Goodnight, George… A Ghost Story
(copy/pasted from the now-defunct darkdisney blog, since the 2719Hyperion source link is dead and I’m not sure if this story exists in full anywhere else — the first place I saw it was on a blog run by sonarhydrophone that also no longer exists)
The following story appears as told in April of 2009 on 2719Hyperion.com:
What follows may rate as a bizarre exercise in nostalgia, if you will permit it. It deals with issues which may upset some people, and so if you do elect to read it I most humbly suggest that it be read wth a whimsical and open mind as I will attempt to faithfully relate the colorful stories and myths as they were first told to me which make up such a vital part of the oral tradition of the Walt Disney World “underground”. So much of this tradition is unrecorded and so the reader may, as she chooses, read the following merely as an account of the superstitions and urban legends which circulate through breakrooms and utilidors. Those of us who worked there, however, will probably never be as sure…
"The most famous faux fatality was ‘George’, the imaginary welder who was killed during the construction of Pirates of the Caribbean… […] The imaginary victim is most likely a Disneyified amalgam of the actual fatalities at Disney World.." - David Koenig,Realityland, pg. 144
The first day I ever walked into Pirates of the Caribbean was a bright Florida winter morning in 2005. I don’t mean I rode it - I walked into it, through a tunnel, around a large pool of water, opened a door which looks so real and textured from the boats but is really a painted plywood flat, and was looking right at a grotesque mannequin of a fat woman. She has no legs, just a pole extending up into her body, and up close the already garish makeup was like a clown’s face. The building was quiet and still, the water glassy and calm, and the figures were twitching. Those things move after they’re turned off, and sort of spasm occasionally at the wrist or neck. But the eeriest thing was the silence - it isn’t until you’ve seen a Disney park utterly abandoned and quiet and left to the painters and pressurewashers and mechanics that you realize that they aren’t places for human beings, and that all that warmth you feel in the bright light of day comes from that reassuring music, the faces, the people. Under worklights and powered down, those attractions are more like ghost houses, museums staffed by nobody for a crowd that may never return.
Eventually a voice issued from the PA system: “Good morning, George.”
On page 144 of Realityland, David Koenig reveals a fact which I have long suspected, which is that in his years of research he has failed to find any mention of a fatality regarding the construction of Pirates of the Caribbean, the death of a young man named George. Since Koenig’s research is otherwise maddeningly complete regarding all manner of death and dismemberment at Walt Disney World, I have no reason to doubt him. However, that does not remove the fact that for us working at Pirates of the Caribbean then and, I’m sure, to the Cast Members working there today, George was a day to day reality. He has a way of making a believer of you. A day of constant and inexplicable breakdowns, a door that will not open for you and only you, or the strange way you often feel followed while crossing one of the attraction’s many crosswalks, eventually you will meet George. Who he really is and why he responds as “George” will probably forever be a mystery.
George, the typical story goes, was a young man who, while welding or perhaps bolting a high area of the superstructure of the building which would one day become Pirates of the Caribbean, met with a horrible accident and fell to his death. From day one of the operation of the attraction - December 15, 1973 - inexplicable events plagued the attraction. Breakdowns were constant and unmotivated. Female castmemebers were mysteriously patted on their rear or had their bra straps snapped. Stories of George grew. In the early years, it is said that an old woman would often enter the ride and ask for a boat to herself. On the in-ride security cameras, she could be seen weeping and talking to nobody. Eventually, it was discovered that she was talking to her son - George.
A second component of the story comes into play surrounding the downramp, or waterfall, and it is partially confirmed by Koenig on page 144 of Realityland - although his version differs significantly from the version traditionally told. At the very bottom of the downramp, the boats take a sharp left turn to proceed into the show building. This turn is the single point the sides of the metal troth the boats ride through during the attraction poke above the water… although it is a hazard for any hand trailing in the water, the boats are safely steered through the “downramp runoff” area and into the famous scene of the pirate ship attacking the fort known as Bombardment Bay. Legend tells us that for a few months these raised metal guides were not present, which resulted in one particularly light boat hitting the bottom of the drop, hydroplaning out of the troth, and killing two women sitting in the front row. Whether by George or by fate, “The Ladies” entered into myth and became perhaps the most feared inhabitants of Pirates of the Caribbean.
George casts a long shadow over the Cast imagination. The town scenes which constitute the bulk of the Florida version of the show are contained in a single, huge room which has a large, central pillar supporting its’ roof. The top of this pillar is decorated to appear to be a multi-windowed tower, and can be seen to the right of Carlos’ house in the Well scene. If you are lucky, you may even see a lonely little light burning in it. This pillar is supposedly the one which George fell from, and his initials, carved on the bottom of the pillar, cannot be painted over - they will bleed through the paint. The tower is called “George’s Tower” - a play on the term for the ride’s central control booth overlooking the Load area, called “Tower” - and has a special trick to it. If one sees a light burning in George’s tower from the Well scene, it means that George is “home”. If you get to the fire scene and look back up to George’s Tower (the two scenes are only a few feet away from each other, on the other side of the village facades), and if that light is still burning in George’s Tower - it often is not - then something bad is about to happen.
I’ve been to the bottom of that pillar, and can verify that it does indeed feature a set of initials, a G followed by perhaps a C. It also features dozens of other bits of graffiti, and cannot vouch for their ability to bleed through paint without the aid of a less ghostly agent. I have, however, seen the light in George’s Tower go through its’ disappearing and reappearing act many times and cannot account for its’ cause. As the tower is some many dozen feet up, I was not about to climb the ladder and see if there’s really a light installed up in that tower or not. I suspect that there is none; not even at Disney are lighting fixtures so unreliable that the tower is dark more often than not.
Continuing from the base of George’s Tower, and proceeding further into the show building, one comes across an inauspicious set of steps which lead up to a door. On the “show scene” side of the door is the famous dog, keys dangling from mouth. This door is George’s Door, and it must be closed at all times. If George’s Door is left open, the ride should not be powered up in the morning. This is fine for show quality reasons in the morning, and building maintainence and Imagineering know well enough to shut it behind them. However, sometimes, the door begins the day shut and will, in the middle of the day, mysteriously creak open…. and if George’s Door is open, it is said, a serious breakdown is sure to follow. As you can imagine, if the light is on in George’s Tower andGeorge’s Door is open, it is considered to be an especially bad portent.
George is, for whatever reason, especially active in that part of the building, perhaps because it is indeed the most far-flung and least traversed portion of the ride. He seems to especially lurk around “Storage”, which is a spur line that runs underneath the burning city show scene where boats may be moved on or off the main ride path in order to be sent to or released from the maintainence bay. The spur line begins at the end of the chase scene near “Old Bill”, a figure who was in fact designed by Marc Davis especially for the Walt Disney World show so that audiences would not notice an unusually long gap in the ride; the figure was cloned and placed in a similar spot for the Disneyland show later on and the pacing of the gag is not as effective there as a result since at Disneyland “Storage In” is at the Bombardment Bay scene. Storage Out is near the Jail scene, and if you’re one of many who sometime feel a little uneasy after going under the pirate with the hairy leg and before coming upon the Jail; you may have had an encounter with George. He especially seems to be near that particular bend in the track, close to his door. Behind the faux stone show walls, a few feet down, is the cement foundation of the building. To facilitate dry passage along the edge of the spur line is a number of plastic grates laid across the floor, which is often flooded with a bit of water. Many have crossed these grates during an evacuation or during after-hours events where Cast are stationed in the ride to watch guests and heard the second pair of feet walking behind them a few grates back, and even felt cold breath on their neck. On the opposite end of the spur line, a shadowy man is sometimes seen sitting in a prop chair near Old Bill, or crossing the bridge which divides the Chase scene from the Fire scene - an impossibility since such an action would set off several alarms.
I don’t feel the need to comment too much on the customary habit of saying good morning and goodnight to George, as this is famous and needs little further explanation at this point.
What a textbook account of all these customs, traditions and/or superstitions fails to convey is the day-to-day nature of the ‘reality’ of George. The morning and evening greetings were in fact nearly mandated by management, and any deviation will result in the day’s woes being explicitly blamed on the closing Cast Member in Tower of a previous night. Switches, doors, water sensors and other basic mechanics sometimes inexplicably malfunction, causing the ride computer to enter “cycle out” mode - the Load Area gates lock and the computer enters a countdown until it will shut down the ride. This will initiate the regulated but still mad dash to fix the ride with as little disruption to the operation as possible - and resulting in the single most feared task by any new Cast Member, the need for the Unload cast member to enter the ride building and re-open, or “key”, the Downramp.
The Downramp is designed so that the bottom of the ramp must be opened before the top; just like a playground slide the bottom must be clear before the boat at the top can come down. This is facilitated with a key turned in a lock and, in order to reach the downramp, one must proceed on a labyrinth path through the guts of the building and emerge in what is known as the “Transition Tunnel”. What follows is an endless-feeling wait in a very dark tunnel, and it is often here that your thoughts turn to those women in the front row of that very light boat.
I cannot here exaggerate when I say that those times I have spent at the bottom of the downramp, waiting to be called on the park phone by Tower, count as among the most miserable moments of my life. The mild illumination is not helpful, the water continues to rush past you, and you fully expect for a boat to turn the corner into sight at any moment, perhaps with two bloody figures seated in the front row. The walk to get to the downramp is traumatic, dimly lit and wet, with the chest-high wading pants used during ride evacuations slung every few feet over handrails providing a jolt, so easy are they to mistake for a just-noticed figure or dead, limb legs jutting from the shadows. At the bottom of the ramp, the atmosphere is oppressive - you expect to be jumped. Worst of all, the ear splitting volume of the ghostly narration which once echoed through this scene prior to the 2006 refurbishment:
No fear have ye of evil curses says you! Properly warned ye be, says I! DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES! Perhaps ye knows too much! Ye’ve seen the cursed treasure and you know where it be hidden… DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES!
The Ladies generally confine themselves to this small portion of the ride, and although the tunnel has been significantly relieved in atmosphere by the removal of those damned voices and the insertion of the upbeat Hans Zimmer soundtrack, I still shudder as I pass by the hidden exit point, and I know that those two women still linger. George, however, may be observed anywhere, at any time. Odd white points of light occasionally float out of boats and into the rafters of the ride, observable only on security cameras. Shadows sometimes crawl along walls where you know they are not supposed to be. One spectacular and probably fictional manifestation I was once told about involves a cloud of mist engulfing a boat before it plunged down the downramp.
Guests sometimes report seeing “someone” looking down on them from the Bombardment Bay fortress, but even more uncanny things have happened, especially if the guest makes idle chat about George in the Load Area and proceeds through the ride alone in their boat. One guest questioned me at length about changes to the dialouge in the attraction until finally I realized that they were telling me that the voice which ordinarily says “Dead Men Tell No Tales” was in fact saying something about the dead “not having a face” and furthermore had felt that many of the ride figures were visibly malfunctioning and appeared to be looking at them! Of course, they had mentioned George’s name several times to themselves while entering, and although we will never be fully sure of the truth of this story, it does make a delightfully spooky addition to George’s tale. And if it matters at all, the guest seemed to be honestly confused rather than deceitful and left looking unsure. I, for one, had trouble standing down at Unload for the rest of the night. As such, it is recommended that all guests who mention or pretend to “talk to” George while on his ride, treat him with proper respect and say goodnight to him as they leave.
Although the refurbishment changed this, the queue at Pirates has two sides; what was then known as Load 1 and Load 2. Load 1 winds past the famous skeletons playing chess, while Load 2 headed through a once uncommonly seen portion of the queue, with a dining hall and cannon pit. Load 2, however, had been modified to include a wheelchair ramp out of the building, and late at night we would have to lead guests in wheelchairs down to this side of the load area, turn on the load console, load just that group into a boat, turn off the load console, and push the chair back out the exit ramp because Load 2 was considered the “secondary” side of the holding area. The designation has since been reversed, but on many trips exiting Load 2 with an empty wheelchair I knew George was loitering in this usually quiet part of the building. I even saw him once. He was all black, like a shadow standing off the wall. This is his most common description, so perhaps I really did see something…
I don’t often get nostalgic for my days at Disney but pre-Jack Sparrow Pirates of the Caribbean is a wonderful memory for me, a time when the lines were often short, steel drum music echoed through the plaza, and a green parrot by the entrance would have to be muted five minutes before the start of the fireworks. And George was there, perhaps just in our minds, but constant none the less. But then again perhaps he was really there, you know. I’m sure inexplicable breakdowns persist to this day, and those plastic grates laid down all over the foundation of the show building which let you walk dryly even though the floor is usually slightly flooded, I’m sure that to this day you can hear another set of feet clanging across them, just a few feet behind you at that one special spot. His name may have been any number of things, but we called him George, and in a way he is the protector of Pirates of the Caribbean. More than a nuisance when his door isn’t closed or he isn’t greeted by name, we knew George wouldn’t really do anything to hurt us and we knew he would protect any of us from really getting really hurt if necessary.
That was, at least, the hope…
I may have told this story before…in fact, I’m pretty sure I have, but I can’t find it, and it’s probably been quite a while.
When I was a young lad, one of my friends decided he wanted to hold a seance.
He had dabbled in magick. Not “pick a card, any card” or “hey Rocky, watch me pull this rabbit out of my hat” magic. We’re talking cast spells, invoke spirits, pentagrams-and-candles magick. None of it had ever worked.
So a few of us figured we’d play along. None of us took it too seriously. I’d heard that some of them had played with a Ouija board once, and been freaked out by it, but I wasn’t there for it and they laughed about it when they talked about it, so I figured it was just a case of nerves.
We got going, sitting in a circle, candles lit, a pentagram made of string in the center since his parents would’t let him draw one with chalk, an open book in front of the “warlock” of the group. I don’t remember the words he used, but at one point he stopped and looked at the front door.
I looked up at it too, and I swear you could see the outline of a giant eye on the door. A water stain on the ceiling, which had always been there as far as I could remember, suddenly looked like a hand reaching down at us.
We broke off the seance.
I went outside and climbed the tree in his back yard, where I would often go to escape reality for a while. I felt like I was up there for maybe 10-15 minutes, then I came down to rejoin the rest of my friends.
They said I had been gone for hours.
To this day I don’t know what happened…if I maybe fell asleep standing on a branch and somehow didn’t fall, or if I just zoned out for a while, or found some way to travel a couple hours ahead in time, or what, but that tree became forever known as Kenny’s time warp.
I did later find out that the house had quite a history. The original owner, who built the house himself, died of a heart attack as he laid the final brick. Another family who lived there had a child run over by a drunk driver in the front yard (and the house was most definitely not on a major road). Another owner was said to be a devil worshiper, who had murdered a child and smeared the blood on the walls in some sort of rite. My friend’s family made it out alive, though.
And the town itself has a sordid history…partly from the fact that it’s a refinery town and there had been accidents at the refinery over the years, and partly because of the racist past of the town. I’m told that the “welcome to our town” sign that had all the rotary club and local association logos on it also used to have a “no blacks or Jews” sign on it as well, and black people who ignored this warning were said to be run down in the street.
There’s a reason Redd Foxx hated the town so much. From Wikipedia:
Besides mentioning Watts, Fred G. Sanford (Redd Foxx) often referred to El Segundo on the 1970s hit TV show Sanford and Son. In one episode, he refers to his Ripple wine as coming from “the vineyards of El Segundo.” He also references El Segundo after he tells a soldier about remembering “crashing into the Pacific during WWII.” The soldier asks, “You were shot down by a Japanese Zero?” Fred says: “Nope, a bigot threw me off the pier in El Segundo!” In another episode - titled “The Reverend Sanford,” he says he was “having a religious picture painted on his ceiling next week, like Michelangelo. It’s going to be Moses partin’ an oil spill in El Segundo.” Finally, in another episode, when Lamont says the cologne he is wearing is called “Days In Paris,” Fred says: “Smells more like “Nights In El Segundo.”
Gather ‘round, kids; it’s ghost story time!
OK, not a Disney ghost this time (I’ll pause for the “awwww” from the crowd).
It is, however, another personal story. So make yourself some popcorn or some s’mores, and grab yourself a beverage. You probably know by now that I’m not one to be short-winded on these text posts, and there’s some back-story to this before I even get to my involvement.
I heard a story once about a ghost that was “created.” A group started having seances, and wasn’t having any luck. After several failed attempts at contacting a spirit, they decided to make one up. They wrote a back-story for him and named him Phil.
Ghost story time!
I’m overdue for another Disneyland ghost story. I have no personal involvement in this one, other than to have heard it from someone who claims to have seen her (and others who will do anything to get out of working on the west side of the park after closing time so they don’t risk seeing her).
As always, believe if you want, take it as fiction if you want. Other versions of this story may exist, and may have different details. I am just telling it as I remember it.
Q:Don't mean to be a pest, but merely you had mentioned other day to give a gentle reminder re: other personal "ghostly" experience while working for Disneyland. Only if you wish to share of course, I am very interested to hear! :)
You aren’t being a pest at all. Here’s the last of my personal ghost stories from Disneyland (there are lots more stories, but none involving me).
Back before 9/11, it was easier (or at least something you wouldn’t get fired for if caught) to walk around attractions when the park was closed. Nowadays, it’s much more likely to result in instant termination and a possible questioning from the FBI.
A friend convinced me to go into the Haunted Mansion with him one night after work. Well, he really didn’t have to twist my arm that much. This was before I had experienced any hauntings, but I had heard that the Mansion was haunted…and of course there were the dreams which led to more of a curiosity.
First I’ll tell you about the dreams.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had recurring nightmares about the haunted mansion. They still show up now and then, and I’m 36 years old. They aren’t the same now as they were then, but in some ways the Mansion haunts me still.
The first dreams would have me sneaking into the mansion (I know, makes me wonder why I agreed so readily to doing it in real life). When I decided to leave in the dream, the mansion wouldn’t let me. Doors would close and lock, and I couldn’t open them. Windows would be open, inviting me to try, but would always close before I got there and not open.
Finally I would find the one weak window, which would break when I threw a chair at it, and I would climb outside. I’d head to the gate outside, and it would naturally be locked. I’d climb the fence, but the spikes on top would curve in towards me, preventing me from getting over.
In one of these dreams, I decided that death was the only way I would leave, so I took a shard of glass from he window and went after my wrist. The glass would curve away as it got closer to my skin, unwilling to cut. It wasn’t letting me off that easy.
In another incarnation of the dream, I would be riding in a Doom Buggy. I’d get as far as the endless hallway with the floating candle, and the hallway would be trying to suck me in. I’d literally be horizontal, barely hanging on to the lap bar as my feet would be hanging out towards the hallway, trying to keep from going to wherever the force was trying to pull me. I actually went on an “official” walkthrough of the mansion once that one of our managers arranged, and we went down that hallway. I was really uneasy. The Cast Member was opening doors, showing us passageways, supplies, etc. Someone asked about the last door on the left, and he just said “We never open that one.” I’d love to know what (if anything) is in there. Coupled with the dream, that door scares me.
In the hallway dreams, I would hang on and at the end of the ride, instead of the real ending, all the Doom Buggies would gather in one room. The Ghost Host would select three people, myself always among them, to get out of their buggy and head to a light switch.
Two people would have a switch next to their Doom Buggy. Mine would be across the room. “On the count of three,” the Ghost Host would say, “turn out your switches. The last of you to get back into your Doom Buggy will be with us forever.”
So I already know I’m fucked. I’ve gotta get across the room before the two others turn around and sit down? Yeah, that’ll happen. So the voice starts counting. “One, two, thr—” and I would bolt awake. Every single time.
Anyway, back to the unauthorized walkthrough. I have heard that the table in the seance room was a gift to Walt from a satanic cult, and they wanted it included in the mansion. Walt was actually into the occult (his ghost is one that is said to haunt the park…even the pre-Toontown shape of the park is construed by some to be the symbol of the unholy trinity…or the alchemical symbol for water…or it could be just an upside-down triangle for the sake of leaving room for backstage areas on a mostly rectangular property; but I digress).
I had been told that nobody was supposed to touch the table. I had heard it was cursed. I’d even heard that it had a tendency to float once in a while. I cannot vouch for any of that, but here’s what I can vouch for.
When my friend and I got to the seance room, he saw a quarter on the ground by the table. Well, by “ground,” I mean the wood grid pattern that is at floor level (it’s not a solid floor). There used to be a big gap between the Doom buggies and Madame Leota, until a guest decided to visit her and fell down into the space below.
As he approached the table, the quarter fell through the grid. The vibrations of his walking made it fall, I believe. Then he went to the table. Even in my exploratory mood, I thought that was pushing it so I stayed behind the rail with the Doom Buggies. He leaned on the table, looked at it, decided that it wasn’t that interesting, and came back.
He threw one leg over the railing, and as soon as his second leg was over the Doom Buggies started moving. Obviously there is a camera in the seance room, and I can’t imagine a ride operator starting the omnimovers up with us in there.
The pant leg on his left, the first leg he had planted on the Doom Buggy side, got caught under one of the vehicles, and started dragging him. I can honestly say that I didn’t think it was possible to take pants off as fast as he did, but he got out of them. As soon as he did, the ride stopped moving.
He yanked his pants back from the clutches of the Almost-For-Real-This-Time Doom Buggy, and we booked it out of there.
I told this story to some coworkers during my 2nd stint at Disneyland, years later. They laughed about it and said I was nuts (I can’t say I blame them, since I would have trouble believing in ghosts without my personal experiences). They invited me into the mansion with them for an exploration.
Given my previous experience, plus the fact that it had become a terminable offense, I declined.
The next day, only one of the expedition crew showed up to work. People call in sick all the time, especially if they partied the night before, so I took it for granted that they had hung out late and maybe drank a little too much.
The one who came in, however, talked to me later in the day. As a joke, they went over to Madame Leota’s table and rubbed their hands and arms all over it, saying something like “Ohh, look, I’m touching the cursed table! Ken would be freaking out!” The one who showed up the next day didn’t do it.
Turns out they all had really bad rashes on their hands and arms when they woke up that morning.
As always, you can rationalize the story all you want. You may very well come up with logical explanations. But for me, I will always consider the haunted Mansion at Disneyland to be truly haunted.
My other ghost story
OK, time for another episode of KennyVee’s Ghost Stories.
I hadn’t thought of this one for a while, but the mention of Mr. One Way brought back the memory, since this ghost is very close to Space Mountain.
During the later years of the PeopleMover’s existence, it was not open on Grad Nights. When I was a new Cast Member, I just thought that this was because teenagers + their perceived freedom (graduating high school and outnumbering the chaperones) = naughty things happening on long rides.
By my second year working Grad Nights, I knew that one reason the PeopleMover was never open for the kids was that there had been two fatalities from teenagers trying to jump from car to car and being crushed by the moving vehicles. The first was in 1967 (Rick Yama, in the CircleVision 360º building), the second in 1980 (Gerardo Gonzales, in the Super Speedway tunnel, later known as the TRON tunnel).
In 1967, as Ricky fell, he grabbed for his girlfriend’s long hair to try and catch himself. Some reports say that he actually pulled some out on the way down.
Well, in early 1995, I was with a friend at work when he got word from a friend of his on the PeopleMover that a ghost had shown up that day. He filled me in that sometimes, in the tunnel between the Starcade and Space Mountain, girls would say they felt someone or something pulling their hair. This had happened that day, and the girl was even missing a patch of hair on the back of her head.
There was a girl with long blonde hair riding solo in the last car of a train, and she was in the dark section between the arcade and where you could see into Space Mountain. Before you mention the darkness, there are infrared cameras in the dark areas that can see everything.
As she rode, you could see a section of her hair lift up from her shoulders and away from her, yanking out of her head. It was pulled by…nothing. It bunched together as if it was being held, but there wasn’t anything there holding it. After it was detached from the girl, it dropped to the track.
The rumor was that it was either Ricky or Gerardo’s ghost, grabbing for her hair to stop his fall. I would love a more rational explanation, but I just don’t think there is one.
Q:Thank you very much for the response and sharing your personal experience! Quite eerie indeed, I am sure, to experience for yourself and not be able to explain by 'normal' means. Looks like I will have to take the long away around Big Thunder Trail at closing next time I visit the park on the way out.....
Merely curious, and this is not your department since you worked ODV, but did you hear any of the stories of the Space Mountain purported ‘ghosts’? Mr. One Way, as I have heard him called, is fairly comprehensively documented in terms of the particulars of his appearance, but there’s the one I have heard of from maybe two stories who earned the unlikely title of Disco Debbie. Seemed to me reports of her had the air more of urban legend or invention, but you never know….just curious if either one was a prominently talked of occurrence when you were a CM J
I actually heard about Mr. One Way for the first time after I was no longer at Disneyland. I do remember walking by the backstage entrance that leads to the ladies’ locker room and having someone tell me there was a ghost in there, but I never got details until after my time.
Same goes for Disco Debbie, but you did remind me of Debbie Stone, a Cast Member who was killed in America Sings back in 1974 (when I was born, incidentally). Word is that she still haunts the building, now home of Innoventions. I won’t get into the backstory here, since you are probably familiar with it (if not, it’s easy to find on Google).
Before the ODV office moved to the west side of the park, it used to be a small room behind, but connected to, the America Sings building (as it was called then). I can attest to the fact that sometimes, when in the office, the temperature would suddenly drop. A lot. Not a “the air conditioner just kicked in” kind of chill, but a sudden 15º-20º drop. We would always say something along the lines of “well, Debbie’s here.”
I once snooped around in the tunnel under Tomorrowland (it runs from behind Innoventions to Tomorrowland Terrace for deliveries, also houses a break room, trash compacter (it STINKS down there), and the lowered stage from Tomorrowland Terrace. It also has a room where the gears are to turn the Carousel of Progress/America Sings/Innoventions building.
I had heard from another adventurer that there were bloodstains on the gears that turn the building. They would be cleaned off, but reappear. I wanted to see for myself. I went to the room where the gears are. There was a sign on the door saying “Unauthorized Personnel KEEP OUT.” There was also a sliding panel on the door (like old nightclubs where the goon would slide it open and say, “What’s the password?”).
I loved my job, and didn’t want to get fired over something like this. Sure, it was late and nobody was around, but who knew if there were cameras in there? An alarm on the door? A motion sensor? Too many possibilities, so I chickened out on going in. I did, however, slide the panel over. It’s amazing how much air suddenly sucked past me and into that small space. It’s almost like it’s a vacuum in that room.
Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely convinced that the air movement was just a product of the air conditioners and vents, and the sudden change in air pressure when I opened a space into a room that I’m sure isn’t opened too often. Still, if was kind of creepy at the time.
I’ve got another Disneyland ghost story, but I don’t want to wear anyone out. If I don’t post it in the next couple of days send me a friendly reminder that I owe you one more.
Q:Firstly, thank you for reblogging! And if may ask (I am a skeptic myself, but curious, and love a good ghost story), what are some experiences you had as a CM? If can share that is :)
Thanks for the question…I rarely get these!
Disneyland has a lot of well-documented haunts and origins thereof (ashes of a loved one spread in the Haunted Mansion, little girl who was lost on Tom Sawyer’s Island never to be seen again…except as a ghost, kid who died on the PeopleMover on Grad Night, etc.), so I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t been able to track down the story behind what I experienced.
I used to work in Outdoor Vending. Most carts are brought back to a main warehouse each night for cleaning, but the popcorn carts are much harder to move (they are lighter, but are much harder to steer and there’s a lot more to disconnect than a power cord) so they stay in the park each night.
Since they aren’t brought back to be cleaned, the vendor who closes the cart has to clean it on stage. Naturally, sometimes vendors just want to go home after a long day, and don’t do a very good job. At the end of the day, someone goes out to “close the park,” which in vending-speak means to inspect the carts and make sure they were cleaned properly (this person also has to finish the job if it wasn’t done, but the closing vendor will get in trouble for not doing it themselves next time they work).
This was one of my favorite jobs, because I got to walk around a nearly-empty Disneyland. About 45 minutes to an hour after the park closed, I would head out to close the park. I would usually start in Toontown…guests are still in the park, so I wanted to start where the crowds were gone. Then the cart by It’s A Small World, the Matterhorn, Tomorrowland, then back through Fantasyland to Frontierland (Main Street would still have too many people). Then after Frontierland and New Orleans Square, I would head back to Main Street, where I usually met the vendor as they were finishing up their cleaning.
That was a roundabout way to tell you why I was walking along Big Thunder Trail from Fantasyland to Frontierland one night at around 2:00AM when it was very dark and nobody was around…more or less.
Where most of Disneyland has area music in the background, this area has sounds playing of crickets, birds, frogs, coyotes, and other wilderness sounds. I had heard it so much that I knew when to expect each sound, if I was paying attention to it. So when I heard my name whispered in the dark, it stood out…I’d never heard anything in those sounds that sounded like “Ken.”
I turned towards the sound of the whisper, and didn’t see anybody. I shrugged it off as my imagination and kept going. After a few seconds, it came again, slightly louder than a whisper this time. “Ken!”
It sounded like it was someone speaking to me from about five feet away, behind me and a little to the right. I turned, and once again there wasn’t anyone there. I knew I had heard something this time, so I wasn’t as quick to dismiss it and move along. Thinking a coworker was messing around, I got out my flashlight and started searching. I wasn’t quite to the bridge across from the abandoned mine train tunnel, and the only possible hiding place was in the foliage to my right.
I searched around, and didn’t see anyone, nor did I hear anyone moving through the plants (which are numerous there). The nearest fake rock with a hinge where someone could open it up to hide with a water pump was still well ahead of me.
After a couple minutes, I gave up and decided that, once again, I was hearing things. I turned off my flashlight and started back towards the hill down to the Mark Twain Dock. I hadn’t taken two steps when, right at my ear, there was the sound of my name being shouted. “KEN!”
A quick glance showed nobody there, and I ran like the pirate being chased by the large lady in Pirates of the Caribbean, except not in circles. I made a beeline for the popcorn cart that was on the Golden Horseshoe side of the Mark Twain Dock, where things were well-lit and other Cast Members were around. I still wasn’t sure what had just happened.
So I finished my rounds of the popcorn wagons, looking over my shoulder once in a while, but I didn’t see or hear anything odd after getting off Big Thunder Trail.
I went back to our warehouse behind the Disneyland RR’s New Orleans Square Station. One of my good friends was working that night and I pulled him aside and told him the story. He went kind of pale, and said “You too?”
Apparently I’m not the only one who’s been called on that trail. I only spoke to three others who heard their names at night there, so I’m not sure how well-known the story is. I think I told it once before on here, but I don’t have a large following.
For the skeptics: Yes, I realize that it’s possible that this was a prank. If so, however, my normally loud and rowdy coworkers suddenly became ninjas to pull it off unseen and unheard as they moved. Plus, at 2:00 in the morning, the closers usually kind of want to finish up and go home, and everything got done on time that night.
So yes, I am a believer in the hauntings of Disneyland, and (after reading the earlier post about George), at Walt Disney World. I tend to look at things with a skeptical eye and not believe every story I hear, but it’s easier to believe when you’ve experienced something out of the ordinary yourself.