Long Beach is haunted.
Or at least, the Queen Mary is.
Don’t believe me? Don’t believe there are restless spirits, stranded souls still lingering on board the haunted ship docked in this city’s very own harbor? Then take a tour and find out for yourself.
Two of us from the Daily Forty-Niner risked life and limb to bring you the tale of our ghostly adventures. Well, maybe not exactly life and limb, but when exploring below the deck of a ship built 80 years ago, it sure felt like we were risking something.
The first thing we did with our passport was attend the Ghosts & Legends of the Queen Mary special effects show. This tour may feel like a walk-through Disneyland Haunted Mansion, only on this tour the stories are real and there are no “Grim Grinning Ghosts” singing songs.
Ghosts & Legends starts with a short film highlighting the Queen Mary’s history before a show guide leads you into locations rumored to be haunted. And better yet, according to our show guide of the day, Ben, “The ones who have the most ghost sightings are the ones who get lost, following their own self-guided tours.”
Needless to say, we stuck close to the group. The Queen Mary, even if it weren’t so dark and reputedly haunted, is one ocean liner labyrinth we were not about to get lost in. There are doors and decks galore in a wonderfully claustrophobic setting that even an old Wolfenstein 3D veteran like myself couldn’t figure out.
After the film, the show guide pulled back a vault door and inside the Queen Mary we went, not knowing what to expect from this floating haunted house. One major stop was the first class swimming pool, a spot Ben declared was full of phantom phenomenon as he said, “This is one place you don’t want to explore – alone.”
We also explored the old boiler rooms and G Deck. All in all, with our excellent guide Ben and creepy setting, the Ghosts & Legends tour is a wonderful re-enactment of famous Queen Mary sightings and stories. It will remind you of Disneyland and Universal Studios while teaching you about one of Long Beach’s greatest and most historic attractions.
After the tour, we headed out of the bowels of the ship and into the light for a not-your-ordinary-run-of-the-mill milkshake at California Shakes in the Land of Fruits and Nuts, a nationally-acclaimed California-only products and milkshake store. As John Travolta in “Pulp Fiction” might have put it, it was the best $5 milkshake we’ve ever had.
Third was the Ghost Encounters Tour, led by another tour guide who has made TV appearances in shows like the Sci-Fi Channel’s “Ghost Hunters.” This tour was less theatric than Ghosts & Legends but nonetheless captivating.
The tour took us to many places each with a corresponding story of haunted sightings of the Queen Mary. Most notable were two ghost “vortexes,” areas where unusual activity is often reported (or something cool like that!).
And sure enough, while visiting an incredibly dark former changing room hallway adjacent to one of the ship’s pools, we at the Daily Forty-Niner were standing in the hotspot center of the vortex, according to the tour guide.
Those who also incidentally stood in the spot have reported creepy activity such as unusually cold air or finding scratch marks on themselves afterward. Fortunately, I couldn’t find scratches of any kind on me after leaving that small ghostly abandon – yet.
But during the visit to the other vortex, Diversions Editor Brigid McGuire felt an unusually cold breeze coming from somewhere mysterious just after the tour guide pointed out that, yet again, our specific standing spot was the very center of the vortex. This vortex was in the middle of an airtight boiler room, a room with no windows and below the water line.
Was it a figment of her imagination? Ghosts, even? Not even the Daily Forty-Niner will ever know for sure.
You can find out for yourself if the Queen Mary, that haunted ship of legend and lore, is truly haunted. But I will end with this.
I’ve toured haunted places like the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, Calif., and Alcatraz in San Francisco. I’ve toured the Whaley House in San Diego, a place ranked No. 1 Most Haunted House in America by the Travel Channel and considered by the U.S. Department of Commerce as officially haunted.
I’ve even been inside Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion all by myself after the park’s closing, which is scarier than you might think!
But in my opinion, none of these places compare to the kinds of feelings you’re likely to experience when touring the decks and bowels of the Queen Mary.
Seeing the ship’s interior where boilers once worked was eerie. I kept asking myself what thing or spirit could be around the corner. Peering down hallways that look like they’re straight out of “The Shining” and have door after door and light after light while hearing ghost stories was entrancing.
Visit the Queen Mary while you’re down here, Cal State Long Beach. You won’t regret it.
The Haunted Encounters Passport includes the Ghost Encounters Tour, the Ghosts & Legends of the Queen Mary special effects show, a visit to the Paranormal Research Center and a chance to see the many Ghost Sighting plaques throughout the ship.
The passport is $25.95 for adults and $14.95 for children ages 5 to 11.
If you’re wishing for something even more spooky, visit the Queen Mary Shipwreck during October, where there are mazes, ghosts and ghouls. For more info, visit www.QueenMary.com for more information.