The Ghosts of Universal Orlando

We recently had reports sent to us at the HHNU Office that the Shrek attraction at Universal Orlando is supposedly haunted – wait for it – by the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock. So with this in mind and other real life spooky goings-on at everyone’s favorite Central Florida resort, we wanted to look at these weird reports to try and get to the bottom of what’s going on…

So why Alfred Hitchcock?

Alfred Hitchcock, for those that don’t know (and we’re sure there’s a few of you under that rock), was perhaps the greatest filmmaker of the Twentieth Century. A career that lasted for over 60 years, the ‘Master of Suspense’, the original ‘auteur’ – his contribution to cinema not only informed the peers of his day but also inspire the way in which film directors work to this very day.

When he left this mortal coil in 1980 he had worked with Universal for the final two decades of his life. His production company Shamley which held the licensing to all his pictures that he produced in the second half of his career was quickly acquired by Universal to cement his reputation as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. That’s why in the months after his death the idea was floated of adding a celebration-come-attraction to the plans for Universal’s own ‘Florida Project’.

When Universal Orlando opened in 1990 it featured the Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies, which was formerly located in the now Shrek building. It was a glorious attraction that mixed a show elements with practical sets that guests could explore. It featured a 3D film which featured the greatest scares from his back catalogue of movies. Hitchcock wasn’t a horror director but he did direct a cacophony of thrillers that featured everything from adventure to spying but mostly murder – the latter of which was the key feature of the show. Birds flying at the screen, slicing knives and rotting corpses all presented in 3D to terrify guests. Added to this was a pre-show that featured Anthony Perkins star of Psycho who walked the guests through the process of making the infamous shower scene from his most famous movie. It was all topped-off with recreations of sets from Rear Window, Saboteur and the famous trombone shot tower from Vertigo (possibly the greatest movie of all time as voted by modern film critics).

However it was not to last…

Very quietly and without warning the final guests to make their way through the Orlando unique attraction was on January 3rd 2003. It later reopened to the attraction that we know today, Shrek 4D some 6 months later. With Jaws and Back to the Future following suit soon after, it now leaves just ET as the sole opening day attraction.

So why does Hitchcock supposedly haunt the Shrek attraction?

We reached out to social media to ask what weird things have been occurring and received a variety of responses. Our good buddy Kevin Contini said:

“I’ve worked there in 06. Two coworkers of mine had run ins with Mr. Hitchcock in the first theater. Doors have shut on them on their own accord, lights went off…”

When questioned Kevin said:

“Nah, my coworkers were serious!”

We also received the following report from a current Universal employee who didn’t want to be named:

“Yes, the place is literally haunted by Alfred. His spirit walks that soundstage and he is not happy the ogre replaced his beloved attraction… The weirdest experience I had was one evening we were waving the last group out the door and as I walked back the Pinocchio animatronic started to rapidly kick his legs and then it stopped. The room was deathly silent and then that, it was very strange.”

Another employee posted about this topic in the HHN Group:

“Just wanted to say if any if yall want an Alfred Hitchcock house just work at Shrek. Believe me he haunts the heck out of that place! Also the second theatre of Shrek has officially closed for the year and team members aren’t allowed in so the house construction in there has began! (It also didn’t make Alfred too happy.. he broke our first theatre in revenge the first day it went down).”

He continued:

“We have to say hi to Alfred every morning or he gets angry and stuff will go wrong. In the ride throughs in the morning there’s quite often a seat in the back row that will go down and when the show finishes it’ll go back. All the team members there know it aha.”

Another former Shrek staffer told us:

“Lights going out, doors opening unexpectedly, weird bangs and that spooky backrow. Shrek aint got nothing on Sir Hitchcock!”

So the jury’s out on this one – is Alfred Hitchcock haunting the Shrek building? Who knows!? We do know that an actual fiend was birthed within these walls, well the trailer behind the attraction he was. Some of you may not know this uber HHN fan fact, but Jack the Clown, HHN’s icon-extraordinaire was literally born within the Hitchcock attraction at the rear in a production trailer. A fact revealed within my HHN book and via James Keaton who plays Jack via an episode of our very popular HHN based podcast ScareZone. Maybe the spirit of Alfred embiggens the murderous nature of our beloved HHN icon?

8741a5eec1ef0c12fe725a645189af9f
This photo was taken straight after the makeup was still wet from the Hitchcock trailer.

So what other ghostly apparitions have also been occurring at Universal?

  • During last year’s HHN, the scareactors working The Exorcist house reported an assortment of strange happenings. Daytime lights were said to flicker when instead they should have been constant, scareactors reported hearing weird noises and some staffers said that strange things happened to them each night after working the house. A number of guests wouldn’t even venture into the house; such was the fear for this epic property. Creepy with a capital C.
  • Our good buddy Dr. Jimmy reached out with an urban legend that was told to us many years ago, he said: “A workman died when they were building Kongfrontation, he fell from some scaffolding or something. His ghost haunted the attraction for years. Many TMs saw an extra passenger on the trams after they were empty… but when they looked in he was gone. He also showed up on monitors frequently. I’ve heard the mummy is still haunted, but there may be more than one ghost now, a guest died on the ride shortly after it opened!”
  • Another ghostly tale comes from Universal’s Hollywood studio with the ghost of Lon Chaney. Chaney was the star of many of Universal’s original monster movies, the movies that literally made this studio. Stage 28 which was built for his most famous movie The Phantom of the Opera featured a full sized remake of the Parisian Theater from the picture. Years since, the set had remained for decades with Universal staffers all saying that a black cloaked stranger had been witnessed hiding within the balconies of the theater. The reports happened so often that Security Guards even stopped searching the soundstage when reports came in (there was even a TV movie made about the Phantom of Stage 28) But don’t worry scaredy cats out there, the soundstage was sadly demolished in 2016 to make way for future park expansions. It was only built in 1924, but hey…
  • Our final ghost is REAL. Yes REAL and actively haunts the restrooms of Islands of Adventure! That’s right Moaning Myrtle herself can be found during park hours haunting the stalls of every toilet in the Hogsmeade section of IOA. Spooooky…
IMG_9903
This ghost was scribbled onto the set by an unknown scareactor when the Shrek attraction was used during HHN for it’s first outing during the event with the 3D Alice in Wonderland house at HHN25.

Our good buddy and Universal Orlando’s original producer, Julie Zimmerman said about the Hitchcock ghost:

“Well I have not heard this before, like Christopher Stapleton said, he designed that attraction… I would say if Hitchcock’s spirit is anywhere it would be Universal Hollywood… If anything at USF would have seen the Spirit of Hitchcock I would say it would have been the Bates Motel of Psycho house, now gone but as I worked in a trailer back there, long before they tore it down, I never picked up any vibe…now Hollywood I am sure is a different story…”

So there you have it, the ghosts of Universal Orlando! And you thought the Haunted Mansion was scary!!

Have you experienced any ghostly times in the parks? Let us know in the comments!

Advertisements