Executive producer and star of Ghost Adventures, the long-running paranormal reality series on Travel Channel, Bagans leads his team of investigators on an exploration of a location he calls “spectacularly frightening” in Ghost Adventures: Cecil Hotel, a two-hour special streaming exclusively on the new Discovery+ service.
For fans of the ghost-TV genre, Ghost Adventures: Cecil Hotel boasts evidence of scratches, disembodied voices, light anomalies, a faucet seemingly turned on by an invisible force, and more. But regardless of one’s personal beliefs about the unexplained, the special lives up to its hype of a “first time ever” examination of the infamous hotel.
Bagans tells Den of Geek the special is also a culmination of a decade-long pursuit that began “before Elisa even died.”
The “Elisa” that Bagans refers to is Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old Canadian student with a kind, sarcastic sense of humor who loved fashion and Harry Potter; she frequently blogged observations about guys she liked, figuring out a place in the world, as well as her own insecurities and mental health struggles. Lam was a daughter and sister, and a real person on a journey of self-discovery before her life ended too soon, and she made the Cecil internet famous.
While on a solo trip to California in 2013, she went missing and died while staying at the hotel. An elevator surveillance video showed the young woman acting erratically as she pushed buttons, paced in and out of the elevator, and even appeared to be hiding from someone. Her body was discovered in a rooftop water tank weeks after she disappeared. Despite her death being ruled accidental, with her bipolar disorder deemed a contributing factor, questions remained as to how Lam could have gained access to the roof or closed the lid to the tank from within.
But before that two-and-half minute viral video made Lam a popular topic for podcasts — and before American Horror Story: Hotel drew inspiration from the landmark’s past — the Cecil’s reputation was more tied to tragedy than travel despite its beginnings in 1924 as an LA destination, complete with a grandiose lobby.