As always, there’s plenty of Halloween-themed fun to be enjoyed in Orlando’s theme parks this year. But there are several real-life spooky stories associated with the area too!
The Ellis Exclusive Villas team has been looking into some of the real-life, local ghost stories about the haunted locations around Orlando’s theme parks and the wider Orlando and Central Florida area.
So, if you’re interested in going beyond the theme parks to find out about Orlando’s ghoulish and unnerving goings-on, check out the locations on this spooky list.
#1. Walt Disney’s apartment ghost story
While Disney World, Orlando is our favourite Walt Disney theme park, it seems that the man himself might have stuck around in the California park! In July 1954, Walt Disney moved into a small apartment on the Disneyland site so he could oversee the theme park’s construction ahead of its grand opening in July 1955. According to local legend, it’s possible the legendary cartoonist never left!
One evening, a cast member turned off the lights and locked up only for the light in the apartment’s front window to come back on again. She went in, turned off the lights again and, when she again tried to leave, the light was on again.
It’s now a tradition to leave the light on in an apartment above the Firehouse on Main Street at Disneyland every night as a tribute to Walt… spooky!
#2. Disney World’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride
Meanwhile… back in Orlando… Like the rest of the attractions at Disney World, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride is no stranger to screams of enjoyment. But legend has it that, if you don’t tread carefully, some decidedly more frightened screams could result.
No one’s certain whether the story of a local welder called George who was killed during the construction of the attraction is really true, but believing in him might be a good precaution if you’re going to ride this attraction!
It’s said that the cast members who work on the ride in the day or close it up at night like to bid George good morning and good night. It’s said that failing to keep him appeased in this way has resulted in some very strange occurrences… and, whatever you do, don’t say that you don’t believe in George while you’re on the ride… it’s said George will stop the ride if you do!
#3. Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando
If you’re looking for ghosts, it’s almost common sense to head to the local cemetery… and Greenwood Cemetery certainly adheres to that notion.
As well as being home to the tombs and mausoleums of some of Orlando’s most prominent families, the cemetery has several spooky stories attached to it. Local legend has it that in certain areas of the cemetery, you can hear the disembodied sounds of children’s laughter.
Meanwhile, just outside the mausoleum of Fred Weeks, you may spot the cemetery’s most famous long-dead resident. There have been several sightings of Fred lurking just outside his final resting place.
#4. Ceviche restaurant, downtown Orlando
If wandering around cemeteries isn’t your particular idea of fun, dining out at Orlando’s popular Ceviche restaurant used to be a much more appealing way to get your ghost story fix.
Ever since the tapas bar opened for business, tales of spooky goings-on have been reported – mostly linked to the building’s former roles as city hotel and, before that, a local church. Most of the sightings centre on a woman wearing nineteenth-century clothing who is said to linger by the bar. But some report unseen hands that pull at clothing. And some mention a ghostly priest!
However, in June we heard the sad news that Ceviche Orlando is closing its doors permanently, as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
You’ll now need to head over to St Pete to enjoy Ceviche’s delicious tapas – and while the food should be as tasty, you can’t expect the ghostly sightings!
#5. Motel ghost, International Drive
Staying in your own vacation home with a private pool (and, at the moment, the easy social distancing) is always better than staying in a hotel in our humble opinion (although we might be slightly biased!)… but nowhere is this more true than in room 206 of the Super 8 motel on International Drive, Orlando.
Room 206 is said to be impossible to heat and the room feels cold in the heat of day – even with the air conditioning turned off! Guests have also claimed to see an imprint of a human body appear on the sheets, even when nobody has been there! And some guests have been woken by the feeling of someone else in bed beside them or by the bed suddenly shaking violently in the night!
We definitely prefer the good night’s sleep of our own vacation homes!
#6. Princeton Hospital, Orlando
Ok, so it’s an unlikely vacation destination (we hope!) but this hospital is definitely part of Orlando’s spooky folklore! The psychiatric hospital is said to be haunted by the spirits of patients by the doctors, nurses and other staff who work there.
The second and third floors, in particular, are said to be host to strange paranormal goings-on, with lights flickering on and off, unexplained knocking sounds, freewheeling wheelchairs drifting along corridors and disembodied moans and voices.
#7. Cassadaga, Florida
Cassadaga is famous for its paranormal activity. The town is home to a local spiritualist camp. Located just off the I4 on the way to Daytona, Cassadaga is the place to go to meet healers and spiritualists, but it also has its fair share of spooky stories.
In the centre of town, the Cassadaga Hotel is supposedly haunted, as is the eerily named Devil’s Chair in the Lake Helen Cassadaga cemetery. It seems only natural that the place named locally as “the psychic capital of the world” should be particularly attractive for visitors from beyond the grave…
#8. St Augustine, Florida
There are many compelling reasons to make a day trip to St Augustine from one of our vacation homes in Orlando: the food, the seasonal events, the history, the beaches… The town was once the state capital of Florida and its historic sites are well worth exploring.
The iconic St Augustine lighthouse is said to be haunted by the ghosts of the Pettee girls. Their father was working on the lighthouse construction when they drowned in the sea a short distance away. Today, visitors to the lighthouse report hearing sounds of the children’s laughter and footsteps on the lighthouse’s many stairs.
Meanwhile the sprawling site of St Augustine’s seventeenth-century Castillo de San Marcos fortress has a number of ghost stories attached to it. Visitors report seeing a lovesick woman in white. While others report seeing the ghost of a Seminole man who leaps from the fortress walls.
#9. Tampa Theatre, Tampa, Florida
Beautiful old buildings seem to attract tales of hauntings and the Tampa movie theatre is no exception. This gorgeous theatre building was built in 1926. It is said to be haunted by one of the projectionists who worked there from 1930 until 1965, when he died of a heart attack in the projection room.
Since then, employees have reported many spooky and paranormal events that have happened, especially when they are alone in the theatre!
Although the theatre isn’t open at the moment, you can do your bit to support this local non-profit institution by streaming movies from its website. In honour of the season, there’s a whole range of ghostly, ghoulish and downright scary movies to enjoy.
This year, brave souls can also sign up to SpiritsFest – an exclusive online Halloween event. Sign up to receive a code to access an exclusive evening of LIVE-streaming entertainment, starting at 7:00pm Saturday night. And you can also purchase SpiritsFest sampling-to-go boxes for $95 featuring four spirited seasonal cocktails.
#10. Complex 34, Kennedy Space Centre, Florida
Now that SpaceX has revitalised the local space industry, heading over to the east coast to see a rocket launch is a must-do while in Orlando: you’re guaranteed a really amazing day trip from one of our Orlando vacation homes if you time your trip right.
It’s around a 50-minute drive to get to the East Coast beaches and, while you’re there, a trip around the Kennedy Space Centre is an absolute must!
However, the location isn’t without its share of spooky stories either. The terrible tragedy of the three astronauts who died in a cabin fire on the launch pad of Complex 34 is well known. The launch pad was immediately closed down and now Launch Complex 34 is maintained as the memorial site for the crew of Apollo 1.
In normal times, you can visit the site on official tours. Visitors who do have reported a variety of paranormal activity taking place there, including a mysterious screaming. Many who have visited the site report a feeling a sudden and overwhelming sense of dread.
Want to live the Orlando adventure for yourself? Book your visit!
Spooky stories abound – as you can see! If this has whet your appetite for some spooky Halloween fun, read our guide to the Halloween fun that’s happening at Florida’s theme parks this fall season.
Check out our vacation homes near Disney World Orlando: