Bearing the “happiest place on Earth” tagline, Disneyland is a worldwide symbol of escapism. However, the theme park has a legacy that’s even more disturbing than its price gouges, long lines, and blistering heat. Apparently, it’s haunted. The ghosts of Disneyland are said to belong to people who have died at the park (a surprisingly high amount). Today, we’ll discuss the backstories of some of Disneyland’s most well-known ghosts.
1955: Walt Disney Founds Disneyland
Before we delve into the park’s dark side, let’s take a brief look into how it was founded. Walt Disney was born in Kansas and moved to California to manifest his dream of becoming an animator. He was initially hired to make animated shorts for commercials, all the while slowly building his own film production studio.
However, Walt’s aspirations soon extended beyond the creation of animated films. Inspired by Six Flags, he wanted to create a dreamlike alternate reality for fans of his work. People thought he was insane. However, the 1955 opening of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA proved the naysayers wrong.
It was only 11 years later that “the happiest place on Earth” would first see death within its walls.
Thomas Guy Cleveland – Haunting the Monorail
In 1966, a 19 year-old named Thomas Guy Cleveland attempted to enter the park illegally. He waited until the park closed, then scaled the fence with the intention of climbing down from the monorail track. What he didn’t realize was that the monorail did not stop running after dark. An oncoming tram hit him, killing him instantly.
Almost 60 years later, some still report seeing his ghost near the monorail tracks. Apparently, the specter’s face is mangled as a result of the horrific accident.
Debbie Stone – Did Her Ghost Force a Disneyland Attraction to Close?
In 1974, 18 year-old Deborah Stone was working as a hostess for the America Sings attraction, which featured a rotating theater wall. She was unfortunately caught between the rotating theater wall and the stationary stage wall; she was crushed to death. Some future cast members reported hearing her whispering voice telling them to be careful.
America Sings closed in 1988. While Disneyland has never officially confirmed this, park-goers spread a rumor that the frequent sightings of Debbie’s ghost were the reason for the attraction’s closure.
Dolly, the Ghost of the Matterhorn
In 1984, a woman named Regina Young—nicknamed “Dolly”—fell from her seat while riding the Matterhorn. An oncoming bobsled struck her, ending her life instantly. Her seatbelt had been unbuckled (though it’s up for debate as to whether or not she unbuckled it herself). The drop on which she died has been nicknamed “Dolly’s Dip” as a sort of dark immortalization of her.
Since her death, many employees who clean the interior of the Matterhorn after hours report having encounters with Dolly. One employee even went as far as to say that her ghost asked him where her mother was.
The Man Known Only as “George”
For the sake of transparency: this next story does not take place at Disneyland. Rather, the tragic incident occurred at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida, a theme park that—while not known for being as haunted as Disneyland—has plenty of its own disturbing lore.
George was supposedly a welder who was killed during the construction of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The cause of his death is uncertain. Some say he fell from the burning town portion of the ride. Others say he was crushed by a steel beam. However, the ride’s maintenance staff all agree that things have been a bit off since his death.
According to anonymous maintenance staff, saying, “I don’t believe in George” summons floating objects, strange sounds, or broken ride components. As a result, employees who work on the ride tend to say, “Good morning, George,” at the beginning of the day and, “Good night, George,” at the end of the day.
So is George real? Well, unlike the other ghosts on this list, there is no actual record of his death. So we’re left to wonder, where did the rumor come from? And is there any validity to the testimonies of staff members who swear that they’ve met George?
The Ghost of Walt Disney Himself
If you’re familiar with Disney lore, you’ll know that above the firehouse on Disneyland’s Main Street, there is an apartment that was furnished to be an exact replica of Walt Disney’s actual office. The apartment’s lamp is kept on throughout the night in case Walt may ever need to use it.
Some employees who have passed by the apartment at night have claimed to have seen Walt’s ghost inside of it. One employee even went as far as to claim that, being unfamiliar with the tradition, he went upstairs to turn off the lamp. After leaving, he looked back up at the apartment window and saw that the lamp had been turned back on. Determined, he went back upstairs and unplugged the lamp. When he came back down, he saw that it had somehow been turned on yet again.
As the employee left the park, he claimed to have heard in a whisper, “I’m still here.”
haunted mansion is closed for renovation. waiting for more people to die.— Disneyland (@Disneyland2go) February 19, 2020
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, it is a fact that Disneyland has been home to some horrific tragedies. Perhaps the spread of ghost stories is a cruel attempt on Disney’s part to capitalize on the deaths of park-goers. Or maybe the rumors weren’t spread by the company at all, but by fans who wanted to contribute to the lore of their favorite destination. Of course, there’s also the sliver of a chance that there is genuine paranormal activity at Disneyland.