Shaqtoberfest Returns To The Queen Mary

Scarecrows wait in the Pumpkin Patch at Shaqtoberfest at The Queen Mary. / Photo by Jessica Peralta

Shaqtoberfest is back at The Queen Mary from Sept. 28 through Halloween night with a Halloween festival that is a combination of spooky entertainment, Shaq’s larger-than-life personality, and the eerie backdrop of the historic — and allegedly haunted — Queen Mary. 

Shaqtoberfest is a Halloween festival where guests can explore five haunted mazes, secret bars, carnival rides,  dark corners of the 90-year ship or just dance and party with LVCRFT. 

“It is a high energy Halloween event,” says Amy Hollaman, regional manager of event producers Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group

“When planning an event of this scale, we like to think about three things primarily. They make what we call the fright triangle. One prong is spectacle” Hollaman says.

A demented singer sings a twisted tune in The Grey Ghost at Shaqtoberfest at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif. / Photo by Jessica Peralta

Spectacle refers to things that are giant or big, she says. From giant ships with blazing cannonballs that serve as the entrance for a maze, stilt walkers surrounding guests, or a gigantic stage where the DJ’s music is blasting as guests dance along with clowns, pirates, and sailors. 

Second is the story. Each of the five mazes has its own story. Deadman’s Wharf is an old fisherman’s village where a monster or evil energy is making the weather chaotic. “As guests step through, they see that they’re in the story and they’re experiencing the sound and lighting events of the storm. They’re encountering the characters, and learning more about why this mysterious village is experiencing this other worldly storm. The story is an important secondary part, and we have different stories along all five trails,” Hollaman says. 

The third is the scare. “This is the startle, the thing that makes people jump, the thing that can be intimidating” Hollaman says. “It is the thing that makes you hesitant to turn the corner, until an actor startles you from behind and makes you propel forward more quickly than you would normally walk.” The scare is the driving force for these mazes. 

The last step of the creative process is an event-wide brainstorm. “We ask ourselves, how can we sprinkle the three factors of the fright triangle throughout this giant landscape of a Halloween event? How can we make sure we are injecting as much fun into it as possible?” 

The Grim Reaper waits at Shaqtoberfest at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif. / Photo by Jessica Peralta

And after being closed for three years, the Queen Mary’s doors have finally reopened in time for this year’s event.

“Taking something that has such a deep paranormal history, and some tragic history to be honest, combined with a Halloween event, is a great pairing” Hollaman says. “This year we do have a trail on the ship. After sitting on the dock for three years, we believe that the souls of those that perished aboard the ship have become louder and stronger than ever, and so we are bringing people back onto the ship in an attraction that we’re calling The Grey Ghost.”

Inspired by the ship’s history as a troop transport during World War II, the maze might be the most intense part of Shaqtoberfest. “There are very few ships in the entire world that someone could step into and step back in history, so it is a true honor for us to make her the main character of this attraction, and to enhance the fear factor when people are aboard” Hollaman says.

For fans of last year’s event, Hollaman says everything this year is bigger, better, and spookier.

“We had given guests a little taste of what we can bring to Long Beach before,” she says, “And this year we are really trying to knock it out of the park.”

The Gory Details: 
Shaqtoberfest Halloween Festival 
Sept. 28-Oct. 31
The Queen Mary
1126 Queens Hwy.
Long Beach, Calif. 90802