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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!

A Frankenstein Halloween Theme Party

Halloween theme parties can be a huge success, especially if you take a little extra time to plan. But there are so many different types of spooky decorations, if you’re not careful, the party can end up looking like a jumbled mess!

That’s why we recommend picking one classic Halloween character as your central theme. In this article, we give you some tips on how to throw a fabulous, freaky Frankenstein bash. Read at your own risk!

Decorations

  • Jack-o’-lanterns. Instead of the traditional toothless grin, carve your pumpkins using a Frankenstein pattern. (Here’s a great stencil book featuring Frankie and all his freaky friends.) Place your carved jacks on the walkway up to the door or put them in front of windows to welcome guests to the party.
  • Creepy Frankenstein Heads. These are so fun…and SO easy. Use them
    Credit: http://bitesizedbiggie.com

    as table centerpieces or place them on top of your gate like freaky finials. Or stuff clothing, add clunky boots and plop one of these horrifying heads on top! Simply cover foam mannequin heads with water-based or acrylic green paint and paint accents on.

  • Cobwebs, cobwebs, cobwebs. String faux webs everywhere for a dusty mad scientist’s lab look.
  • Beakers and concoctions. Purchase inexpensive plastic or glass beakers and half-fill with water. Add a few drops of blue and yellow food coloring to make an eerie green.

Treats

While we’re not entirely sure if Frankenstein’s monster actually ate “people food” (rather than simply, well…kids), your party guests mostly likely do! Here are a few monster-themed snacks for the party.

  • Frankenpops. Follow the recipe here to make these delicious
    Credit: justapinch.com

    marshmallow treats. They’re so cute…so gooey…so edible. What’s not to love?

  • Frankenstein Brownies. Buy a box of brownie mix, and bake as directed. After they’ve cooled, cut them into even rectangles. Then, frost each brownie with the frosting you like best, adding green food coloring. Use piped icing to create a mouth
    Credit: bettycrocker.com

    and hair; eyes are reversed M&Ms. Lastly, add a piece of candy corn on each side of the brownie for Frankenstein’s bolts.

  • Science Experiment Punch. Be dramatic and add some dry ice to your punch bowl, so your beverage station looks like a bubbly, messy concoction. Here are some tips and directions on how to (safely!) use dry ice at your party.

Costumes

If you’re the one throwing the party, the honor of dressing as the classic monster should be yours. Tall, green skin, flat top – you know what he looks like. This Frankenstein costume pretty much have you covered.

Not everyone can be the big guy, though, so here are a few other ideas for party goers:

  • Frankenstein’s Bride. Even monsters can fall in love. Just drape something long and white over your sensuous form and tie up at the waist. Use green Halloween makeup and a black makeup crayon for the scars. Bonus points if you don’t need a wig to get your hair to look like that.
  • Mad Scientist. There would be no monster without Dr. Frankenstein himself. These costumes are easy to find online or at your local party store. But really, it’s as simple as a white lab coat from your local consignment shop, some glasses and a really freaky, mad laugh.
  • Frankie Stein. A great way to get a tween girl excited about a “really dorky” party? Monster High. Just sayin’…

Monstrously Good Fun: Party Activities

  • Zombie Walk-Off. Set up a runway and see who has the best zombie stagger. Spectators can judge the monsters on their limp walks, expressionless faces, and chilling groans.
  • Franken-Tag. Now is the time to use what you learned during the zombie walk-off! The rules of Franken-Tag are the same as the playground game, but in this case, if you’re tagged as “it,” you can only walk like Frankenstein.
  • Mix it Yourself. Have your guests mix drinks (non-alcoholic version: use grape, apple and prune juice and various sodas). Have the other guests try to figure out what the “mad scientist” has concocted. The winner receives a small gift certificate, a creepy Halloween decoration, or any award of your choice..

The Body Part Toss Game

 

Thanks, Screaming Scarecrow Studios, for this gristly and very valuable contribution!

Why do most haunters haunt? Because we have tons of fun doing it!

From building spooky props to putting together creepy Halloween costumes to scaring the pants off trick-or-treaters and rewarding them with candy, we just plain love it. Most Halloween haunters find all aspects of home haunting fun!

With that in mind, and in an effort to provide our Halloween guests with more gruesome entertainment, the lurking lunatics at Screaming Scarecrow Studios have put together the following simple game.

Our Body Part Toss Game, or BPTG, was relatively cheap and simple to build and it should last a good number of years.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • plywood (see below)
  • supporting wood, if desired (see below)
  • nails
  • plastic body parts (buy these BEFORE shaping and cutting your holes so you know how large to make them)
  • jigsaw
  • red paint
  • white paint
  • old clothing
  • expanding foam

SOMETHING TO TOSS BODY PARTS AT:

Start out with a 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood. Plywood may cost a bit more (look for deals),  but it will accept paint better and last longer in the outdoor elements.

We chose cheap, quarter inch thick, spruce plywood (rough not finished). This made the finished product light and portable.

Quarter inch plywood may occasionally be a bit flimsy, so we screwed a 2” x 2” wood frame to the back of the plywood. This not only gave the BPTG rigidity it also gave us a good solid piece of wood to screw a stand to if one was to be used.

OUTLINE YOUR VICTIM:

For this, we simply laid the plywood down on the ground and then positioned a willing victim on it. We then traced the basic sprawled body shape with a pencil.

Once this shape was traced, we cut out the holes for the parts to be tossed into during the game. We made the holes vary a bit in size and shape in order to provide different levels of challenge.

After the holes were cut and all the rough edges sanded down, we painted the plywood white. If you want your reds to pop out under any lighting, you need to put them on white! It’s an amazing (and gruesome) effect.

Once the white paint dried we created body shapes such as chest, arms and legs using stucco wire. We like using stucco wire because it makes for a stronger wire frame form.

After the wire body shapes were created we attached them to the plywood in their proper spots. We used nails for this because the portion of the nails that were sticking out the back of the quarter inch plywood could be bent over flat so they would not be sticking out dangerously.

NOTE: At our haunt, for added insurance that nobody gets poked by any protruding nails, we have an actor dressed up with a fake chainsaw retrieving the tossed body parts for our guests.

DRESSED TO DIE FOR:

After the wire body shapes were all attached to the plywood it was time to dress our victim.

In order to do this we cut the back out of an old used shirt and pair of pants that we had lying around. Next, we cut straight up the back of the legs and the arms of the pants and shirt.

With the clothing opened up in this manner we are able to wrap wire frame with the clothing, stapling the clothing to the plywood along the edges as we went.

DETAILING THE GAME:

Finally we added all the gory details, such as blood on the clothes, blood splatter on the plywood and of course, the steaming pile of entrails!

For the red paint we used high-gloss red spray paint. Painting the clothes and the areas around the holes was easy; we just used as much as we thought looked impressively splattered (see the image for reference).

Creating the blood splatter and drips was a bit tricky with spray paint. We used an ordinary stick and while the game was leaning upright and while holding the stick above the game, we sprayed the paint onto the stick (holding the nozzle close to the stick), letting the excess paint run off the stick. They ran downward. The effect was perfect.

For the final touch, we used expanding foam to make the entrails. After reinforcing the waist with extra stucco wire, we put a small chicken wire basket inside the pants so that there would be something for the expanding foam to sit on. Then we sprayed. Caution: as the name says, this expands. Use just a little, then add on.

Just some extra words of caution here: ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURE’S DIRECTIONS when using expanding foam products.

We always wear protective gear when using this stuff, especially eye safety goggles. This stuff is so sticky the only way you can clean it up is with acetone when it’s wet and a sander when its dry. You DO NOT want to get this in your eyes. We’ll say it again: be careful!

HALLOWEEN FUN WITH YOUR BPTG:

Time to play the game! Assign points depending upon how far away the hole is, whether the correct body part goes into the correct hole, and how irregularly shaped or difficult the hole is.

Thanks for reading and Happy Haunting!

 

Halloween Myths & Monsters

By Lesley Bannatyne excerpted from A Halloween How-Tohalloween seance

“I hate Halloween,” exclaims an elderly caller on an AM radio talk show in Maryland. “They should get rid of it. Kids today are just destructive.”

“Halloween glorifies Satan,” warns a preacher on national cable television. “Kids shouldn’t dress up as devils, period.”

“I would never let my children go out trick or treating alone,” confides a D.C.-area mom of her six year-old and ten-year old. “I’d never forgive myself if something happened.”

People hurl invectives at Halloween like bullets. It’s dangerous. Bang. It’s Satanic. Bang. It’s commercial. Bang. It’s too scary, too corrupted, too sanitized. Bang, bang, bang.

But when people rail against Halloween, they don’t really mean Halloween. What they usually mean is let’s get rid of vandalism, or begging, or slasher movies. (The actual holiday serves a need so human we’ll probably still be celebrating when the ice cap melts and we’re all trick or treating in powerboats.) And the more popular Halloween gets, the more we hear about the down side: razor blades in apples, black cat kidnappings, Satanic rituals. What’s true, exaggerated, or just plain made-up? Let’s turn on the light and see what’s a monster and what’s simply a coat tree casting a shadow on the wall.

Halloween Myths: True or False? Halloween is a Holiday for Witches. True. Samhain (sow-en), celebrated on October 31st, is one of eight major seasonal holidays marked by many contemporary witches and neopagans.

Modern-day pagans use solstices and quarter days to mark the turning points of the year. Samhain’s reserved for honoring ancestors and remembering loved ones who’ve died, and for acknowledging the cyclical nature of living and dying.

Although practices vary widely, most will gather for a ritual. There’s nothing Satanic involved. Nor are there sacrifices, invocations of evil, or naked orgies. The meeting place (be it inside or out) would likely be lit with candles and jack-o-lanterns, and decorated with harvest fruits and vegetables. People would enter quietly and gather in a circle. There might be a brief invocation of a goddess or god to provide wisdom, or a guided visualization to help participants understand the process of death and rebirth. Participants might remember people in their lives who have died recently, express grief, and share memories. The ritual might include some scrying (looking into the future) and conclude with everyone dancing to the beat of a drum and chanting. Samhain is a time of death–of the summer and the fields–but within the frozen ground are beginnings of new life, and the goddess will return at the appointed time. The earth will green.

Satanic cults use Halloween to perform ritualistic crimes. False. There are two questions to address here. First, to what extent do Satanic cults or ritualistic crimes really exist? And secondly, what’s Satan’s connection to Halloween?

Encyclopediaist J. Gordon Melton calls Satanism “the world’s largest religion that does not exist.” The largest organized Satanist-style cults such as the Church of Satan or the Temple of Set (never more than a few hundred members in their heyday) are now largely dormant, and Melton has discovered that most practicing Satanic cults usually number three to five people and last only a few months. There is no religious denomination or even any cult today celebrates the Devil on Halloween, not even so-called Satanists, since they don’t acknowledge the existence of any higher power including Satan. In addition, there are no confirmed statistics, court cases, or studies to support the idea that serious Satanic cult crime even exists (for a good study of Satanic cult activity in America today, read Jeffrey Victor’s Satanic Panic). It turns out that most of the devil-worshipping activity reported in the media is perpetrated by teenagers based on what they’ve read in church literature or seen in movies.

So how did Satan get tied to Halloween? Satan didn’t come into the formula until the 14th through 17th centuries-loosely, the time of the witch craze-when witches were thought to make a pact with the Devil at their rituals. Fears of witchcraft and Satanic rituals had abated with the Enlightenment, and by the 20th century, pointy black hats and red horns were simply part of the fun of Halloween. But films like Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, and all the Halloween movies (among many, many others) have etched a more detailed, modern persona for the Devil in our imaginations. When Hollywood started to mine Halloween imagery for terror, churches become more vocal about celebrating Halloween, and rumors of Satanic rituals grew rampant.

It may simply be that Halloween’s symbols are incendiary. In our image-based society, somewhere along the line we began to confuse symbols of death with those of Hell. I suspect it’s Hollywood, more than anything else, that helped put the hell in Halloween.

Black cats are in danger on Halloween. Rarely, but yes. Over the past decade or so newspapers have run several stories about black cats being abducted and used in occult rites on Halloween–there’ve been reports of mysterious animal bone graveyards and satanic symbols drawn on and around cats. What you don’t usually see is the terse follow-up story, several weeks later and not nearly on the front page, explaining that no abduction occurred, or that the bones were part of a known animal graveyard.

Around 1997, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) instituted a better-safe-than-sorry policy and advised against the adoption of black cats three days before and after Halloween. In that year, the organization got suspicious when a woman adopted a black cat, but when the ASPCA made a follow-up call to see how the cat was doing, the woman reported the cat was dead. When ASPCA workers came to pick up the body, they discovered she’d given a phony address. The investigation of the case halted there. Was the cat harmed? Was it somehow related to Halloween? We won’t ever know. But taking a proactive approach seemed the Society’s safest choice.

As of 2001, the staff of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) had not personally witnessed a case of black cat abuse at Halloween (in fact, most shelters report no such cases). It has, however, reported hearing stories, and so recommended protection of black cats around Halloween.

The threat is not all smoke and mirrors. There have been a few, highly publicized incidents of black cat abuse around Halloween–I was able to find and track a dozen reported incidents between 1992 and 1999 (for comparison, in roughly the same time period, an estimated 2500 dogs and cats had died or suffered during air travel, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture). Upon further investigation, some cases turned out to be unrelated to Halloween or black cats: two of the cats were unharmed, only seven of the incidents involved black cats (as opposed to brown cats or tabbies), and it’s difficult to document how many happened on or near Halloween (either the shelters had gone out of business or the staff could not remember). In the only case that was prosecuted, the perpetrators were teenagers. Oftentimes, confusing the issue, journalists report examples of animal abuse that have taken place at other times of the year in articles about black cat abuse at Halloween. As a result, the sense of a crisis exists where there are only unrelated, isolated incidents, none of them involving ritual sacrifice by Satanic cults, but rather cruelty and crimes committed by individuals.

The increased media, however, does give the shelters and humane societies a chance to educate the public about pet safety. For those who love and care for cats, saving even one life makes any effort worthwhile.