9 Ghosts That Reportedly Haunt Disney Parks, From Urban Legends To Actual Events In The Park's History
In 1955, something spectacular happened: Disneyland opened in Anaheim, Calif., forever changing the face of amusement parks in America. Given its long and storied history, of course, it’s to be expected that over the years, rumors that ghosts allegedly haunt Disneyland, as well as Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. and all the other Disney properties that have opened in the intervening decades, would have become rather persistent indeed. The stories are deliciously spooky — even if not all of them are true.
In fact, before we begin, I should probably note that most of them aren’t true. Pretty much every one of these strange and spooky tales is an urban legend — a story passed around from Cast Member to Cast Member, from guest to guest, and from Disney park aficionado to Disney park aficionado. It’s true that a few of them do have their roots in real events; like all amusement parks, Disney is not immune to incidents, contrary to popular belief. But the stories themselves are pretty obviously made up, even when they do have some actual history behind them.
That doesn’t stop them from being absolutely engrossing, though. And, I mean, after all, what else are Disney parks meant to do but help us suspend our disbelief for a short while? These nine tales will give you a shiver — and also remind you to remain inside your ride vehicle with your seatbelt fastened at all times.
Though I’m pretty sure the ghost story itself is just an urban legend, there is some really sad history behind this one: In 1984, Regena Young, known as “Dolly,” fell from her seat while riding the Matterhorn at Disneyland and was killed when she was struck by another oncoming bobsled. Her seatbelt was unbuckled, but we don’t know whether she undid it herself or whether it was the result of something else.
These days, some Cast Members claim to have felt like someone was watching them during their routine walk-throughs of the ride, which are conducted at the end of the day. The area on the track where Young died is known as Dolly’s Dip.
If you are well-versed in Disney lore, you’re probably already aware of the fact that there’s an apartment above the Firehouse on Main Street at Disneyland. During construction on the park, which began on July 16, 1954, with opening day following just a year later on July 17, 1955, Walt Disney — the man himself — wanted a place to stay on the property. It wasn’t large — just about 500 square feet — but it was convenient for those late nights and early mornings as Walt oversaw the Disney dream coming to life. You can tour it now, if you like; in recent years, the apartment has been opened back up again for those who choose to spring for some of the behind-the-scenes tours the park offers.
As a tribute to Walt, a light is always left on in the apartment’s front window — but according to legend, this wasn’t always the case. It’s said that one day, a Cast Member looking after the apartment tried to turn the light off before leaving; however, when she came back later, the light had turned on again. According to one version, she actually left the building, noticed the light on upstairs, went back up to turn it off, went back downstairs, noticed it on again, and even unplugged the lamp, only to find it — you guessed it — on again when she went downstairs. The last time she went up there to deal with the light, it’s said that she heard a voice — Walt’s, maybe? — say, “I’m still here.” The light in the window has reportedly been left on ever since.
3The Boy In The Haunted Mansion: California Edition
At Disneyland in California, legend has it that a little boy’s mother spread his ashes in the Haunted Mansion without getting the park’s permission to do so; ever since then, he’s allegedly been heard periodically crying for his mother at the end of the ride. He’s apparently been spotted at Pirates of the Caribbean, too, which is right next door to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.
For what it’s worth, Disney’s official stance on ash scattering is that it doesn’t happen; according to a story in the LA Times from 2007, people do ask from time to time, but they’re always told no. Additionally, it’s worth noting that alleged ash scattering is connected to a wide variety of urban legends spread across a bunch of parks and rides.
4The Boy In The Haunted Mansion: Florida Edition
California’s Haunted Mansion isn’t the only one that’s said to play host to an actual ghost of a little boy; someone posting in the WDWMagic forums in 2004 wrote that they allegedly took the photo seen in the tweet I’ve embedded here while riding the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World in Florida.
“As you'll see in the photo after clicking the link, it appears as though a child is peeking his head out of the doombuggy and looking directly at me,” the forum member wrote. “Not only was he not there when I took the pic, there wasn't a child of this age within 20 people in front of me in line, and as you can see, he's only a few doombuggies in front of me. Not only that, what's he doing looking at me? There is NO flash, and NO visible light coming from me. It's all infrared, and invisible to the naked eye.”
Do with that what you will.
Like the Matterhorn, there’s some sad history to this one: In 1974, 18-year-old Deborah Stone was crushed to death while working as a hostess at the America Sings attraction in Disneyland. America Sings was located in the rotating theatre that had previously housed the Carousel of Progress; on the evening of July 8, Stone was caught between the rotating theatre wall and the stationary stage wall and died as a result. A safety light was subsequently put in, which warned the attraction’s operator when people got too close to this dangerous area; additionally, the stationary walls were later replaced with breakaway ones. (The building recently housed Innovations and Super Hero HQ, although those attractions closed in 2016.)
As is often the case when senseless tragedies occur, one of the ways that people have coped with this upsetting loss is by creating a ghost story for it. In this case, Debbie Stone has become a sort of guardian angel: It’s said that Cast Members working on the attraction, which was open until 1988, used to hear a voice warning them, “Be careful” if they got too close to the walls.
I am fairly confident that George, who allegedly haunts the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Walt Disney World, is an urban legend, rather than an actual ghost. The hallmarks of a good yarn all there: Conflicting versions of what happened to him; things that allegedly happen if you do or don’t do certain things while riding his ride; and so on and so forth. Either way, though, his legend seems to be a surprisingly friendly one, so let’s take a look.
It’s said that, when the Florida version of Pirates of the Caribbean was under construction, a welder named George was killed in an accident. Exactly what that accident was varies depending on who you talk to; according to some, he was crushed by a falling beam, while according to others, he fell from the “burning city” portion of the ride and died as a result. Ever since then, the ride has allegedly been plagued by strange occurrences whenever George is disrespected.
Really, though, that’s all George seems to be after: Respect. He’s said to stop the ride whenever someone says “I don’t believe in George,” so presumably if you don’t question his existence while you’re actually riding Pirates of the Caribbean, you should be fine. Additionally, the rumor persists that Cast Members in charge of opening the ride for the day or closing it up at night say “Good morning” or “Good night” to George at the appropriate times to keep him appeased. As long as you do that, he’s apparently happy.
The reality, though, is that George probably didn’t exist. You know what did really happen, though? Real bones were once used as props on the California version of the ride. According to Atlas Obscura, the fake skeletons available when the ride was first opened were deemed to be not realistic enough, so the Imagineers working on the ride got some real ones from the UCLA Medical Center. These eventually were replaced with fake bones... but still.
Like George, Mr. One-Way is almost certainly an urban legend; one of the most passed-around ghost stories clinging to the Disney parks, it’s also the one with the most variations. The one thing that most versions do agree upon is exactly what he haunts and where: Space Mountain at Disneyland in California.
Some accounts describe Mr. One-Way as a red-haired man with a red face; others say he’s a kid dressed in ‘70s-era clothing. The stories say he tends to hang out in the queue for Space Mountain, although whether or not he talks to people while waiting varies depending on who you ask: The red-haired man apparently doesn’t, but the boy does (although it’s worth noting that the kid version of Mr. One-Way doesn’t have any knowledge of the changes made to the park since the ‘70s). According to some video footage I’ve found, though, Mr. One-Way doesn’t wait in the queue at all; he appears only at the actual ride cars, approaching them from the opposite side of the waiting area — the side on which people are supposed to exit the ride — and sitting down in any empty seats he can find. It’s said he disappears right before you hit the final tunnel at the end of the ride.
For what it's worth, a second ghost dubbed "Disco Debbie" is also said to haunt Space Mountain, although her story is even weirder: She apparently glows in the dark.
8The Monorail Ghost
The Monorail Ghost has something in common with Dolly and Debbie Stone: His story stems from a real incident. In 1966, a 19-year-old named Thomas Guy Cleveland tried to sneak into Disneyland in Anaheim by scaling the park’s outer fence and climbing along the Monorail track. He was struck and killed by an oncoming tram.
These days, it’s said that a spectral figure can sometimes be spotted prowling around the Monorail track. He apparently only appears at night, and he vanishes whenever a tram comes.
Consider this one a cautionary tale.
9Whatever The Heck This Is
Load up this video and queue it up to about the 3:10 mark. You’ll see some CCTV footage of something… odd wandering around Disneyland.What’s super weird is that whatever it is, multiple cameras recorded it. We don’t really know who or what it was; some folks think it might be Walt, although I’ve heard stories that Roy O. Disney, Walt’s younger brother, might haunt the park as well. Or, y’know, maybe it’s just a trick of the light or something.
It’s still weird, though.
At the end of the day, these stories are all just that: Stories. But there's a kind of magic in ghost stories — and given that Disney is meant to be the most magical place on Earth? Well, it all kind of makes sense, then, doesn't it?