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American Ghost Adventures

In the middle of Orlando’s attraction area lays a hotel that is home to not only tourists, but “friendly” ghosts as well. Orlando Family Magazine’s staff was invited to participate in an American Ghost Adventures tour in preparation for one of our favorite holidays: Halloween!

Our team opted for the Monumental Hotel tour, one of seven choices offered by American Ghost Tours. Built on International Drive in 2003, the facility may not be old, but could the land itself be haunted? Being terrified of all things ghostly, I believed the “investigative” tour would lead to nightmares for days. After all, aren’t evil spirits, scary tales, and spine-chilling noises what a ghost tour is all about? I was certain this outing would make me scream or cry ─ maybe even both!

Upon entering the Monumental Hotel on a rainy Friday night, dimly-lit candelabras guided me along the creepy, narrow hallways. As I made my way to the lobby, I assumed that the eerie atmosphere was all part of the show (forgetting that this hotel is actually open for business). Daisy Dejesus, the front desk associate, kindly welcomed me and shared, “I’ve heard people say that they’ve heard noises…things like kids laughing and doors opening and closing; but when they look around, they don’t find anyone there.” I met up with my OFM colleagues and Ting Rappa, our ghost-savvy tour guide and owner of American Ghost Adventures. Would we all become ghost believers?

“This is a family-friendly tour. There aren’t any zombies or things popping out at you. This is a fun experience that I hope will get guests to realize that all ghosts aren’t scary. However, all hotels are haunted,” declared Rappa. With over 20 years of ghost hunting experience, she said some ghosts are permanent residents, while others are on vacation. Although we can’t grab a floatie and jump in the hotel pool with Casper, Rappa explained that “the ghosts here want to relax and have fun too. So, I bring toys on my tours for the kids to see them and come out.”

Our ghost investigation began in the main conference room. Rappa armed us with ghost-hunting equipment and provided instructions on how to communicate with the other side. After receiving what appeared to be a grey remote control with green, yellow, orange, and red lights, she explained “these are EMF detectors. EMF stands for electromagnetic field detector. They detect energy and help us connect with spirits. If the light on your meter moves from one color to the other, a spirit’s energy is being sensed.”

Next, we shuffled into a dark, empty banquet hall and the lights on my EMF flickered nonstop! We learned that a young, female spirit named Veronica enjoys dancing to her favorite music on the room’s dance floor. Rappa’s ovilus, a device that captures electromagnetic frequencies and turns them into words, showed the word “closed” after she mentioned that we were leaving for the next stop.

Rappa acknowledged that she meets skeptical guests on almost every tour, including the general manager of the hotel, Joseph Rizzo. “I didn’t believe any of it at first,” Rizzo admitted. “I thought of it as a good way to bring people to the hotel but, after going on several tours with Ting, I now believe 100%. The automatic doors located in front of the lobby would open and close when there was nothing activating the sensor. I looked at the footage from the security cameras and there was nothing there, so I spoke to Ting about it. She said there were spirits of children playing with the doors and advised me to ask them to stop. When I did, they stopped and it hasn’t happened again.”

Our final stop was to a room once used by the sales and marketing team. Rappa’s ovilus showed the word “green,” and she explained how the spirits were trying to tell us that “green room” was the nickname that former employees gave this space. After telling her spirit friends not to travel home with us, Rappa ended the tour on a ghoulish note with “Boo the friendly ghost,” and a photo op to treasure the ghastly happenings. Even after leaving the building, the experience stayed with me ─ so I double-checked my car for wandering spirits before heading off!

American Ghost Adventures offers walking excursions through buildings, city streets, cemeteries, and even a haunted pub crawl. Visit for venue options, prices, and bookings.

“Ting explained many aspects about ghosts I never knew. It was exciting and a little scary at the same time.” 

~ Michelle Green, OFM finance manager

“It was a fun, unique experience for the entire family. Even the skeptics had a spooktacular time.”

~Eva Kelso, OFM publisher

“It was just like the (television) ghost hunting shows, except I was actually doing the hunting.”

~ 13-year-old Julia, former OFM cover model