One of Southern California’s signature haunts, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, has just announced their 2012 dates and new haunt offerings. We first visited Queen Mary’s haunt offering (then called “Shipwreck”) back in 2000. Back then, we were impressed with the length of the mazes and the unique opportunities for scares, although the themes were all over the place (from yetis to mummies to vampires and ghouls). Being the crazed haunt fans we are, we went back every year, but each year we were a bit more disappointed than the last. And in 2008, the ship was a complete wreck with over zealous security guards and lazy monsters in Wal-Mart–quality rubber masks. Then in 2010, The Queen mary set sail on to a new course of terror into the Dark Harbor and it has been bloody good sailing ever since as last year’s haunt sustained the mystery and terrors of Dark Harbor’s ghostly legends.

Often cited as one of the most haunted places in the world, the Queen Mary announced the return of its annual Dark Harbor event this Halloween season. There will be a new maze and new characters inspired by some of the ship’s most famous spirit inhabitants adding a new dimension to the Halloween experience that blurs the lines between paranormal and reality.

Beginning October 5, Dark Harbor returns for 15 nights of terror offering a “completely unique and unpredictable experience” as guests venture through six fright-filled mazes haunted by more than 250 monsters, ghouls and sprits. New for the 2012 Halloween season is the petrifying maze, Deadrise, a WWII escort ship that helped guide the Queen Mary, at that time known as The Grey Ghost, through enemy waters until the two ships had a fatal collision. Since 1942, Deadrise has been resting in its watery grave, but The Captain has called the ship and its sailors to escort him and his ghosts and monsters as they battle against the living to reclaim Dark Harbor.

“Each year we try to expand the Dark Harbor event, and up the scare factor for our guests,” said JJ Wickham, production designer and art director of Dark Harbor. “Utilizing the well-documented haunted history of the ship for this year’s theme promises to provide guests more terrifying twists than ever before.”

Led by The Captain, this year’s event features five new characters based on the Queen Mary’s haunted history. The Captain – Captain of the Grey Ghost during WWII, he’s still protecting his undead troops. Samuel the Savage – Locked in room B340 after a violent outburst, Samuel was later found ripped apart in his room and is now locked forever in Containment – or is he? Graceful Gale – This classic beauty boarded the ship in 1939 and then disappeared without a trace. Now Gale haunts the dance floor looking for a new partner – for eternity. Half Hatch Henry – A young firefighter who was crushed by hatch #13, Henry roams the ship’s mazes looking for action. Scary Mary – The ship’s youngest soul has haunted the ship since her drowning in the pool. Mary’s always looking for a new playmate.

“Dark Harbor is unlike any theme-park haunt with its history of documented paranormal activity,” said Erika Frost, psychic paranormal expert. “Queen Mary staff members, countless guests and paranormal tour participants have experience and encountered the spirits firsthand, and as you make your way through the six mazes, you will find yourself questioning your own reality.”

Dark Harbor is not only the most unique haunted experience in Southern California but also the best value with ticket prices starting at just $20 online, with FastFright, VIP Passes and lodging packages also available.  The event also features live entertainment, food and beverages.

Dark Harbor will be open October 5-7; 12-14; 18-21 and 25-28, 31 from 7 p.m. to midnight. Visit Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Website for more information and  to purchase tickets online.