The real story of the terrifying Stanley Hotel that inspired "The Shining" (GHOST UPDATE!)


Though the Stanleys have passed, many believe they never actually left.

The Stanley Hotel was originally opened in 1909, by Massachusetts couple F.O. and Flora Stanley, as a secluded, grand mountain resort. Though the Stanleys have passed, many believe they never actually left. Mr. Stanley has been reported as hovering behind employees at the reception desk, and Mrs. Stanley can still be heard playing piano in the hotel's music room.

UPDATE: "Man visiting Stanley Hotel captures eerie image" via 9News:

"A Houston man who was visiting Estes Park's Stanley Hotel recently captured a ghostly image when he tried to take a panoramic photo of the stairwell and lobby. Henry Yau says he doesn't remember anyone standing in the grand stairwell when he took the photo. He didn't notice the figure seemingly standing in the middle until the next morning." - 9News

Haunted events have been recorded at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, since as far back as 1911, when Ms. Elizabeth Wilson, a housekeeper, was electrocuted during a lightening storm. Though she wasn't killed, the room where it happened, Room 217, has become a hotbed of paranormal activity.

Today the hotel is considered one of the most terrifying places in America:

Over the years, every single room in the hotel has experienced something strange, from clothes being mysteriously unpacked, to items moving on their own, and lights turning themselves on and off. The fourth floor is often filled with the spectral laughter of children giggling and running down the halls. However, the staff at the Stanley are quick to point out that "there are never any reports of sinister or evil events happening here, because there are only happy ghosts at the Stanley Hotel!" Suuuuure.

According to ABC News, prolific horror author, Stephen King, checked into the hotel in 1973, for a one-night stay with his wife, Tabitha. Fortuitously, they were the only guests at the hotel that night. So, they pretty much had the run of the place, but King wasn't convinced they were actually alone. The room he stayed in was Room 217, which is, to this day, the hotel's most-requested room.

As he wandered the hotel's empty halls, he found sources of inspiration that may sound familiar to his fans. Legend has it that he encountered some ghostly children wandering the halls and was even said to have witnessed a party in the MacGregor ballroom, attended by some otherworldly guests.

King's iconic horror novel, The Shining, was inspired by these events and the overall experience of being secluded in the grand resort hotel alone. The book delves into the tricks the mind can play on those susceptible to paranoia, fear and violence when trapped and cutoff from the real, rational and sane world. Though the film version directed by Stanley Kubrick, was actually filmed on a London sound stage, with exterior shots taken at the Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood, Oregon, the Stanley is the real hotel that inspired The Shining. King wasn't pleased with Kubrick's vision of his work, so in the 1990's he returned to the Stanley to film a miniseries that was more true to his book. Today you can watch both versions on a nonstop loop on the hotel's Channel 42.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of Kubrick's vision of what was arguably the most frightening scene in the film, and King's version:

For just $50 you can take part in a 5-hour ghost hunt at the hotel, led by a paranormal investigator who teaches you the ropes and how to use equipment to hunt down the paranormal. The Stanley actually has a resident psychic, Madame Vera and a professional paranormal investigator on staff, Callea Seck. Or if 5-hours is too much the hotel also offers a $15 90-minute ghosts-and-history tour.

Here's what you can expect from the Ghost Tour:

Every October, the hotel holds The Shining Ball, where there's a costume contest for the best dressed.

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America's Most Haunted Hotels: Part 1

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America's Most Haunted Hotels: Part 2

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Places explored in this article:

This was originally written for Roadtrippers, a great resource for anyone interested in travel.
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