Zak Bagans' Paranormal Year In Review 2020
Zak Bagans has had a busy year despite the pandemic. He brought fans a quarantine investigation during lockdown and added more fascinating items to his collection.
Zak is the host, lead investigator and an executive producer of the Travel Channel's long-running ghost hunting series, 'Ghost Adventures', which airs on the Really channel here in the UK. For more than a decade, Zak and his team have travelled across the United States and around the world to locations rumoured to be haunted in search of evidence proving the existence of the supernatural.
Even though at one point this year, a third of the world's population were locked down at home, Zak hasn't stopped producing content for fans and continuing his research of all things paranormal. So, let's take a look back at Zak's spooktacular year.
Zak Speaks To Fans During Lockdown
Early in 2020 many countries went in to lockdown, including the USA in March. Soon after Zak posted a message online reassuring fans of the paranormal that we can all get through the COVID-19 lockdown together, and encouraged people to make others laugh in these difficult times.
He also spoke about how he was doing his bit to beat the "evil entity" that is coronavirus and thanked frontline medical workers for their efforts.
Speaking about the worldwide virus crisis from his home, Zak told fans, "typically when I hear the word 'lockdown' I'm preparing to get locked in some building facing some bad, evil spirits."
He added, "I am on lockdown, I am in my house, I've been avoiding everybody, doing social distancing, and I'm doing my part to beat another different evil entity, which is the coronavirus." At a time when it's easy to feel alone and isolated, Zak told fans, "think of this as if we're all doing a lockdown together, and we're all fighting this together."
'Ghost Adventures: Quarantine'
'Ghost Adventures: Quarantine' aired early this year having been filmed over 12 days from the end of March while self-isolating at Zak's own Haunted Museum with fellow investigators Aaron Goodwin, Jay Wasley and Billy Tolley.
Like just about everything else, the museum was temporarily shut to visitors. With no visitors to the museum in weeks, the GAC are the first people in weeks to return to the collection of haunted exhibits. In fact, not even the team's normal production team were allowed inside, leaving the cast responsible for shooting the entire mini-series themselves.
In the first of four hour-long episodes, Zak said "just before it shut down there was a flurry of activity affecting guests and staff. And right now with all this fear going across the world, all this panic and anxiety from everybody, the air is thick, it's heavy and I wonder what this is going to do to affect the spirits at the Haunted Museum."
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The highlight of the mini-series came in the final episode when fans finally got to see the long-awaited opening of Zak's antique dybbuk box, which has been described as "the most haunted object in the world."
The dybbuk box originally belonged to a woman who made it and allegedly sealed a dybbuk inside after World War II. In Jewish folklore, dybbuk is a restless, usually malicious, spirit believed to be able to haunt and even possess the living.
Zak tentatively opened the cursed box, a moment that he described as "profound", although perhaps a little anticlimactic. Zak simply swung the two doors open with no obvious consequence initially. Zak seemed to feel the same way to start with.
He said, "when I open the doors I'm expecting something to attack me right away." He likens his expectations to the famous face melting scene in the movie 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', but he says "instead I'm feeling a strong psychological shift. Something is putting images and thoughts in my head that aren't my own."
Zak Bought Joe Exotic's Personal Possessions
As the global pandemic had people around the world locked down at home, many turned to Netflix and binge watched the true crime series about rival zookeepers Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, making both worldwide phenomenons.
The Netflix series touched on speculation of murder and even floated the idea that victims might have been fed to the exotic animals kept at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma, something its owner at the time Joe Exotic denies. The zoo is also the site of a suicide. The disturbing moment Joe's late husband, Travis Maldonado, shot himself featured in the documentary.
So, it's no wonder that Zak was attracted to this infamous location, but it's perhaps a little surprising that Zak came away from the zoo with Joe's penis pump. The gadget was just one item in haul that Zak bought of the former zookeeper's prized possessions, many of which were seen on 'Tiger King'.
The collection also includes the original "Exotic Animal Park" sign, a section of a wall mural that is said to be marked with a bullet hole from Travis's suicide, and a glass pipe that formerly belonged to Travis. Zak also took possession of Joe's jewelled crown, a pill bottles, items of clothing, and trinkets from his many weddings.
Zak Acquired Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy's Possessions
In September we learnt that Zak had added a new macabre item to his haunted collection, the prison artwork of mass killer, John Wayne Gacy, who murdered 33 young men and boys.
Zak tweeted about his latest grim acquisition. He wrote, "acquired some disturbing personal items directly from John Gacy’s family. They will all be locked-up BEHIND JAIL BARS in the true-crime exhibit @hauntedmuseum."
Gacy's lingering paranormal energy was the subject of last's year's 'Ghost Adventures: Serial Killer Spirits', a spin-off of Zak's long-running ghost hunting show.
In one of the four episodes Zak and his team searched for evidence of the spirit of Gacy at the facility where he was detained in Illinois and Zak got to hold an actual piece of the mass murderer's brain.
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'Ghost Adventures: Horror At Joe Exotic Zoo'
In October we found out why Zak had been at Joe Exotic's Greater Wynnewood Animal Park. The ill-fated attraction became the focus of the team's two-hour Halloween special.
For years, the park staff have claimed the zoo is haunted. The team examined claims of sinister activity and tortured spirits believed to lurk in the shadows of a park tainted by tragic events like deadly fires and accidental shootings.
The Halloween special aired in the US on the Travel Channel just before Halloween, but is now also available to watch on demand here in the UK on the newly launched of Discovery+ streaming platform.
Zak Hit One Million Followers On Twitter
Zak reached the dizzying heights of one million followers on Twitter this year, maintaining his lead as the most followed star from the paranormal world. The television ghost hunter has been steadily growing his follower count since he joined the social media platform in August 2009.
Unsurprisingly, Zak's final push over the impressive one million mark occurred around Halloween, around the week that the show's Halloween special aired.
Zak is the first paranormal star to pass the one million milestone on Twitter, achieving the accolade with more than double the followers of most investigators from his and other ghost hunting television shows. The next most followed from 'Ghost Adventures' is Aaron Goodwin who's racked up 647.9K followers.
'Ghost Adventures' Wins Gold In The Paranormal Entertainment Awards
Zak Bagans and the 'Ghost Adventures' crew were awarded gold in the Best Ghost Hunting Series on television category at the 2020 Paranormal Entertainment Awards. The win was announced during an online virtual event hosted by Kevin Hughes that was watched by thousands of fans of supernatural entertainment and ghost hunting.
The winners were selected by the public who voted more than 75,000 times on a shortlist made up of paranormal entertainment that was nominated by the public earlier in the year.
The silver award went to 'Destination Fear', a relatively new series that follows Dakota Laden's travels across America in an RV with his sister Chelsea Laden, and best friend Tanner Wiseman visiting some of the most locations across the country.
Zak Bought One Of The Original 'Child's Play' Doll Props
In December Zak added a new eerie item to his haunted collection, one of the original Chucky doll props from the classic horror, 'Child's Play'. According to TMZ, Zak forked out a massive $11k for the doll, which appeared in the first film in the movie franchise back in 1988.
Chucky is for many the stuff of nightmares, but for Zak the prop is a perfect fit for his collection of supernatural memorabilia, which already includes other famous movie props - the original ghost trap from the 'Ghostbusters' and the sinister clown doll from the first 'Poltergeist' movie.
The Chucky Zak purchased at an auction is a carrying prop and was used before the doll's transformation into a possessed psychopath, after the consciousness of a fictional serial killer is transferred to the doll in voodoo ritual.
Here's To 2021...
Photo: © Jim Winstead
2020 has been a busy year for Zak and the gang, but there's no rest for the wicked. The new year kicks off as Zak leads the first paranormal investigation of the infamous Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, a paranormal hotspot that has long been on Zak's bucket list.
The US Travel Channel, home of paranormal television shows like 'Destination Fear', 'Portals To Hell' and of course 'Ghost Adventures' has announced that they'll be launching their new streaming service, Discovery+, in America on January 4.
The premiere of 'Ghost Adventures: Cecil Hotel' will mark the launch Discovery+ and the episode will be available to watch exclusively through the new streaming service.
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