Like most little kids, Gordon Free was scared of going to the dark basement alone.
He thought someone, maybe a vicious vampire or a sharp-toothed wolf man, would be hiding behind the corner.
“The anticipation is the most scary thing,” said Free, now 45. “You don’t know what you’re going to run against.”
Over the decades, the Whidbey Island software engineer has turned his childhood fear of imaginary dark forces into obsession.
He is so enthralled with the idea of haunted houses that he’s hoping to live in one – at least for a day.
Free is among one of 100 finalists in the Disney Dream Job contest. If he gets the most votes in an online contest, he’ll get to work for a day as the butler in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Disney’s Haunted Mansion,” he said. “I like the magic and illusion. It will be my dream come true if I get to see the behind the scene.”
In a 45-second video, contestants have to explain why they want to work at Disneyland and demonstrate their qualifications. The top five finalists in each category who receive the highest number of votes online will earn a trip to Disneyland.
“His dream is to build a haunted hotel … so people can come and have fun,” said his wife, Laura Free, who once joined her husband in another contest where they both wore lobster costumes.
“I want to support him for whatever he dreams about, because I know he would do the same for me,” she said.
In his clip, Free set the scene at South Whidbey Intermediate School, where be played a ghost teacher who advised newly deceased spirits how to scare people.
“(Disneyland’s) Haunted mansion is home to 999 happy haunts, but there is always room for one more,” he said about his video. “My idea is that you can be the thousandth.”
Marcia Aguero, a longtime friend of the couple, played one of the ghosts in Free’s video.
“I love the Halloween parties he puts up ever year,” she said. “I can’t think of anyone who would be more in his element to be the butler in the hunted mansion.”
Reporter Pai Chen: 425-339-3432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gordon Free’s video can be found at www.youtube.com by searching for “Happy Haunt Wannabes.” The voting will end Friday.