Updated: Nov 10, 2019
I’ve always felt a lure to the west coast, and of course – I’ve always had an interest in all things spooky. So, it should come as no surprise that I’ve been long familiar with Dark Harbor – California’s premier annual haunt, taking place aboard the RMS Queen Mary at Long Beach. My little black heart skipped a beat when I heard that the folks behind Dark Harbor were making their way to Orlando to bring forth Central Florida’s newest haunt – Dark Horizon. Every year we make sure to locate one new haunt for spooky season, and I just knew this one would be a doozy!
So… was it?
Short answer… YES! But there’s a lot more to share than just a flat recommendation. If you’re a fan of haunts, frights, and spooktacular firey, aerial things that go bump, slither, and hiss in the night, consider this a “know before you go” to prepare for your inevitable visit to Dark Horizon.
Dark Horizon: Point of No Return takes place at the Holiday Inn and Suites (formerly Nickelodeon Hotel) on Continental Gateway Drive. Please be advised that parking is off-site, just off 192 at International Drive. The lot is marked, and parking costs $20. There is a free shuttle to take you to the event space at the hotel. Of course, you can also stay on-site to maximize your experience. We’ve stayed here in the past, and highly recommend it for a great staycation option!
The show begins from the moment the gates open, and it surrounds you the entire time you’re within the confines of the event space. The horrors are not relegated to the houses themselves. In fact, our entire party felt that we may have enjoyed the street performers, stage shows, and all the opportunity for random encounters in-between even more than the houses themselves! When the “extras” are good enough to almost steal the show – you just know you’ve got something good going on… am I right?
The complete Dark Horizon experience consists of three haunted houses, two live entertainment stages, multiple immersive bars, private party Bootlegger Bungalows, snack shacks, a 4-D maze experience, and more. (Find out about signature specialty drinks, food menus, and a hidden bar here.) The haunted attractions are constructed around three distinct themes, each harkening to shadows of Florida’s history, myths, and legends.
Ghostship – In “The Port” zone, guests will find the Bootlegger Bungalows, Walk the Plank Pub, Siren Stage, Shark Bites, and Ghostship – “a disease-infested, loot-filled vessel adrift on the high seas” run by Captain Killigrew, the most feared female pirate in history.
Vodou – “The Village” area is home to Sacred Circle Stage, Shelter Patio, and the swampy bogs of the Vodou haunted house overseen by the enchanting Mambo Cècile.
Murder Island – Edgar “Bloody” Watson is the man in charge of the madness at Murder Island in “The Glades” zone – also home to the VIP Storm Cellar, Outpost Pub, and Gator Grub.
Overall, the Ghostship house was my favorite, but the makeup and theming behind the Vodou story was above and beyond impressive. I could easily spend multiple nights just hanging out in the event space, soaking up the atmosphere and observing over a few drinks – which are affordably priced, by the way… bonus points!! This works beautifully as a pop-up event – even better than I expected. The talent is unmistakably on point. There is simply not a weak link in the chain.
It’s more than clear than an exceptional amount of thought and consideration went into this entire concept as a whole. This is more than a haunted attraction – it’s a full-scale production, and one that I sincerely hope to see return next year.
Don’t miss our Dark Horizon opening ceremony video here!