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Happy Aloha Friday!

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Making Christmas

Where can you find the perfect mix of Halloween and Christmas? Look no further than Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. The old New Orleans Square attraction gets a holiday overlay beginning in September and running through the Holidays.

Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is trying his hand at Christmas decorating. Jack O Lanterns with Santa hats, Wreaths with skulls and spider webs and Scarecrows impersonating the man in the red suit appear on the grounds of the deserted mansion.

Inside, the townspeople from Halloweentown are busy at work getting ready for Jack’s big holiday mash-up.

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Going to Dizzneyland

Do you like to go around and round? Getting dizzy in Disneyland is the perfect pastime. Especially after dark.

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Hooray For Hollywood

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Los Angeles is great way to get an up close at movie making from one of Hollywood’s legendary studios. It was Warner Bros. that released the first talkie, “The Jazz Singer” back in 1927. Since then, “Casablanca”, “The Music Man”, “Friends” and “ER” have all worn the Warner Bros. label.

Casablanca was filmed almost entirely on the backlots of Hollywood. The famous flashback scene of Bogie and Bergman looking out the window above Cafe Pierre lives on as the last standing set from the film.

Batman, my favorite super-hero has a strong presences on the lot. The facade for Police Headquarters in the 1960’s Adam West of Batman stands. There was only one shot of the facade taken and re-used for multiple episodes as the caped crusaders ran to Commisioner Gordon’s office.

The Batman garage features vehicles that span the history of the Batman franchise. Keep an eye out for Jared Leto’s Joker mobile, Christian Bale’s Tumbler, Batmobile’s from Val Kilmer and Michael Keaton’s portrayal of the Dark Knight.

Jason Momoa’s “Aquaman” is also featured on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. You can sit on the Throne of Atlantis and hold Aquaman’s trident.

You can also see original costumes worn by Gal Gadot and Chris Pine in “Wonder Woman”

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Marilyn Monroe’s Mirror

The four-star Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Blvd is one of the area’s most haunted hotels. It seems that some guests just refuse to leave. One such guest was the legendary, Marilyn Monroe.

The Roosevelt Hotel is named for President Teddy Roosevelt and was financed by Hollywood elite, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Louis B Mayer of MGM. Among the Hotels’ guests were Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Montgomery Clift (who still paces the halls of the 9th floor.)

Among the treasures of the Roosevelt is a particular mirror that used to be in Suite 1200 during the time that her modelling career was flourishing. Some believe that she comes back to the spot where she spent some of her happiest days. In the 80’s after a lengthy renovation, a mirror from the suite was relocated to an alcove off of the main lobby near the elevators.

One day as an employee was dusting the mirror, she noticed the reflection of a pretty blond woman. She turned around to say hello, but there was no one there. But, when she turned back to face the mirror, the woman was still there.

Marilyn is not the only spirit that haunts the halls of the Roosevelt Hotel. A ghostly apparition manifests on security cameras in the hotel pool. When security goes to investigate, there is no one there, yet the camera shows the swimmer standing next to the security guards.

Caroline is a five year old girl that likes to skip around the lobby singing and 2 gentlemen haunt The Blossom Room. One is seen wearing a tux, the other is heard playing the piano. Guests have been locked out of their rooms, the switchboard receives calls from empty rooms and yes, Montgomery Clift is heard practicing the trumpet he played in “From Here To Eternity” outside room 928.

The Roosevelt Hotel is operational today and, if you dare, you can book a room and discover if it’s haunted for yourself.

https://www.thehollywoodroosevelt.com/

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Spending the Afterlife in Key West

Looking for somewhere to spend Eternity? Look no further than the Key West Cemetery. If you’d like to preview your everlasting rest stop, start at the entrance at Passover Lane and Angela St. and pick up a free map at the office.

The cemetery was built in 1847 after the original cemetery was washed away in a hurricane a year earlier. Bodies were discharged from the sandy graves and drifted down the street. Some reported that even after the waters subsided, there were bodies stuck in trees around the city. To prevent the horrors of the flood, the new cemetery was built on the highest ground in Key West. Some of the new gravesites are above ground like in New Orleans.

Walking around the cemetery gives you the impression that this is it’s own little city. Populated by the dead, chickens and iguanas.

Here lie the graves of Key West’s famous residents. See if you can find “Sloppy Joe” Russell, Hemingway’s fishing guide and famous bartender. Popular epitaphs located around the grounds showcase the eccentricities of the Key West population.

If you “Remember the Maine” stop near the entrance where there is a fenced in area that contains the remains, known and unknown of many of the 260 sailors killed in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898. An explosion occurred by accident and not a Spanish mine, as was originally thought. William Randolph Hearst and other newspapers shouted ‘Remember the Maine!’ and was the beginning of US involvement in the Spanish-American War.

Visit the grave of Norm Taylor aka Captain Outrageous. He legally changed his name to run as mayor of Key West. Visitors to the gravesite often leave offerings of Mardi Gras beads to let him know that he is remembered.

A giant Florida Conch marks the grave of Sir Peter Anderson, Secretary General of The Conch Republic. Sir Peter was one of those colorful people that made Duval Street so much fun.

As you wander among the graves and enjoy the sun bleached marble headstones, look carefully and pick out your future spot.

The Friends of Key West Cemetery website has information on the famous and infamous buried here. Check it out below…

http://www.friendsofthekeywestcemetery.com/

A memorial to Captain Outrageous can be found here…

https://captainoutrageouskeywest.blogspot.com/

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My Ghost Story – Encounter in Key West

Francisco Marrero, a cigar maker from Cuba, built a beautiful home at 410 Fleming Street, Key West. He hoped that it would to lure his love, the beautiful Enriquetta to join him on the island. They lived happily married for many years having 8 children together. Unfortunately, Francisco had already been married in his home country. After his death, his first wife found out about the second marriage and the mansion in Key West. Six months later, she arrived on the island with her lawyers and Enriquetta was evicted from the mansion with her children. Standing on the street as she was thrown out she cried “Esta es mi casa para siempre y nunca me voy a ir” “I will always remain in spirit.” The first wife, Maria Ignacia Garcia de Marrero sold off the house and all its contents and returned to her home in Cuba. Within a few years of being tossed out on the street, Enriquetta and all 8 children died of Tuberculosis or diphtheria.

I stayed at the Guest House with a small group of friends, we had asked specifically for haunted rooms. I was in Room 18, Enriquetta’s old room and my friends were in the front room that had been the children’s nursery. A doorway between the two rooms had been plastered over and a large Armoire stood on my side of the wall. When I first entered the room, I noticed a strong smell of a very flowery perfume. The basket of potpourri on the dresser was old and had no scent left. I took this as a sign that I was welcome in her home.

My friends decided to hit the pool upon checking in and went to my room for a nap. It’s a long drive from Orlando to the Keys. The bed was comfortable and I fell asleep with no problem. When I awoke a short time later, the armoire at the end of the bed was standing wide open. It had been locked shut when I entered the room. Upon further inspection, I was locked in my room. The privacy lock wouldn’t open and the host was unable to unlock it from the outside. He ended up crawling across the small roof form the next room and climbing through the window. After forcing the door open I was able to join my friends downstairs on the porch.

We met the housekeeper who informed us that we had just missed a television crew. They had been filming a haunted travel documentary and Enriquetta was not happy about it. She told us that when Enriquetta is upset, she likes to walk through her. This feels like a freezing cold spasm through her body that only lasts a moment. The housekeeper had a special relationship with Enriquetta and was very careful to try and keep her happy at all costs.

On my last night in the room, after hearing the sound of empty bottles being dumped from a nearby bar, I drowsily looked up to see a figure standing in the window. I can only imagine that it was Enriquetta. The clattering bottles pouring into the dumpster had disturbed her and from the scowl on her face, she was pissed. I was still too sleepy to comprehend what I was seeing, but it didn’t strike me as odd at the time, that the woman in the room was only visible from the waist up. Even more so, when she dissolved into the early morning, I simply rolled over and went back to sleep.

Enriquetta’s spirit can be gentle and playful. Sometimes, playing pranks on her guests or softly brushing up against them. The sound of her children crying was also reported during our stay. I can safely say that, Marrero’s is HAUNTED. Check out these links for reservations and more of Enriquetta’s story.

http://marreros.com/

https://southernmostghosts.com/most-haunted-places-in-key-west-5-marreros-guest-mansion/

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The Ghostly Monk of Westminster Abbey

It’s inevitable that Westminster Abbey would be haunted. More than 3,000 bodies are buried on the grounds. Long ago in the 6th century the area where Westminster sits was an island on the banks of the Thames. Originally called The Collegiate College of St. Peter, Westminster Abbey is the most important churches in London.

Many people have reported seeing the spirit of a monk floating above the ground in the cloisters. It is believed that this is Father Benedictus, who served as a Benedictine monk of the abbey. The monk is said to appear around five or six in the evening. His figure appears to be solid, and he has been known to engage visitors in conversation. It is not uncommon for a guest to encounter Father Benedictus and hold a lengthy conversation before he backs up and melts into a wall.

The facade of Westminster Abbey is covered in extremely detailed carvings of Saints and Gargoyles. Technically, a Gargoyle is a water spout, other creatures are Grotesques or Chimeras taking the place of architectural corbels or supports. My favorite is a sculpture of a little bat.

Within the Abbey lies the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a memorial to the soldiers who died in World War 1. On 11th November 1920, an unidentified soldier’s body was given a royal funeral and buried in soil brought form the battlefield in France. Underneath a marble stone quarried in Belgium the unknown warrior lies in eternal rest. On occasion, once the crowds have left the Abbey and the halls are silent, a spectral soldier appears next to the tomb. He materializes slowly and stands quietly for a time with his head bowed. After a few minutes he simply dissolves into thin air.

If you’d like to visit The Abbey for yourself, you can find all of the important information here

https://www.westminster-abbey.org/

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The Bloody Tower

In the 1070s, William the Conqueror, chose to build a massive stone fortress in London. Taking about 20 years to build, the Tower of London serves to defend and proclaim William’s royal power. The mighty castle keep dominated the London skyline, but also served a reminder to the defeated Londoners.

Later Henry III and Edward I added the surrounding walls and smaller towers along it’s length. In 1533 King Henry VII modernized the castle in anticipation of his marriage to the young Anne Boleyn. Only three years later, she found herself back at the Tower charged with adultery and waiting for her death.

Anne was escorted to the Green where she lost her head. The site is memorialized with a glass pillow. Many claim to have seen the apparition of Anne walking the grounds with her head tucked underneath her arm.

Two young princes are said to haunt The Bloody Tower. Richard and Edward met their tragic fate within the walls. Sent to the Tower by their unscrupulous and power hungry uncle, the Duke of Gloucester and kept under lock and key. In 1483, the buys mysteriously disappeared. The gossip was that Richard, Duke of Gloucester had them murdered to become Richard III. Many decades later, the skeletons of two young boys were found entombed under a staircase. The two princes were given a proper royal burial but their spirits are still restless.

Tragedy haunted The Tower in the early centuries of it’s existence. Lady Jane Grey, also known as “The Nine Day Queen” was kept prisoner within it’s confines. Only sixteen years old, on February, 12 1554, she sobbed as she watched her husband, Guildford Dudley, being led to his execution. That same day, the young girl who was forced towards the throne by an ambitious father-in-law, bravely walked to her own death. From that day forward, on the anniversary of her execution, a white shimmering mist floats from the mists of the river and strolls sadly around the Tower Green.

Look closely at this enlarged area from the other photo. Do you see the ghosts of Lady Jane Grey looking down?

For more about The Tower of London, check out these links…

https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/488/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_London

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Spectral Cats and Dogs

Near The Tower of London, All Hallow’s Church shared in the bloody history of it’s neighbors. Legend states that the beheaded victims of Tower executions were sent there for temporary burial. Among it’s happier memories are the baptism of William Penn and the marriage of John Quincy Adams. Being so close to The Tower of London, one may expect All Hallow’s to have it’s share of headless spirits. This is a different kind of ghost story.

In 1920, the choir noticed a grey haired old lady in old fashioned dress watching them as they practiced Christmas Carols. The choirmaster was surprised to see the woman as he had locked the church’s door. Once they choir rehearsal had ended, the mysterious woman had vanished. The boys heard a strange sound “as if a cat was in the building and was trying to get out.” One of the boys shouted to the choirmaster, ‘There it is sir! I saw a cat rush out of the room and go down towards the south aisle!’ The group searched the aisles for the cat and found nothing, even noting that the front doors were still locked. Several years later, an old man approached the choirmaster. He explained that he thought he knew who the mysterious woman was. As a choirboy at that very church almost 60 years prior, there was an eccentric lady organist with a strong passion for cats. He told him that cats would follow the woman everywhere and she would pay him to help feed the cats.

The Atheneum Club, The Traveler’s Club and The Reform Club are located off of Pall Mall. On our last night in London, we took part in a ghost tour. As we stood in front of these old men only clubs once frequented by the likes of Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, we listened to the story of a phantom dog that caused car accidents. It has been reported that several accidents were caused when a dog ran out in front of one of the drivers. No sooner than the end of this tale, two cars next to us got into a fender bender. The first driver said she saw something jump in front of her car.

Tucked away in this square lies the grave of a German Shepherd named Giro. Giro was the companion of the German Ambassador who resided in the area. It is considered the only Nazi memorial in the UK and in recent years there has been discussion of removing it. Could Giro be running around the Mall after dark just trying to be a real dog?

You can read more about Giro and his master here…

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/london-s-hidden-memorial-to-a-nazi-dog

For more information on pets in the afterlife check out my friend Rob’s books…

http://ghostsandspiritsinsights.blogspot.com/

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