Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA
Happy #MonsterMonday! Yes, I'm absolutely shameless in coming up with alliterative day-of-week hashtags to support posting more Halloween content in November. With all the events we covered, October just can't hold them all, so you're just going to have to set your Christmas anticipations aside and stomach the spoopy for just a while more.
Today's update takes us to last Wednesday at Dark Harbor, when the Queen Mary event celebrated its closing night of the season as well as its annual Día de los Muertos embrace while hosting a convergence of sliders all across Southern California for its second annual Sliders Unite unity show.
We featured an in-depth, journalistic style article on Sliders Unite last year after its inaugural run, so click on the link to find out more backstory and history of sliding and how this ground breaking event came together. Seeing the event's success last year, Queen Mary elected to run the Sliders Unite show on two nights this year: Wednesday, October 25 and Wednesday, November 1. We were able to be on hand for the second of these evenings to take in the festivities and unique atmosphere.
Monsters on the Midway
Perhaps most interesting about the Sliders Unite nights was that they were the only time when monsters from each of Southern California's "Big Four" haunts--Knott's Scary Farm, Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, Dark Harbor, and Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest--could be seen prowling the streets together and scaring guests in unison. It proved to be a most curious but also exciting sight, because here were monsters from other parks, doing their same actions but in completely foreign settings. But it was cool to see these scare actors work in unfamiliar settings, interacting with guests and adjusting the psychology and process of their scares to accommodate the new scenery.
Día de los Muertos Costume Contest
Dark Harbor also held a costume contest for guests who came in costume. Normally, guest costumes are not allowed, as it could confused them with the actual monsters. But to celebrate the spirit of the end of the season, Dark Harbor allows guests to enter in costume on Halloween Night and the evening after.
Sometime around 10:30 or so, The Ringmaster and Scary Mary appeared on the main stage and conducted the contest proceedings. Finalists were called to show off their outfits, and a crew of judges was brought out to the front to evaluate the candidates. First place received $500, while second and third place netted $350 and $150 respectively. Not shabby for dressing up! And the resulting people watching provided some fun observations!
One of Dark Harbor's absolute strong suits is its widespread variety in entertainment. Whereas places like Horror Nights only have one show, and Scary Farm has only two, Dark Harbor has a plethora of them. They're primarily short and exist more as skits or tailored specialty performances, but they provide entertainment for passers by, guests waiting in lines, or even the fans who follow said shows. Here are photos from just a couple of them.
The Slider Show
Of course, the point of the entire night was the Slider Show, participated in by members of Universal, Knott's, Six Flags, and Dark Harbor. Overlapping these folks was talent from the Decayed Brigade sliding troupe, who came with full representation--both as sliders in the show and sideline support!
The show was a fun choreography of disparate monsters coming together to perform stunts and athletic maneuvers with unfamiliar partners. It was surreal to see monsters from all these typically competing haunts working with each other and thrilling the crowds together. Knott's, Universal, Six Flags, and Dark Harbor, plus representation from the Decayed Brigade sliding troupe, together made for a fun interaction. And in a particular treat for haunt fans, they even had Todd Stubbler--"Slider1" and the original innovator of sliding into the form we know today--join the show and perform with slides and jumps! This was an exceptionally nerd-exciting moment (I say that as a total Haunt nerd).
Similar to the regular Dark Harbor sliding show and some of the recent Decayed Brigade shows we've covered, there was some semblance of pre-planned choreography. The tribute to Nightmare on Elm Street and the slider limbo and jump segments were wonderfully put together, clearly showcasing the athletic prowess of these talented monsters. There were definitely some risky jumps attempted, and the long jump series near the end certainly showcased just how challenging and impressive sliding could actually be.
Make no doubt about it; sliders do literally risk health and injury to themselves with some of these maneuvers, but that only brings greater appreciation to the craft they have honed. The Slider show performed to a packed house and provided a really fun and tantalizingly entertaining taste of the capabilities of sliders across haunts all around Southern California. Once upon a time, this type of entertainment could be seen at Knott's Scary Farm. Perhaps events like this will demonstrate the demand that still exists for such shows.
If photos don't do the Slider Show justice (and they don't, really), we have some video from the second show of the night for your viewing pleasure!
Last year, when we reported on the Sliders Unite show, we noted how co-originator, Lee Cooper ("Evil" on the Dark Harbor sliders) expressed a sincere interest in bringing this event back. It looks like he was certainly successful, and the draw was clearly present, with greater than normal crowds brought in by fans eager to witness a unique event and support their favorite haunts. The cooperative spirit of this event is an admirable and honorable one. Though there is always some amount of competitive rivalry that is understandable, the haunt family ultimately is one, and we should all be confident in supporting each other rather than snark and tear others down.
The second slider show also closed the book on another Dark Harbor season. My main critiques noted from the opening night report remain largely the same, but this haunted seaside carnival still maintains a fun presence and enjoyable event, and a significant part of that comes from the shows put on. Lets hope to see Sliders Unite make a return again next year. It certainly warrants it!
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.