A few months ago, Kissimmee’s spooky old haunted house attraction received new life when Legends, A Haunting at Old Town debuted, aimed at giving their guests a frightfully good time year-around. Now, Legends Dark Amusements is expanding their offerings with new ghost tours beginning next week, trading in artificial scares for plenty of spine-chilling true stories about the area’s paranormal past (and present).
The Ghosts of Old Town takes visitors on a roughly 90-minute exploration of the entertainment complex in Kissimmee, Florida that’s more than 30 years old. They don’t guarantee anyone taking the tour will see any ghosts – in fact, it’s highly unlikely. But there is a possibility that the presence of spirits will be felt at some point during the tour.
Ghost tour guests may recognize the lead tour guide as Legends co-owner Dan Carro, otherwise known as Archibald Ashdown, the lead character of their haunted attraction. But his aim is not to scare anyone during the ghost tours, instead offering information about what people may still lurk around the area.
After kicking off the tour with a macabre quote from Edgar Allan Poe, Carro is quick to note that “we are all ghosts,” in that our bodies are what separates the souls of the living from that of the dead. His point is that ghosts are nothing to be feared, simply people who have passed beyond their mortal confines. There are three types of ghosts, Carro explains, that may manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Attachment spirits are bound to specific real world items or places, echo or residual hauntings are mainly just lingering energy, and poltergeists – or “noisy spirits” – are what most people associate with the term “ghost,” an actual apparition or otherwise nasty spook that may cause problems for the living.
Following that interesting, but eerie introduction guests are led around a few of Old Town’s stores, recounting stories that shop owners have shared with the Legends team. It seems most of Old Town’s vendors have experienced at least a handful of unusual moments that are inexplicable within the boundaries of everyday life. Hats have been flipped off stands, pots and silverware have moved around, gates have slammed shut and latched on their own, and even whispers have been heard.
Why Old Town? Carro explains that it’s an attraction – both for the living and the dead. Like the tales Old Town, the ghost tour includes a few stories of other local attractions that may be haunted, including (what else?) Disney’s Haunted Mansion. And that leads the tour inside Carro’s own attraction, A Haunting at Old Town. The show’s effects aren’t turned on and no actors are present for this experience, but the interior is just as spooky as ever, dimly lit as the tour adds stories of unusual encounters within.
Outside of the major theme parks, Orlando has a history of independent haunted attractions, including Skull Kingdom, Terror on Church Street, and the Haunted Grimm House – the former occupants of this very location. Each of those attractions were reportedly haunted, with some spirits now carrying over into Legends’ establishment. There’s the story of the “three fingered ghost” swiping at unsuspecting patrons and employees at Skull Kingdom along with a “klepto ghost” who has a knack for swiping things around the Old Town haunt.
The tour ultimately leads guests through a few of the attraction’s themed rooms, stopping in each to describe standard death-related procedures of the past, many shocking by today’s practices.
Most unique is the old tradition of post-mortem photography, carefully posing the recently-deceased for a final family portrait. It’s not exactly a ghost story, but fascinating nonetheless.
Those who had a justified fear of accidentally being entombed alive may have relied on one of hundreds of patented coffin alarms, attached to the body inside a coffin with a bell that sounded if that person were to suddenly awaken, alerting a nearby watchman to quickly unearth them. Carro explains it’s where the terms “graveyard shift,” “dead ringer,” and “saved by the bell” come from – though he says there is no record of anyone actually being “saved’ by this practice.
It’s during this final stage of the ghost tour that the spirits may have made themselves known. In the area of the haunted attraction representing Archibald Ashdown’s funeral home office, an old fashioned clock hangs on the wall, fixed in time with no power connection or batteries installed. And yet its pendulum began to move during the tour. Carro says it’s not the first time that has happened while spirits were being spoken of in that area. The room is often used as a gathering place for the attraction’s actors, none of whom have reported seeing the pendulum move during everyday activities. And yet during the ghost tours, it seems to swing on its own.
Extra wind caused by the commotion of the tour guests? Perhaps. But it could be something more mysterious.
The tour also gives guests a small taste of the behind-the-scenes workings of A Haunting at Old Town, leading through a few hallways normally reserved for its actors. For those interested in how a haunted attraction is operated, this tour can offer some interesting details without giving too much away.
After upwards of an hour and a half, the tour concludes inside the attraction’s dark funeral scene, asking guests to share their own ghost stories. There are plenty to be told as Carro explains there’s no shortage of spirits around. “There are way more dead than living,” adds Carro. “And the dead population is always rising.”
There are no planned scares during the tour, though guests should be aware some animated props may still be powered and creepy creatures illuminated around dark corners may produce a corner-of-the-eye startle or two for those not used to hanging around in haunted attractions.
The Ghosts of Old Town tours from Legends Dark Amusements officially begin on February 18 and will be held at 8pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On those nights, the Haunting at Old Town attraction will not be in operation, as it is part of the scare-free tour. The ghost tour costs $20 per body, though discounts and coupons will be available online. Carro doesn’t lead every tour and different guides may tell different stories, leaving plenty to learn across this interesting and informative afterlife adventure.
More photos from the Old Town ghost tour from Legends Dark Amusements:
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