Theme parks are generally considered to be some of the happiest places on Earth, or so Disney would have us believe. Exciting and thrilling rides, lively sing-along shows, novelty characters in colourful costumes and attractive scenery are just some of the things you can expect to see and experience in theme parks around the world.
But they aren't always exclusively sources of happiness - far from it, in fact. Theme parks can be some of the scariest places imaginable - and not just because of the big drops and high speeds on the rides or the plastic scares provided on themed haunted attractions.
Ghosts are said to be prominent in a number of theme parks around the world and, in some cases, very specific to certain rides. Whether it's because an accident killed a tourist or because a loyal employee refuses to leave their job even in death, spectral beings have been known to make themselves seen and heard on all manner of attractions.
So let's take a look at some of those rides that are believed play host to some spooky passengers. And next time you venture out to a theme park with the intention of having a fun-filled day, remember, you might have more company than you realise.
10 Storm Surge (Thorpe Park)
The ride area for Storm Surge was said to be haunted during its construction and, such was the impact of the haunting, that its location was moved elsewhere.
Builders working on the Storm Surge water ride in England's Thorpe Park - which was originally meant to be built on the footpath that has linked the ruins of Chertsey Abbey to Thorpe Church since AD666 - reported seeing a headless monk, feeling as if someone was behind them, experiencing sudden chills and objects moving of their own accord.
As a result of the reports - and believing the construction might have been disturbing an ancient burial site - the ride was moved and built in a new location.
9 The Haunted Mansion (Walt Disney World)
The first of a number of entries in Disney's parks (which are, remember, dubbed the "happiest" places on Earth), this themed haunted attraction in Orlando, Florida is said to be genuinely occupied by at least two ghosts.
A visitor took a random photo, for example, only to see a little ghost boy looking back at him once the photo was developed. A little ghost boy has also been seen running around in the ballroom area of the ride. Could either of these be due to the ashes once spread on the ride by a woman whose deceased son loved to ride the Haunted Mansion?
A phantom cast worker has also been seen on the ride and is rumoured to be a deceased former employee who loved his job.
8 Ghost Train (Blackpool Pleasure Beach)
The Ghost Train at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in England is said to be frequented by an actual ghost and he has even been given an affectionate name - "Cloggy".
Cloggy is so called because he is believed to be the spirit of a former train operator on the ride who used to wear clogs. It is often made known that his footsteps have been heard on and around the ride when nobody is around, with both visitors and employees having reported such experiences.
He is well known around Blackpool - pretty much everyone in the town has heard of him - but he's not the only ghost on the Pleasure Beach; ghosts are often sighted in the cellars of the resort (including one that apparently looks like Karl Marx).
7 Wooden Swings (Lake Shawnee Amusement Park)
Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in West Virginia has actually been closed since 1966, but it still stands - eerily abandoned - with its rides completely intact.
The wooden swings, however, still sometimes appear to get some action - and it is believed that's because the ghost of a young girl still likes to ride them, in spite of the fact that she died on them.
The youngster was in one of the circling swings when a truck backed in to her and killed her, but the fact that they still swing on their own, eerie breezes have been experienced near the site and, more explicitly, a ghostly girl in a bloody dress has been seen would suggest she didn't actually leave.
Then again, it might just be because the park was built on an old Indian burial ground...
6 Space Mountain (Disneyland)
The second Disney entry on this list, this time it's Hollywood's Disneyland in the limelight, as the park's Space Mountain roller coaster is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a past park guest.
The spirit has been given the name “Mr. One-Way”, due to the fact that he is believed to be the ghost of a Disneyland visitor who rode Space Mountain in the 1970s, but didn't make it off the popular ride alive.
He has been described as being a large man, with red hair and a red face, and he has been seen entering ride carriages with a lone rider sitting in them, only to have completely disappeared once the ride finishes and returns to the boarding area.
5 Hex (Alton Towers)
Alton Towers is a theme park built around the former country estate of the Earls of Shrewsbury in England, with the towers themselves still standing in the middle of the park.
The towers - which started life as an Iron Age fort before 1000BC - are said to be haunted by a number of ghosts, but only one ride is built within them. That ride is Hex: The Legend of the Towers, which is a walk-through dark ride experience in the old armoury and picture gallery - and that is said to have played host to a lot of spectral activity.
Guests queuing for the ride have not only claimed to have seen ghostly children in old Victorian clothing, but reports of guests actually being hit by stones thrown by unseen assailants are rife.
4 Pirates Of The Caribbean (Walt Disney World)
Pirates of the Caribbean - the dark ride on which the popular film franchise of the same name is loosely based - is a staple part of most Disney parks. The one in Walt Disney World in Florida (yes, it's Disney again!), however, is said to be haunted.
The ghost in question is said to be that of a construction worker, called George, who is believed to have died during the building of the ride.
George is believed to be friendly - unless you don't believe in him, in which case he can prove to be very mischievous - and the staff at the park say "good morning" and "good night" to him every day so he doesn't cause the ride to break down (something he is said to have been to blame for several times over the years).
3 Jet Stream (Six Flags Magic Mountain)
Six Flags Magic Mountain in California is said to be the home of a number of ghosts, but the one being focused on here frequents the log flume boat ride known as the Jet Stream.
The ghost has come to be known as the "Grey Man" and not only has he actually been seen roaming the ride premises by several members of staff and park guests, he is also said to enjoy causing mischief by pulling the hair of park guests - both when they are standing in the queue for the ride and when they are actually on it.
Some people seem to believe that he appears to warn people when a storm is coming, but no theories regarding who he might actually be have ever been formulated.
2 The Tower Of Terror (Disneyland)
Back to Disney again! The Tower of Terror at Disneyland in California is themed around the old Twilight Zone television shows - which is spooky before even getting into the paranormal activity it has borne witness to - and sends park guests plummeting down several stories at great speed in a spooky old elevator.
It is the job of a maintenance man to sit on the ride every day before it opens, to test it is working, ready for tourists to arrive and board the ride.
One morning, when the maintenance man was testing the ride, a video camera caught a ghost sat behind him - a ghost that numerous park guests have claimed to have seen too. Nobody has claimed to know who the thrill-seeking spirit might be, however.
1 It's A Small World (Disneyland)
Although It's A Small World is a slow-moving and cheerful ride geared mostly towards children, it's quite easy to find the miniature animatronic characters quite creepy - even as an adult - and that's before adding ghosts to the equation.
The ride is present in several Disney parks around the world, but the one in Disneyland California is the one that is said to be haunted (seriously, Disney's actually pretty terrifying isn't it?!).
It is believed that the spirits are either deceased employees or park guests who loved the ride so much that they returned there from the afterlife. The way they are said to have manifested is by making the animatronic characters move, even after the ride has closed and the power has been shut off.
Did you enjoy this article? Have you been on any of these rides and witnessed anything spooky? Which other theme park rides are said to be haunted? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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