Things that go bump in the night fascinate lovers of the Halloween season. As with any building that sees the moonlight of a few centuries, some Hillsborough County landmarks have their own lively histories. In this virtual ghost tour, you can find some of the happening haunted places near you.
- Tampa Theatre - Downtown Tampa
For 91 years, movie-goers have enjoyed cinematic wonders at the classic Tampa Theatre on Franklin Street. Each year around Halloween, the theatre puts on a horror film series to add some extra 'boo' to your haunt season. The frights do not stop after All Hallows' Eve though. According to locals, Tampa Theatre is haunted by a number of spirits still lingering around the venue. From 'the balcony to backstage', they offer late-night ghost tours to catch a glimpse of Fink Finley, the 'Lady in White', and more.
- Don Vicente Inn - Ybor City
This historic hotel sits just beyond Centro Ybor in a rather quiet piece of the entertainment district. Its rich history dates back to 1895 when it was built by the Ybor City founder for which it is named. The structure served as the El Bien Publico, a health care facility, until 1980, when it was left abandoned for 18 years. Guests are said to have experienced creaky footsteps, lights that flicker, and more phantom anomalies. Others have reported ghostly guests, nurses, and a mad doctor in the building's basement. Are you ready to check in?
- Crown Colony House - Busch Gardens
This restaurant located at the local theme park looms over Cheetah Hunt. Past employees, as well as diners, have experienced the paranormal playing around the clock. From trays flipped by 'Wendy' to a stuffy cigar-smoke smell, the giddy ghosts try to make their presence known. Researchers with Haunted South, a paranormal research company, collected evidence of their experiences while performing an investigation. While results from the trip are unknown, some park-goers believe they have experienced something supernatural.
- Plant Hall - University of Tampa
Most locals know that the university's Plant Hall used to serve as a 500 room hotel from 1891 to 1933. Teddy Roosevelt and Babe Ruth are among the most famous of guests who enjoyed the splendor of this luxury winter resort. Since its transformation into a place of education, some of the past guests have refused to check out. A couple is often seen waltzing in the former ballroom, while the sounds of servants and gamblers ring in the halls. Do you think the professor will take the excuse that a phantom ate your homework?
- James McCabe Theater - Valrico
In 1915, local residents opened the Valrico Civic Center. After a long history of opening and closing its doors as various facilities, The Village Players, a community theater group, were able to claim the structure as their performance venue. According to the Plant City Paranormal Research team, there is evidence collected of a male spirit who can respond to questions. The humming of a tricky little girl and other phenomena have been reported as well. The stage is commonly filled with the spotlight shining upon local theater members, but is it time for the ghosts to take center stage?
Most skeptics can write off the paranormal experiences as fake and fiction. Others believe all of these locations have special roots in the supernatural. Either way, these twisted tales have added to the amazing history around Hillsborough County.