Pity the Orlando goth, forced to exist in the heat and sunlight? No way. Living in Central Florida means ready access to a dark local and state history (try looking up Aaron Jernigan, Edgar Watson or Ponce de Leon if you want some shock value). That noir-worthy underpinning makes the more tedious aspects (ahem, I-4 and I-Drive) of the tourist trade the state is known for a little less insufferable. Here are four phantasmal options for exploring the area:
Moonlight Walking Tours
Greenwood Cemetery, cityoforlando.net/greenwood
Greenwood Cemetery, 120 acres scattered with century-old oaks and hanging tillandsia at the center of downtown Orlando, was established in the late 19th century – not long after the incorporation of the City Beautiful. The first official resting ground for Orlando folk, home to settlers and the Civil War dead, offers free monthly Moonlight Walking Tours hosted by cemetery sexton Don Price. Approximately four miles in duration with stops at about 100 gravesites, the tour is delivered with a different script each time, full of opportunities to learn about Orlando's eldritch past. The site is also where the controversial Confederate "Johnny Reb" statue was relocated and restored from Lake Eola in late 2017. The cemetery harbors 49 donated tabebuia trees planted in honor of the victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub mass shooting. Registration begins the second week of every month at 9 a.m. and spots fill up fast; register early for a tour later in the month.
Mortem Manor Haunted Attraction
5770 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, mortemmanor.com
Located in the surreal Old Town attraction in Kissimmee, Mortem Manor claims to offer the only year-round haunted attraction in the area. The attraction centers around two grim prospects for visitors more disposed towards the macabre: a two-story haunted house with live actors and special effects, and the "Last Ride Burial Simulator," a solitary simulation of death that's advertised as an all-inclusive burial package including synthetic olfactory sensations of decomposing flora and fauna.
Skeletons: Museum of Osteology
8441 International Drive, skeletonmuseum.com
Not far from Mortem Manor, the Museum of Osteology is located on I-Drive near the Icon Orlando observation wheel. The museum offers patrons a view of 500 real skeletons as well as programs like Skeletons After Dark, a series of adult-themed evening events like a night dedicated to the forensics of the human framework or one for artists and photographers to practice their crafts among the archived bones.
Explore your hidden divination skills by going on a trip to the mystical town of Cassadaga, also known as the "Psychic Capital of the World," founded by spiritualist George P. Colby in 1894. Sit in the stone Devil's Chair at Lake Helen Cemetery; buy crystals, herbs, smudges and charms at the Cassadaga Psychic Shop; consult mediums for aura readings, tarot reading or energy healing . After your reading, head to the haunted lodge-style Cassadaga Hotel for drinks, elegant decor and more mediums on call.