Trip Report: CHILL at the Queen Mary

Writing by Garett Simcox

Photography by Bishoy Ghobrial and Garett Simcox

Time for some more holiday fun! We stopped by The Queen Mary in Long Beach to check out Chill! This Holiday celebration takes place every year on the grounds of The Queen Mary. If you are familiar with their popular haunt “Dark Harbor,” then you know this location very well. The gruesome skeletons and terrifying monsters have been replaced by spirited carolers and colorful christmas lights. It’s nice to see the place so cheery after our last encounter with the haunted ship. Even from afar, The Queen Mary looks quite inviting with its sparkling smoke stacks.

They really did the place up nice for Chill. Christmas lights adorned every building and walkway, along with your standard candy canes and wreaths.

After entering the event, you are greeted by a gigantic Christmas tree that is right out of Miracle On 34th Street. Gingerbread shops and food vendors adorned the walkways.

 

I will always be amazed by the beauty of The Queen Mary. It makes for the most spectacular backdrop around. Paired with the christmas lights and the flurry of seasonal decorations, it is truly something out of a winter wonderland. You can’t find scenery like this anywhere else in the world, and that alone makes these events so special.

After perusing the vendors and food, we hi-tailed it into the dome. This is where they had their Alice and Winterland lighted garden display. Along with a merry go round and a really fun inner tube slide, this dome is where a majority of the attractions were located.

It seems they have done away with their ice sculpture roots. Prior years featured frozen ice sculptures in a maze like configuration telling whatever story they had chosen that year. A parka was graciously given to you to on loan to keep you warm through the below 0 temperature. Take a look at some of the pictures from 2015:

Alice in Winterland was pretty spectacular. It was a really fun change from last years Scrooge. The new ‘light garden’ design was very unique. The thin fabric stretched over metal forms looked really cool when lit from inside. It is a shame that the traditional ice sculpture design has been scrapped, but overall we really enjoyed this new interactive experience. On top of that, you won’t freeze your fingertips off anymore!

The maze told the story pretty well, although it seemed a bit disconnected at some points. It was basically one giant photo op with all of your favorite characters from Alice in Wonderland. Most of the scenes had an interactive element as well. Guests with an ‘Elf Pass’ received a complementary pair of bunny ears with a small chip located on the top. When you passed by an interactive display, the system would read the chip and magical things would happen all around. Most notable interactions were the Cheshire Cat appearing out of thin air, and a few wintry paintings jumping to life.

After Alice in Wonderland we had to hit the intertubes. It doesn’t matter how old you are, these are always going to be fun.

Aside from the dome, you can find a few more attractions outside. The creepy Michael Jackson swings from Dark Harbor still remain, although they seem to take on more of a nostalgic charm during the holiday event. These are indeed from Neverland Ranch.

One of the cutest attractions had to be the giant, manually operated rocking horse. I’ve only ever seen this macro version of a classic rocking horse here at Chill! According to their website, it’s the largest rocking horse in the world!

Overall it’s a pretty fun event. We decided to skip the Ice skating rink because we are lazy and out of shape. We did everything else in about an hour. If you really wanted to do absolutely everything here, you could probably circle the event in 3 hours or so. We always have a really good time at The Queen Mary events. They are so unique and really hit the spot when you’re looking to satisfy the holiday itch.

Here is my gripe with the events at The Queen Mary. It costs a LOT of money to enjoy the entire event. We were invited here to check out Chill on a Media pass, which makes it easy to enjoy since everything is free. Planning on buying a ticket? That’s $35 an adult and $25 per child (age 11 and under). Family 5 packs start at $139 and go to $150 on Saturdays. You can also buy a front of the line pass for $15 a pop, which we never had to use since the lines were empty. Want to go ice skating? That’s another $15 for a 45 minute session. Hungry? Almost all of the meals are$ 12 and over. Hot Chocolate is $5. Bottles of water are $3. General Admission gets you Alice in Winterland, Ice Tubing, A ticket to the 4D theater, and access to the event and the ship for the day. Most of what remains is an upcharge from the parking ($18), to the swings ($5), to meeting Santa Claus ($15).

The price point is really disappointing since the event is so much fun. The Queen Mary puts on a pretty elaborate attraction in such a spectacular and unique event space. What I wish they would do is fashion this event in the style of a European Christmas market. It should be free to enter, but each attraction would cost a ticket price. Hell, even if they stung me for the $18 parking, I’d still show up to the event 2 or 3 times during December. As a Long Beach local, It is so nice to have such a fantastic event right here in the city. Unfortunately, most locals don’t want to spend upwards of $50 just to park and walk into the holiday celebration, just so that they can spend even MORE money at said event. It’s even harder to justify the cost when you can easily see everything Chill offers in a few hours.

If you don’t care about the money, then definitely check out Chill at The Queen Mary. It’s fun, it’s special, and it’s in an amazing location that is worth seeing. If you are on a budget, I’d say buy those Christmas gifts before buying tickets to Chill.

We would like to thank the people at The Queen Mary for inviting us out to check out Chill! We really did enjoy ourselves at the event. Check out their website at www.QueenMary.com/events/chill and see the ship for yourself. Its pretty spectacular.