-or-treaters seriously. Midnight Syndicate was able to fill that void – first with Born of the Night and then continuing with each of our subsequent releases. We quickly became the second largest supplier of Halloween music to the Halloween retail industry (the largest are the Monster Mash folks) and the largest supplier the haunted house and amusement park industries and have remained there for the past thirteen years. Gavin and I are fortunate because (as people who live for Halloween ourselves) we are able to write the music and explore the themes we love while making our fans happy.

HA: I notice that the song tracks on your albums read like film sequences. For instance, on your album The 13th Hour, it starts with the song Mansion in the Mist, continues to The Drawing Room, then builds to Footsteps in the Dust. Near the conclusion, you have titles such as Gruesome Discovery and Return of the Ancient Ones.

ED: We want to give you “just enough” with the song titles and the CD packaging to help spark your imagination. However, our prime directive, as it were, is to not impose our own interpretation of what’s going on in a CD upon the listener. We want to leave it all up to you. That’s one reason I love instrumental music so much. Every listener can interpret it differently, see different things in it. There are no lyrics or words to even lead you a certain way.

HA: When composing an album, do you construct a fully formed movie in your mind before you begin, which then inspires a soundtrack, or do you think of the music first, which then creates this imaginary landscape?

ED: After determining the world we want to create (an insane asylum, traveling carnival, vampire’s crypt) we do a lot of research (both fiction and non-fiction literature, movies, art, etc.). From there we begin to add detail to the world, creating the people, places, and things the listener will experience. The music comes through that. Sometimes we do formulate an ambiguous storyline but only as a sort of rough guide.

HA: You’ve worked with Robert Kurtzman a few times, and released some music videos. Any plans for future work with movies and videos, or producing more soundtracks to films? Where do you see Midnight Syndicate headed in the near future?

ED: We will definitely be producing more music videos. The Dead Matter was really well-received. That, and Bob’s great team, is going to allow us to do another film in the future. The focus of Midnight Syndicate will always be the music, though. Gavin and I really loved working on Carnival Arcane and can’t wait to get started on the next disc. We are getting more offers for custom work, too (like movie scoring, etc.) so I see that continuing as well – complimenting our regular Midnight Syndicate CD releases.

Carnival ArcaneHA: You’re newest album, Carnival Arcane, transports the listener to a turn-of-the (last) century carnival, complete with mystics, freaks, fortune tellers and rusty circus rides. Listening to it, there was a definite undercurrent of sinister shadows and macabre dealings, as if peeking through a tent would yield something monstrous and terrifying. What was your inspiration for this album?

ED: I did a lot of research on traveling circuses, in particular those from the late-Victorian and Edwardian eras (which were part the traveling carnivals’ heyday). That historical research yielded a lot of the inspiration for the themes, music, and especially the sound design on this disc.

We really want to make you feel like you are at this carnival, exploring the various tents. Gavin has a solo project called Parlormuse where he recreates and performs authentic Victorian-era music. That served as musical inspiration for tracks like Under The Big Top. Of course, the Lancaster-Rigby Carnival has more than a few skeletons in its closet so there is definitely the sinister element you mentioned.

The primary inspiration for that part of the disc is Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. We had so much fun working on this disc. It’s definitely one of my favorites and features some of our most advanced sound design to date. I’d like to invite folks to stop by our website, www.MidnightSyndicate.com or check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/midnightsyndicate. There you will find out more about we do, be able to hear samples from our CDs, etc.