Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Even if you find yourself skeptical about all things supernatural, it is still a great deal of fun to gather with friends in a darkened room and take turns swapping spooky stories about ghostly legends, otherworldly beings, and various unexplained freakiness. And while Orange County may look like a happy paradise for candy gathering and pumpkin carving, within its borders lays a wealth of source material from which many a perfectly bone-chilling tale of eeriness can be spun. From famous tourist attractions to haunted celebrity boats, OC contains enough allegedly haunted places to make you think twice about turning off your night light for several weeks, as the following list demonstrates. Read on, if you dare:
1313 S.Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
The Happiest Place on Earth has long been rumored to be one of the spookiest places in all of Orange County. The ghost of Walt himself is believed to roam the grounds of his beloved Magic Kingdom. The spirit of the lady who perished on the Matterhorn purportedly haunts the spot on the track where she met her untimely demise. And it should be no surprise that several dreary accounts originate from the Haunted Mansion; the darkest of which is the specter of a young boy that weeps near the ride’s exit, allegedly upset that his mom sprinkled his ashes amongst the ride against his will.
El Adobe de Capistrano Restaurant
31891 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
This Mexican eatery – one of Richard Nixon’s favorite places to dine at whenever he was out this way – is housed in one of OC’s most historic buildings, as its roots can be traced back to 1778. So it stands to reason a structure this old is going to be linked to some spooky stuff. And frankly, not too many Orange County ghost stories get much creepier than the one attached to this structure; unless, of course, you don’t find the thought of encountering a headless, axe-wielding monk outside its doors all that freaky.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
26801 Ortega Hwy
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Unlike the El Adobe, the ghost of the monk who is reported to haunt this legendary mission has a head. It’s a shame that he doesn’t have a face, though. But if you do enjoy tales of ghosts missing their melons, don’t fret; the mission contains a noggin-free soldier that stands watch over the grounds. Well, as best as he can, anyway. And those that like weird, unexpected noises should note that the bells on the mission’s grounds do have a nasty habit of ringing by themselves at random hours of the night.
John Wayne’s “Wild Goose” Yacht
3300 Newport Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92663
Apparently, “The Duke” loved Newport Beach so much, he hasn’t quite left it yet. Such is the story behind the eerie happenings on board this luxury yacht that the actor bought in 1979, mere months before he succumbed to cancer. Tales of loud footsteps, lights mysteriously switching off and on, and doors of empty rooms locking from the inside have all been reported over the years by several different people.
Black Star Canyon
Black Star Canyon Rd
Silverado, CA 92676
Nestled amongst the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains, this infamous canyon is far and away regarded as the creepiest place in all of Orange County. The rustic beauty that can be enjoyed within this secluded, rugged patch of land during the day is overwhelmed by the avalanche of weirdness that purportedly happens here at night. Wild tales of deranged screams, shape-shifting figures, tormented apparitions, and even satanic cult-like activity have been attached to the canyon’s disturbing legend.
US Naval Weapons Station
800 Seal Beach Boulevard
Seal Beach, CA 90740
This massive military compound was built upon an Indian burial ground. As any horror movie aficionado can tell you, this is bad news. Sure enough, the complex’s security guards have supposedly endured decades of torture from unexplained footsteps, flickering lights, disembodied whispering, and violent shrieks.
12174 Euclid St.
Garden Grove, CA
This historic home located in the heart of Orange County is noted to contain several ghosts. Its most legendary otherworldly resident, however, is reported to be the ghost of original owner Agnes Stanley; bitter by the fact that she could no longer climb the building’s stairs in her twilight years, her spirit blocks the steps, which apparently makes it difficult for some guests to ascend to the second floor.
Practically Any High School in Orange County
Nearly every high school in the county has managed to cultivate a spooky story around its halls over the years. And for some reason, a good chunk of these tales tend to originate from within auditoriums; Huntington Beach High, Santa Ana High, and Irvine High are just some of the learning facilities whose theatre spaces are reported to be spooked by teen spirits.
Anaheim Red Cross
418 N. West St.
Apparently, not all ghosts are out to scare you. Take the spirit that is reported to haunt this historic property. According to legend, when a man and a woman walk up the steps to the second floor, the ghost of the house’s original caretaker will push them together if he considers them to be a perfect couple. Whether such a story is creepy or cute is entirely up to your discretion.
Rich Manning is an Orange County writer who blogs at Foodie a Go Go.