Tips and Resources for Investigating the Haunted ‘Queen Mary’ Ship

For many people visiting California, the haunted ship – the Queen Mary – is a must-see. And a must-investigate. Some ghost hunters claim the ship is home to over 100 ghosts.

Whether or not such high numbers are accurate, the Queen Mary “ghost ship” is still an iconic haunted site, and worth visiting if you’ll be in the Los Angeles area.

Note: If you’ve always wanted to spend the night on the Queen Mary, I recommend doing so, soon. As an April 2018 article in the L.A. Times explained, “An engineering report has warned that the ship urgently needs $5.7 million in fixes and requires a total of $289 million in repairs over the next five years.”

If the money isn’t raised in the next five years… well, I’m not sure what the alternative is. That’s why I recommend spending the night in the near future, if it’s on your bucket list.

You’ll probably want to start with the history of the ship. The Queen Mary ship site features a summary: The Queen Mary – A Trip Across Time.

Of course, one suite on the ship – Stateroom B340 – is legendary. It’s also open to overnight guests. Here’s a Forbes article: The Queen Mary Opens Up Its Haunted Hotel Suite For An Overnight Ghostly Experience.

Note: If you’re uneasy with the Ouija board in the room, bring it to the front desk and ask them to store it until after you check out.

If you’ll be investigating the ship’s ghosts and haunted rooms, listen to the following podcast. It’s nearly an hour long. It’s well narrated in a “ghost story” style, and – even better – it includes a superb interview with Commodore Everette Hoard (ship’s historian) of the Queen Mary.

He provides some intriguing insights. They could be especially useful if you’re looking for triggers to prompt ghostly activity or EVP responses.

YouTube link: https://youtu.be/r__5_AnpUsA

And finally, this recent article could save you money, time, and perhaps some irritation. It’s by someone who spent the night at the Queen Mary. (To read the entire article, visit What’s It Like to Spend the Night Aboard the Haunted Queen Mary?)

Here are some of the many tips from that article:

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If you’re arriving from LAX, which we were, they don’t have a hotel shuttle between the Queen Mary and the airport. We Uber’ed it for $80. A taxi will cost you about the same…

I was sort of surprised about the security out front. Not that there were guards with machine guns or anything. Just staff to direct you to the appropriate place depending on whether you were checking in or coming just to have dinner or do a night activity.

Our luggage gave us away. It was pretty obvious we were there to check-in so up the elevator to Level 3 or “A” Deck we went to.

Check-In

There’s really nothing special about check-in. It’s the same as anywhere else basically.

Except if you’ve always wanted to stay aboard the ship. Then you might be giddy and bursting with excitement like I was!

Also, I was enamored with the decor. It wasn’t as grand as I’d expected. Dated really. Yet, I was okay with that. It retained its authentic charm.

The check-in lobby’s centerpiece
The Stairs across from the lobby. But gives you a good sense of the decor/atmosphere.
Time zone clocks above the check-in. Not sure they’re still functioning though.

Tips

  1. If you drive yourself, be prepared to pay for parking. ($22 for overnight.)
  2. If you’re not driving there yourself, and you want a cheaper option than Uber, Lyft or taxis, SuperShuttle and Prime Shuttles go to and from the Queen Mary also. It would’ve cost us about $35 total for the both of us to get there. We did book a shuttle back to the airport through the hotel. (We went with SuperShuttle for $30 for the both of us. That’s a $50 savings over Ubering it!)
  3. You can also use public transit to get there. That will also save you a bit of money on transportation cost, but you’ll have to trade time for money. (Meaning it will take you a little longer to get there.) Also, you wouldn’t want to do this if you had a lot of luggage to schlep around. There will be walking involved.
  4. Maybe ask if there non-adjoining rooms carry sound from neighbors a little less. (We’re thinking the door in our room that adjoined to our neighbor’s maybe contributed to being able to hear them so well?)

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RESOURCES

If you’re going to spend much time or money (or both), learn as much as you can, before your visit.

  • Ghosts of the Queen Mary by Brian Clune and Bob Davis is a recent-ish (2014) book with very good reviews. However, the Kindle edition is so expensive, I recommend getting the printed book instead. (Besides, I prefer printed books.)
  • The Haunted Queen Mary by the Wlodarskis is a small (110 pages) book with mixed reviews. I recommend getting an inexpensive, used copy at Amazon for one important reason: It was publishing in 2000, before ghost hunting became so trendy. So, though the stories may not be as colorful as those in more recent books, they could be more reliable.
  • And, as a reminder, here’s the link to Haunt Jaunts’ recent article about spending the night aboard the Queen Mary….

What’s It Like to Spend a Night Aboard the Haunted Queen Mary?

Winchester Mystery House – Ghosts Inside?

Eerie photo of Winchester Mystery HouseThe Winchester Mystery House is the focus of a stylish 2018 movie starring Helen Mirren.

Some of the house’s strange elements aren’t quite what they seem, and – in historical context – may have been more practical than spiritual.

Other, recent “discoveries” at the house – including Sarah Winchester’s attic – set off my skeptic alarms.

However, much of the Winchester house’s most compelling paranormal evidence isn’t obvious.  It’s layered in history, mystical beliefs, and secrets.

They’re why I believe the Winchester Mystery House is haunted.

Here are a few videos to introduce you to the strange (and sometimes chilling) Winchester story.

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The next video is a 7 1/2 minute visual tour of the Winchester Mystery House. The soundtrack is entirely music, no verbal descriptions.

If you’re looking for ghost stories or history, you may want to skip ahead to the “Winchester Mystery House – Secrets of the Mansion” series, further down this page. That series delivers a tour of the house plus details of Sarah Winchester’s life, and how the house was built.

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I recommend the following four short (4-5 minutes, each) videos in a series, “Winchester Mystery House – Secrets of the Mansion.”

The sound quality is okay, but not great. Despite that, if you want a good overview of the history – including some ghostly legends – this series is worth your time. You’ll gain a far better understanding of why the Winchester story is so compelling.

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My next link to a Winchester Mystery House video starts around the 3:20 mark, and includes an interesting paranormal story. It resonates with similar stories I’ve heard in other haunted locations. To me, it seems credible.

(After she finishes telling her story, fast-forward to the 7:46 point. There, another tour guide describes her own eerie experience. After the 8:19 mark, the video shows a little more of the house, but no additional stories.)

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YouTube videos I did not include:

    • Ghost Adventures S05E04 Winchester Mystery House – a YouTube video posted by Perdue Adrian. It’s probably the full episode (or more), but it’s in a skewed screen-in-screen image. If you want to see that episode, as of January 2018 it’s at Daily Motion.com.
    • Ghost Adventures S12E11 Return to Winchester Mystery House 1080p HDTV x264 tNe – another skewed screen image, with a link to another website “to see in full HD.” I don’t click on links like that. Instead, I recommend watching the full episode on Hulu. (That link was current in Jan 2018.)
    • If you’re looking for the Ghost Hunters episode (Season 2, Ep. 11) that includes the Winchester Mansion, it’s at Daily Motion, too.
    • Winchester Mansion: The House That Spirits Built – It Is Written. It explains why God warns us about seances and believing in ghosts, and uses the Winchester Mystery House as an example. (If you don’t believe in ghosts and you’re looking for a fairly high-quality Christian video, that’s probably the best relevant YouTube option.  The video references: Job 7:9-10, Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Leviticus 19:31, 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, and so on.)

But, if you’re a fan of the Winchester story, be sure to see the stylish, old-school (1963) video about the mansion, narrated by Lillian Gish, Mrs. Winchester’s House. For me, it was 30 minutes well spent.

In general, I think the Winchester house is one of America’s more enigmatic haunts. Its eerie legends and quirky history raises many questions. Some may only be answered by the ghosts.

The Orbs Issue in One 1910 Photo

Orbs are a hotly contested topic. Are they ghost orbs… or something less interesting?

ghostly orbs at gilson road cemetery
One of my own orb photos

My message today is: In ghost hunting, the most reliable person is yourself.

When anyone (including me) assures you that something is true, verify it.

Most orb debates would resolve quickly if people routinely tested their own cameras to see what dust, pollen, rain, fog, reflections, breath, and insects look like in those photos.

Do this yourself. Test every camera you use for ghost hunting. Deliberately stage “false orb” conditions.

Then, analyze those photos. Could you confuse them with truly anomalous orbs?

When I stumbled onto this discovery, I was embarrassed by how simple it was. For nearly 10 years, I’d kept insisting that most orbs were caused by dust, pollen, insects, reflections, and so on.

Then, after a heated argument with a long-time friend who insisted that all orbs are ghosts, I was irked. I set out to prove my theory. I really wanted to show him that he was wrong.

But then…

I discovered that it’s more difficult to create convincing, fake orbs — with dust, pollen, smoke, insects, etc. — than I’d realized.

The key word is “convincing.” Until you know what you’re looking for, most orbs can look alike.

I’ll explain more about this in the future.

For now, I’ve stumbled onto a great, old photo that shows some easily identified issues, as well as orbs that might be ghostly.

The following is a photo of the Custer Battlefield National Cemetery. The picture was taken in 1910, when photography was very different from now. But, the issues remain the same.

Sunrise at Custer Battlefield Cemetery - orbs

I’ve enlarged some of the orbs to show what might be an anomaly — also called a “ghost orb” — and what’s probably a glitch in the photo.

Processing Mistakes

First, an obvious glitch. In the photo above, the following area is in the lower right part of the picture, to the left of the white writing.

chemical spatters

That photo was processed in a lab. Chemical splashes and spatters could happen. That’s the most likely explanation for those irregular, somewhat circular areas.

Even in the 1990s, when I was taking film photos at haunted sites, I still had to examine the negatives for splashes and lab errors.

False Orbs – Dust and Insects

The next enlargement shows what could be pollen and insects, as well as some possible anomalies. In the original photo, this area is in the lower half of the picture, and just left of the center.

Orb #1 includes a clear dot. In a color photo, it might be yellow or orange. When it is, the orb is almost always caused by pollen.

But, I see other similar, small dots nearby. So, the orb might be real and the dots might be a glitch from the developing or printing process, or damage to the print during storage.

Solution: When you’re taking photos, ask a friend to stand to one side and in front of you. He or she can tell you if anything in the air looked highlighted by your flash.

Orb #2 is an odd shape, and part of it is more solid looking. That’s often a flying insect.

Solution: When you’re ghost hunting outdoors, regularly look up at streetlights, or have a friend leave a flashlight on for several minutes. Many insects are attracted to light.

If you see bugs flying in front of a light, keep them in mind when you’re analyzing your photos, later.

Miscellaneous Items

The next enlargement is from the sky area in the Custer photo. It’s near the top and to the right of the middle.

Irregular shape #1 is probably damage to the print or something that spilled on the negative.

Shape #2 could be almost anything, including an insect or two, or a printing glitch.

Possible Ghost Orbs

After ruling out things that look like false anomalies, I still see several orbs I can’t explain. Not entirely, anyway. (I am mindful that sunlight may have been streaming directly towards the camera.)

I’ve indicated a few possible orbs from the sky area of the photo. But, a closer examination of the original photo may reveal more.

ghost orbs at custer battlefield cemetery

Of course, they could be processing errors from the darkroom. They could be insects or pollen, or something else that’s perfectly normal.

I have no idea and, frankly, no one can be sure whether anything I’ve said is accurate about this photo.

We’d need to test the camera the photographer used.

That’s my point.

For the past several years, I routinely test every new camera. I want to see how dust, pollen, moisture, breath, smoke, and other issues may affect my photos.

It’s a semi-scientific approach to ghost photography. More importantly, testing each camera is the only way we can tell whether our photos include possible anomalies… or probable dust, insects, and so on.

This is important, as well: Even after those tests, we’ll have unanswered questions.

Never to assume that the logical, normal explanation is the only explanation. Something that “looks like dust” could still be an anomaly.

And, even if it is dust, you may have another mystery: What causes dust in that area, but nowhere else at that location or nearby?

In other words, the orb may not be the anomaly. Maybe the weird dust is.

Winchester Mystery House – Another Room?

Winchester Mystery House - A Hidden Room?The headline says “New room found at San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House,” and the article explains, “The home’s preservation team recently opened the new room, which is an attic space that has been boarded up since Sarah Winchester died in 1922.”

But, as another article – Winchester Mystery House Pries Open Creepy Attic Room Boarded Up In 1922 – explains…

But notably, Sarah’s attic isn’t being presented in its original location — instead, its items have been spirited away to another location on the grounds. “We have relocated the ‘attic’ to the central courtyard,” a representative from the Mystery House wrote on Facebook. “

In a typical “haunted” house, if the furnishings aren’t in the original room, I’ve lost at least half my interest.

New room at Winchester Mystery HouseOh, I’m certain that objects can hold ghostly energy

But, my past investigations  suggested that an equal amount of energy (or more) is in the walls, floor, and ceiling of the room.

Maybe that energy was absorbed from the objects. I don’t know. But, I am sure that a sealed room with its objects is likely to be more haunted than just those objects, placed in a courtyard.

To be fair, the attic room may have been unsafe or impractical to open to the public. So, moving the objects might have been the best option.

And, it probably goes without saying: the Winchester house is far from a “typical” haunted house. Its history was bizarre from the beginning.

Looking at the photo, above… all I needed to see were the old portrait and the doll. Those are two typical signals that the room is likely to have anomalies.

(I’m assuming that doll is composition and was actually in the room when it was opened. Several “haunted” sites have added dolls as props, to seem creepier. Know your doll history, so you’ll spot dolls that don’t fit the time period.)

With or without the “new room,” the Winchester Mystery House is one of America’s most enduring – and important – haunts.

For years, psychics and mediums have been sure that some of the house’s most haunted rooms were still hidden, or at least sealed. That’s confirmed by a room like this.

The Winchester Mystery House also provided evidence supporting the idea that ghostly activity – particularly poltergeists – seem to correlate with the presence of water. I think Colin Wilson was one of the first to mention that.

For about 10 years, when I heard a poltergeist report, I asked about the proximity to water. In over 95% of credible reports, water was within three feet of the activity: bars, kitchens, or bathrooms. Usually, the distance was closer to one foot.

The alternative was unexplained water that appeared on surfaces, immediately following the activity. That’s been reported at the Winchester house, as well.

Here’s a 10-minute video about the Winchester Mystery House, filmed by the “Weird US” guys.

If you’re interested in the history of the Winchester house, I recommend the half-hour documentary narrated by actress Lilian Gish, Mrs. Winchester’s House. That 1963 film is very stylish and captures the eerie mood of the site.

I’m thousands of miles from the Winchester Mystery House, so – for now – I’m unlikely to investigate at the house. (I’m finding a lot of great, weird information in books, old newspapers, and others’ articles.)

If you visit the house and can report on the activity around the new attic-related display, let me know in comments, below.

Titanic Exhibits… Haunted or Not?

underwater diverSometimes, I’m more convinced by retracted “ghost stories” than those that get lots of publicity.

Here’s an example:

I was searching for fresh news reports about ghosts.  I use special software to filter out the stories that won’t interest me.  Then, I click on those that look interesting.

The following is a screenshot of one story that caught my interest.

HauntedTitanicExhibit

However, when I clicked to read the article… it had already been removed from the WOOD-TV website.

That’s not entirely weird.  After all, it looks like the story was from 2012.

On the other hand, I’m still not sure why it showed up on my feed of recent news stories. (Cue the Twilight Zone music…?)

Generally, when I see something that looks like a publicity stunt — a news reporter “locked in,” Ghost Adventures’ style — I sigh in exasperation.  Really, guys, that’s become a cliche.  Zak and his friends can do “locked in” investigations far better than amateurs.

What made this story different is that it’s the Titanic. 

Of course the artifacts from it could have eerie energy.  I’d be more surprised if this kind of exhibit wasn’t haunted.

Though this news story is old, my point is still current:

If you’re looking for creepy, haunted places to investigate, sometimes it’s better to look for reports that vanish almost as completely as the ghosts do.

Stories (and commercial sites) that shout “Look at me! Look at me!” are less likely to be the real deal.

It doesn’t take the Haunted Collector to spot a show or exhibit that could be truly haunted, and worth visiting.  In fact, if you can get to a display like this one, I recommend (discreetly) carrying an EVP recorder in your pocket, to pick up any odd messages you might hear while in the gallery or exhibit.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of a haunted Titanic exhibit, you’ll have lots of choices.  Check the Titanic Exhibitions list to find a site near you. (Personally, the Luxor would be my first choice.  That place is pretty creepy to begin with, with its massive Egyptian statues.)