I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost!
After visiting Titanic: The Experience, Jess and I just didn’t have our fill of the supernatural. I mean, we didn’t even get to meet the Winchesters! So we turned to the experts — American Ghost Adventures, which offers half a dozen ghost tours all over Central Florida and has conducted paranormal investigations at tons of haunted places (including Titanic!).
I know this may come as a shock, but I actually decided against the pub tour. I know I know, crazy hard to believe. But this wasn’t about enjoying beverages at my usual downtown Orlando establishments; this was about being enlightened with tales of Orlando’s shady shady past and potentially seeing some of the residents who met their demise in downtown The City Beautiful. So awesome, right?!
So, for the latest on my list of things to do in Orlando, we went with the nondrinking downtown tour, which kicks off at Harry Buffalo. Our ghost ambassadors Ting and Kara went over the rules and explained the tour would take two hours, and we’d be visiting three haunted locations. Now off we go to meet Casper! (Preferably the Devon Sawa version.)
Our first stop was Ceviche, where, coincidentally, I had eaten dinner the evening before (do not order the deviled eggs or fried chicken liver). What my server had neglected to mention was that eons ago a man accidently hung himself in what is now the bar area. And he’s been hanging around ever since. (Bear with me. It’s my inner Horatio Cane coming out.) I also didn’t know that the building was at one time a brothel. Lovely to think about as you're enjoying your tapas and sangria.
To help us connect with the deceased in the building, everyone was given a basic electromagnetic field meter with lights that range from green to red, with red indicating you’re basically sharing a space with a ghost. Sam and Dean Winchester frequently use EMF devices, so it's legit. Ting and Kara also set up small flashlights in the “off” position, and encouraged any spirits who wanted to communicate to tap the light on. The only truly unexplainable thing that happened to me on the tour was on the upper floor of Ceviche. I was carrying the small flashlight, which was off, and when I was standing in the middle of the room it flashed on for one second — less time than it would take to switch it on and back off. I didn’t touch it! I didn’t twist it, push a button, do anything! And it definitely turned on! Jess saw it! Yes, there could be a reasonable explanation. But I don’t have one.
The remainder of the tour was fairly uneventful as far as the flashlights, but we did get a cool walking tour of downtown Orlando and learned about some of its slightly morbid past. I’m a sucker for history, so I absolutely loved it. One of the most interesting facts is that Orlando has its very own ley lines, right around the intersection of Pine Street and Magnolia Avenue. So. Awesome. If you’re not a follower of The Vampire Diaries, here’s the super duper quick version — ley lines are like paths of energy or routes that connect places of historical significance, and some believe that where ley lines intersect is where supernatural forces are at their most powerful. In downtown Orlando, we can thank whoever built a high-rise on top of an Indian burial ground for contributing to the number of spirits in the city. Luckily, most are friendly! Just ask anyone who works at the ley line bars — The Attic, The Basement, Ghost Bar (not just a name, but a fact!), or Harp and Celt Irish Pub and Restaurant, the location of our second supernatural stop. They have some craaaazy stories. And sure, maybe it’s not ghosts and maybe it’s totally explainable, but OK, what’s the explanation?! I don’t want to spoil the ghostly tales in case you partake in your own haunted adventure, but believe me, some are not explainable! They’re just not!
One key element of ley lines is a place of worship. Yep. Got one of those.
The third stop is the coolest and spookiest, and I promise I won’t ruin it for you. But the historical aspect alone is worth a visit. And hey, if you get to meet one of the deceased residents, all the better! Nothing is fake, nothing is set up, so if you interact with some spirits, that's awesome! If you don't, maybe someone in your group scared them away or was wearing a crystal or anti-spirit something or other and didn't realize it. Every tour is different. Up next I'm going to take the tour in downtown Winter Garden. Figure I should try and meet some of the friendly ghosts on my side of town. Plus, I miss playing with the EMF meter.
Don't go ghost hunting on an empty stomach!
Don Jefe's is just a little ways down the street and serves fresh, made-to-order Mexican cuisine.
The tour starts at Harry Buffalo, so why not grab a bison burger and cold beverage while you're waiting for everyone to get there?
If you're looking for something upscale, Kres Chophouse is just a few doors down and has won more than a dozen awards, including best place for celebrity sightings. You could see a ghost and a celebrity!