Ghost of Dreamworld Theme Park in Australia
Theme parks have always been strange places to me. So many people gather in them for a good time, going on rides, laughing, and spending the day with friends and family, but there's another side to theme parks, one that the casual visitor doesn't see: the sheer amount of time, money, and effort everyone involved in running the park puts in to ensure visitors can, if only for the day, forget about life's worries like that fight in the car on the way there, having to work the next day, that looming deadline for school, or the ghost girl watching you from around the corner by the shaved ice stand at the exit of the roller coaster you just rode.
History of Dreamworld Theme Park
Dreamworld got its start way, way back when amusement parks around the world were booming. It's almost as old as Disney World in Florida. Yes, I'm talking about that ancient time called the 1970s. Time flies, right? Actually - Disneyland in California opened in the 1950s, and the world's oldest known amusement park, Bakken or Dyrehavsbakken, opened in 1583 in Denmark.
In the late 1960s, an entrepreneur named John Longhurst took his kids to a zoo in Sydney and, as all entrepreneurs are prone to doing, decided he could do a better job, so sometime later, he purchased a plot of 210 acres (85 hectares) of land in Coomera by the Pacific Motorway. Longhurst wasn't just a "throw money at it" kind of entrepreneur either; he spent about twelve hours a day for two years straight working with excavation equipment to build his dream: Dreamworld.
In 1981, after years of development, Dreamworld officially opened to the public. It was a hit, welcoming over a quarter of a million guests within the first few months.
Ghost of Dreamworld Studios
Over a decade of seasons of the reality TV show "Big Brother" was filmed at Dreamworld Studios. During the filming, the crew had spooky encounters with the ghost of a little girl that seemingly no one before Big Brother had ever seen. The official website for the show used to have an article up about this ghost, but it's since been taken down.
The ghost girl was described as a "little girl" that "couldn't have been older than seven" and wearing a white dress. No one seems to know where she came from, and theories range from a highway accident nearby to a grave from an old farmhouse where the Big Brother house was built. Oddly, with all the cameras around during the filming, no video evidence has emerged of the sightings of the ghost or the supernatural fog that sometimes appeared in her favorite haunting spots in the house, although no one really filmed the camera crew or the locations they worked, and camera operators were banned from bringing in phones or personal cameras.
When we think of ghosts, most of the stories are from old houses or buildings, and sometimes old roads, but this haunting is quite unusual in that the place the ghost haunted was explicitly built for the show, and there were no reported deaths (especially of young girls) during the house's construction. Supposedly, every single member of the film crew heard and saw the ghost throughout the production.
There are rumors that theme park employees have been seeing a ghost they call "Jack Darke" for years. According to the stories, Jack Darke was a gold prospector from the 1800s that was killed by a buzzsaw, leaving his ghost to wander around the area where he was killed - by a ride called BuzzSaw that opened in 2011. The BuzzSaw ride closed in 2021. If anyone reading has had a personal encounter with Jack Darke, please reach out, as I'd love more information on it from someone who has seen this ghost.
Urban Legend? Marketing Ploy? Real History?
Just over half a mile away (about 1 kilometer) from the Big Brother house is a Coomera Cemetery, created in the late 1800s. Coomera Cemetery is reportedly haunted by several ghosts, and at least a handful of people believe that the haunting of the Big Brother house may have been a curious ghost wandering over from the cemetery to watch the show unfold in person. One member of an unofficial Big Brother message forum dug up plenty of information on girls who died of accidents and were buried in Coomera Cemetery. Still, no one really knows. Unfortunately, the chance to investigate further may have already passed because the Big Brother house no longer exists.
Big Brother House Destroyed
In June 2019, six children went to the Big Brother house in Dreamworld Studios and burned the place to the ground. All the children were caught at a nearby train station, arrested, and taken in for questioning. Four were charged with arson. It was the second time the heavily vandalized house was set on fire in 2019.
How many ghosts were at the last theme park you visited? You may think zero - but how would you know? Especially if there was a ghost among a crowd of living humans? Were there ghosts the last time you were at a theme park or carnival? So many people pass through every day - you being one of them - that you'd have no clue you had a close encounter of the ghost kind. A theme park would make a great place to hang out after death. Where else can you have free roller coaster rides, unlimited junk food you can snatch on a whim, no one trying to ouija call you without texting first, and no pesky ghosthunters showing up at your house to whisper at each other and run away when you're just up making an incorporeal pot of coffee?
Relevant & Related
- Learn more about Dyrehavsbakken (also known as Bakken in Denmark) with Entertainment Examined: The First Amusement Park in the World.
- Redtrinity 777 on YouTube has a series of VHS home videos filmed in 1996 that was converted to digital format and uploaded to take us all on a fascinating tour of Dreamworld several decades ago in a Family trip to Dreamworld Gold Coast, May 1996 (home video). If you watch nothing else in the series, take a look at the strange animatronic animals in the second video (Koala Country Show).
- Sometime before the Big Brother house was burned to the ground, Australian urban explorer @MuiTube went into the house and uploaded a 15-minute video tour titled Abandoned - BIG BROTHER AUSTRALIA HOUSE LEFT TO ROT -
- 9 NEWS Australia when the Big Brother house was burned
- What happened after the burning? Four children aged between 11 and 15 years old were charged with arson for the fire that destroyed the Big Brother house.
- And then there's some drone footage of the house after the fire.
- On the 25th of October in 2016, Dreamworld had four horrific deaths on one of their rides: The Dreamworld River Rapids Disaster | A Short Documentary.
- Curious about other hauntings in Australia? You'll want to check out my write-ups on the Princess Theatre in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and the Monte Cristo Homestead in Junee, New South Wales, Australia.
- I made a visual flash fiction piece a while back: Destiny/fate.
Originally published in my weekly newsletter Into Horror History —every week I explore the history and lore of horror, from influential creators to obscure events. Cryptids, ghosts, folklore, books, music, movies, strange phenomena, urban legends, psychology, and creepy mysteries.
About the Creator
J.A. Hernandez enjoys horror, playing with cats, and hiding indoors away from the sun. Also, books. So many books—you wouldn't believe.
He runs a weekly newsletter called Into Horror History and writes fiction.
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