Hitchhiking Ghosts

Hitchhiker ghosts are a prevalent theme in folklore in rural areas and even sometimes in cities, like outside of Chicago where the most famous ghostly hitchhiker, Resurrection Mary, is encountered.

Since the 1930s, several men driving northeast along Archer Avenue between the Willowbrook Ballroom and Resurrection Cemetery have reported picking up a young female hitchhiker. This young woman is dressed somewhat formally in a white party dress and is said to have light blond hair and blue eyes. There are other reports that she wore a thin shawl, dancing shoes, that she carried a small clutch purse, and/or that she was very quiet. When the driver nears the Resurrection Cemetery, the young woman asked to be let out, whereupon she disappeared into the cemetery. According to the Chicago Tribune, "full-time ghost hunter" Richard Crowe has collected "three dozen . . . substantiated" reports of Mary from the 1930s to the present.

The vanishing hitchhiker (the ghostly hitchhiker, the disappearing hitchhiker, the phantom hitchhiker or the hitchhiker) story is an urban legend in which people travelling by vehicle meet with or are accompanied by a hitchhiker who subsequently vanishes without explanation, often from a moving vehicle. Vanishing hitchhikers have been reported for centuries and the story is found across the world, in many variants. The popularity and endurance of the legend has helped it spread into contemporary popular culture. Public knowledge of the term expanded greatly with the 1981 publication of Jan Harold Brunvand's book The Vanishing Hitchhiker, which helped launch public awareness of urban legends.

Just beware of what you run into on the road....

Disney Hitchhiker ghosts in the haunted mansion: The Prisoner is a hairy little ghost with a ball and chain shackled to his ankle. He is previously seen standing next to the masked executioner in the graveyard, singing Grim Grinning Ghosts with a deep gravelly voice supplied by Candy Candido. As guests exit Disneyland's Mansion, Candido's creepy laughter can be heard echoing in the crypt. Although the Prisoner's original vocal track is still in use at the Disneyland and Tokyo Mansions, it was replaced with a new recording (performed by a bass singer) at the Walt Disney World Mansion in 2007. So far, no media adaptation has depicted the Prisoner as having a deep voice like in the attraction. The Prisoner's beard has alternately been brown or white throughout the years, in different incarnations (though white is the current standard). In the '70s model kit series, the Prisoner was referred to as a gnome. The Skeleton is a tall, dapper, grinning ghost. When the attraction first opened at Disneyland, he was completely bald, but has since had hair of varying lengths. Although the Skeleton figure has the same face mold as the Hatbox Ghost, they are not meant to be the same character. In Marc Davis' original concept art, the character was a stereotypical "sheet ghost" with no clothes, save for the bowler hat he lifted above his head. By the time the attraction opened, the character had evolved into the fully clothed skeletal ghost seen in the Mansion today. The Traveler is an overweight hunchback wearing a top hat and holding a carpet bag. At Walt Disney World's Mansion (since the 2011 updates), a portrait of Maude Sweeny is included in the Traveler's luggage, suggesting a possible familial relation. The Hitchhiking Ghosts are often referred to by fans as "Gus" (Prisoner), "Ezra" (Skeleton), and "Phineas" (Traveler).


  1. I love the hitchhiking ghosts at Disneyland!

  2. Is it just me or has anyone else wondered if some of these ghost stories were created to caution people about unsafe behavior?

  3. Hitchhiking ghost stories are the best ghost stories! Just imagine driving down a dark lonely road, and passing by a ghost with no face. Then, suddenly it appears in your passenger seat, and you're so frighten, that you crash instantly into a tree, leading you to your own lonely, dreadful death.....it's a ghost story, that becomes another haunting in despair. ;-)


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