Alamo City Ghost Tours: An Interactive Ghost Hunting ExperienceFebruary 2, 2012 No Comments
Whether it’s the time we spent living in New Orleans or our obsession with Halloween, Dad and I just love ghost tours. Wandering deserted streets late at night as our guide spins intricate tales of long-ago tragedies, it is easy to feel like we are stepping back through time. We make it a priority to seek out ghost hunts everywhere we go. Our range of experiences includes making our way through an incredibly creepy basement in Savannah Georgia; climbing a fire escape to peek at a cage once used for female criminals in Jerome, Arizona; and traveling the streets of St. Augustine in a customized hearse. But our tour with Alamo City Ghost Tours in San Antonio, Texas, was one of the most interactive and scientific we have ever experienced.
About Alamo City Ghost Tours
The tour begins across from the Alamo, outside the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. The walk covers 13 haunted locations over a distance of approximately one mile. As of 2011, tours depart nightly at 9 pm and last approximately 2.5 hours. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for kids aged 5 to 17. Younger children are free. Wheelchairs and strollers are welcome on the tour.
Dad and I spent a long, hot summer day exploring downtown San Antonio, and were very glad for a long dinner and rest break before the tour began. We arrived at the meeting spot around 8:30 and were able to check in with our guide, J.R., who is also the company owner, at about 8:45.
Many ghost hunts focus on creepy guides and smooth storytelling methods. We were immediately struck by the more scientific presentation offered by Alamo City Ghost Tours. Once everyone was checked in, J.R. distributed EMF meters and thermal meters to everyone, and went over how to use them. He also spoke a bit about paranormal investigation and his own involvement in the field. He stressed that we might or might not capture any paranormal activity and explained some of the non-paranormal reasons for unusual EMF readings (electrical interference is particularly common).
We walked at a reasonably brisk but comfortable pace, and stops were frequent. In each location, J.R. gave us the history of the spot and encouraged us to use our ghost hunting equipment. While many ghost tours build the stories up a bit for maximum drama, J.R. stuck to the documented historical reality. This in no way detracted from the tour, however, as the real-life history of San Antonio proved suitably exciting.
Roughly midway through the tour, we stopped by the river, where J.R. brought out a dowsing rod. Used in divination since at least the early 1500s, dowsing rods are sometimes thought to be conduits to the supernatural. J.R. explained several theories on how they work, including both paranormal and more mundane possibilities. He performed a few experiments with a volunteer from the group, and then handed out several rods for us to play with. The results were mixed, which J.R. explained is common, particularly on a night as windy as that one.
After the tour, J.R. stuck around for awhile to answer questions, give directions and simply chat. The tour ends several blocks from where it began, so be sure to ask for directions to your car or hotel if you are unfamiliar with the city.
Tips for Parents
As a scientific and historic tour, Alamo City Ghost Tours is entirely appropriate for children. Although tales of murder and mayhem are, by necessity, fairly graphic, the tour does not sensationalize them. The stories are well researched and told simply and honestly. The focus is definitely on the investigative elements as everyone works together to see if any evidence of a haunting is present.
The thermal readers use lasers, similar to laser pointers, and can be damaging if pointed directly into someone’s eyes. Although guests are encouraged to use the readers liberally, there are a few ground rules, such as not pointing them at oncoming traffic or pedestrians. Make sure your kids understand and follow the rules, for everyone’s safety.
Tour group sizes are not as severely restricted by law in San Antonio as they are in other places, and groups of 50 are not uncommon. If you are in a bigger group, keep a close eye on your kids. Although the guides go out of their way to ensure everyone’s safety, you are walking dark streets at night. Try not to let smaller kids get lost in the crowd.