Posted on November 12, 2020
Top 10 Haunted Locations in Orlando
Orlando is a place steeped in history, known lovingly as ‘The City Beautiful,’ Orlando has plenty to offer in terms of beach vacations, as well as haunted history. Fort Gatlin, as the city was once known, was established under the command of Ltc. Alexander C. W. Fanning on November 9th, 1838. With hundreds of years of southern history, Florida offers its own haunted thrills in the form of haunted lighthouses, chairs, and even dolls! Here we offer you 10 haunted locations in Orlando to spice up your next tropical getaway.
Number Ten: The Devil’s Tree
Located in the Park of Whispering Pines, there lives a 150-year old oak tree that hangs over one of the park’s paths. Legend says that terrible things have happened under the tree, including the rape and hanging of two girls. More disturbingly, after their deaths, the man was rumored to have gone back to visit them. Some stories say that the bodies were found in a canal nearby, but the killer responsible was never found. Most of the community insisted that the tree be cut down since it had such a graphic past, but every attempt to cut the tree ended in failure when the chainsaw used broke each time. Evidence of attempts to burn down the tree also exist, but all were unsuccessful. It’s almost as if the dark energies surrounding the tree are protecting it from harm. Locals claim to have heard screams and have seen apparitions of two young girls by the oak. There are rumors that the murderer was a serial killer by the name of Gerard John Schaefer, who captured the two girls while they hitchhiked. He bound, gagged, and raped them and proceeded to hang them from the tree. The tree is so haunted, it has even been exorcised by a priest. The tree still stands today, a testament to the evil that lurks in this world.
Number Nine: Greenwood Cemetery
Named the official resting ground for Central Florida, Greenwood Cemetery was established in 1880 and houses more than just the remains of the dead. Up until the conception of the cemetery, the people of Orlando had no permanent burial location, leading to countless lost and unmarked graves. Many of the patients who died at Sunland Hospital were buried here at Greenwood Cemetery. Inside, sections tell of the cemetery’s occupants. ‘Baby Land 1 and Baby Land 3’ house no other remains besides those of infants and children under the age of five. Those that visit these spots report hearing music box melodies and sometimes even children’s laughter. Others have even reported being touched or having their pant legs tugged at, as children often do.
Number Eight- Biltmore Hotel
Located in Miami, the Biltmore Hotel was built in 1926 by a developer by the name of George Merrick. The hotel soon became host to glamorous fashion shows, golf tournaments, and even water shows. One evening, on the 13th floor of the hotel, a loud party led to death, when a gangster by the name of Thomas ‘Fatty’ Walsh was shot and killed by another rival gangster who was also attending the party. This murder ended up conjuring loads of ghostly rumors. When World War II was in full swing, the Biltmore became a military hospital, where many fallen soldiers took their last breaths. When the hospital finally closed in 1968, The Biltmore became a hotspot for kids looking for some paranormal fun. “All the kids would always talk about how there must be ghosts in there,” says Betsy Skipp, who grew up in Coral Gables where the Biltmore was constructed and would sneak into the Biltmore with her friends. “You’d sneak out of the house and we all had flashlights.” Today the Biltmore is again a banquet hall, hotel, and reception center. There still hang ghostly rumors in the air, as guests report seeing military-style dressed men in the hallways every now and then.
Number Seven: St. Augustine Lighthouse
One of the oldest lighthouses, The St. Augustine Lighthouse was built in 1874 and provided a safe guide for passing ships. (Some ships were not so lucky, such as the tales of the Jenny and Kaz II which you can read here.) The tower is a place where a few wandering spirits call home. One true story is the tragedy that befell the children of Hezekiah H. Pittee, who was superintendent of the lighthouse construction from 1871 until 1874. On July 10th, 1873 during the construction of the lighthouse, Pittee’s children were playing unsupervised on a supply cart that ran on the train tracks to where modern Salt Run is. When the cart rolled and hit the gate, the children were pinned and trapped until a worker heard them and was able to lift it up. The two youngest children survived, but the two oldest, Eliza and Mary, drowned in the salt run. Tragedy doesn’t end there for this lighthouse, however. In 1859, the lightkeeper Joseph Andreu was painting the tower when his scaffolding failed and he fell to his death 60-feet below. Today, visitors report strange happenings in the lighthouse. Body parts grabbed, furniture moving around by itself, and even a shadowy figure lurking the tower at night. SyFy’s ‘Ghost Hunters’ have also visited the location and found evidence that you can watch here.
Number Six: The Devil’s Chair in Lake Helen- Cassadaga Cemetery
The Devil’s Chair at the Lake Helen-Cassadaga Cemetery is one you may want to think twice about sitting in. Located in a town known for psychics and spiritualists, the cemetery has a chair, which is said to belong to the devil. If you sit down in this sinister chair, the devil is said to whisper to you, appear in front of you, and torment you for your days to come after taking a seat at midnight on his throne. Once built-in cemeteries for mourners, cemetery chairs have always been associated with legends and hauntings. Another legend of the chair tells that if a visitor were to leave a can of beer overnight, it will be empty by morning. The strange part is that the can is never opened.
Number Five: The Devil’s School
Located next to Interstate 10, The Devil’s School is an ancient-looking brick building that contains more legends than you can believe. Once Duval County’s Public School No. 4, this building was the site of a terrible furnace tragedy in the 1960s. Half of the students here were killed when a furnace exploded in the basement. Even since that day, the ghosts of the victims are said to haunt the school building, and that it is so haunted, that teachers refuse to work there. The school was shut down due to the lack of willing faculty, and a priest was even called in to exorcise the evil entities out of the building. Unproven legends aplenty, the building is said to house a killer janitor, who slew over 20 kids, devil worshippers, and even a cannibalistic school principal. We advise you to do your own research to separate fact from fiction when it comes to The Devil’s School.
Number Four: Capitol Theatre
The Capitol Theatre opened its doors on March 21st, 1921. A beautiful southern theatre, the Capitol is home to plenty of visitors who chose not to leave. Three major claims exist at the theatre, including an old man with a goatee known as ‘The Captain,’ who stalks the halls in a blue coat and fisherman’s hat, a ghost named ‘Bill’ who supposedly was killed on the balcony by tourists, and lastly a young girl, around 10 years old who playfully watches over the theatre and its patrons. Orbs have been captured on film in the balconies, alarms will go off unexpectedly, and the main chandelier will often start to swing with no seen outside force. Former employees report seeing ‘Ruth’ who was an employee of the box office. She can be seen wearing her blue smock uniform, walking down the aisles of the theatre.
Number Three: Enzian Theater
A gorgeous art-house theater surrounded by weeping willows, all seems peaceful and calm here. But at around one in the morning on moonless nights, locals report seeing a disembodied head screaming at the north corner of the building, soon disappearing into the kitchen!
Number Two: Sunland Hospital
Sunland Hospital or Sunland Mental Hospital was formerly located in the Pine Hills area of Orlando and was originally a hospital for those diagnosed with Tuberculosis. The hospital mainly cared for profoundly mentally and physically disabled children and adults during the 1960s and 70s. The hospital finally closed its doors in the mid-80s following many years of investigation into alleged neglect and horrific abuse of its patients. The spot where the hospital stood is now the alleged home to all the spirits that never left. For an in-depth look at the horrors that occur at Sunland, feel free to click here.
Number One: Robert The Doll
Last but certainly not least on our list is the infamous Robert the Doll. Any paranormal enthusiast has heard of this legendary haunted doll and is rightfully terrified of it. The story of Robert The Doll goes all the way back to the early 1900s when a young boy named Eugene Robert Otto was given a handmade doll made by a servant of his parents. Eugene quickly became attached to the doll. It wasn’t long before strange events started to happen around Eugene and his new best friend. One night, he awoke to find Robert sitting at the end of his bed, staring at him. His screams for help awoke his family and they found the door locked, pried it open, and found Eugene curled up on his bed in fear. The words Eugene uttered would go down in history… ‘Robert did it.’
How could a doll have such strong energy to move independently and lock a door? After this incident, loud noises started to happen throughout the house, Eugene started to have conversations with Robert as if he was a real person, and sightings of Robert in the windows were prevalent. But Eugene was not the only one who was terrorized by Robert. After his death in 1974, the new homeowner’s 10-year-old daughter found Robert in the attic, and she soon claimed that Robert was alive and wanted to hurt her.
Robert is now at the East Martello Museum, inside a glass case, which still does not stop him from inflicting fear and harm onto museum staff and visitors.
Featured Image Courtesy of Chad Sparkes