For years now, I’ve heard the legend of George, the real ghost who supposedly haunts the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. The “scary” version of his tale tells of a construction worker killed while the ride was being built who haunts it to this very day. Although I’ve never been able to find 100 percent confirmation of that tale, click here for an excellent discussion of George on the 2719 Hyperion website. Apparently there is something, even though the accident backstory may not be correct.
George is generally regarded as a friendly ghost, but he has a reputation for making mischief for non-believers. Legend has it that the Pirates of the Caribbean cast members say “good morning” and “good night” to him each day so he doesn’t muck up the works and cause a breakdown. Guests who profess not to believe in him sometimes feel his wrath. I scoffed but tried this a couple of times and always had a malfunction. My spouse and friends can attest to this since I’ve always had someone with me. I finally learned not to taunt George and had nice, uneventful rides.
Last night I visited Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party with my husband and two friends. Three of us decided to ride, while the fourth waited outside. If our timing was correct, we knew we’d emerge from the ride with enough time to walk to the Castle and enjoy the special fireworks show.
As we walked down the queue line, I told our friend about George, since he’d never heard the legend. I offered to demonstrate by mocking George but my husband, who has witnessed the ghost’s power before, said, “I wouldn’t do that.” Of course, that made me more determined. Surely the previous times were coincidence and it was just harmless fun, right? Surely there isn’t really a George…right?
All went well for most of the ride, and I felt vindicated. I’d professed not to believe in George and, for once, nothing had happened. We sailed merrily along until we reached the scene towards the end with the pirate on the bridge whose leg hangs down and the one on the right side with the pigs. At that point, we hit a backup of boats, but I was still complacent. Surely that was just a backup to the loading dock, right? We’d inch along, get off the ride, and head out to the fireworks.
Alas, the boats didn’t move. The minutes ticked by…and by…and by. This was something more than a backup. My fear was confirmed by an announcement on the loudspeaker. Pirates had ceased operation! I sat there, ignoring my husband’s “I told you so” stare. Maybe it was still coincidence. Surely we’d be underway soon.
Time kept passing and I realized that George was punishing me by keeping me on his ride so I couldn’t see the fireworks. People in boats around us were getting bored and violating the no flash photography rule. Eventually my husband whipped out his own camera and snapped a shot of the “pig pirate,” which you can see at left. I silently wished to myself that George would have had the good taste to at least strand me in front of Johnny Depp.
Finally, when 20 minutes had elapsed, George decided I’d endured enough punishment and deigned to let us, and our fellow guests, continue on our way. By that time I can only imagine just how far the backup stretched through the ride. I had aimed to prove to my companions that the tale of George was just legend, but now there was no way I could convince them that it was anything but real…sigh. The fireworks were in full swing when we exited, so we watched the remainder of the show from Frontierland and I accepted my supernatural punishment for being a scoffer, especially around Halloween.
The next day, my husband was reading the Hyperion website entry about George and he pointed something out to me that sent chills down my spine:
…if you’re one of many who sometime feel a little uneasy after going under the pirate with the hairy leg and before coming upon the Jail; you may have had an encounter with George. He especially seems to be near that particular bend in the track, close to his door.
OMG, I spent 20 minutes starting up at that pirate’s hairy leg! George had apparently stalled us in “his” part of the ride, just to make sure I would get the message loud and clear never to mock him again.
Usually the Central Florida scares are reserved for events like Halloween Horror Nights and Howl-O-Scream. Click here to read about what to expect in a manmade “haunted” house at those parks. Click here to read more of my articles, and click here to follow me on Twitter. Click here to sign up for my pets newsletter if you love animals, and click here for my Pet Supplies & Product Reviews site on About.com. I’ve taken over 80 Disney cruises and can book yours and give you a special stateroom credit. Visit www.dclexpert.com.