Winchester Mystery House Hallowe'en Candlelight Tours: 2016 Review

Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA

Editor's Note:
Today's article was written by our Westcoaster intern.  Yes, we have one, and while he normally fetches coffee orjust takes unending criticism for his mistakes, this time, we decided to actually let him write something.  If he screws up, we're throwing him in Westcoaster dungeon.  Yes, we have one of those too.

So we all know SoCal is the King of Halloween. Haunts and mazes show up on basically every corner, and we all love it. It’s literally the best time of year. But today, we’re getting out of this smoggy valley to head north to one of my favorite places: The Winchester Mystery House.

We’ve been covering the Winchester Mystery House a bit more lately, as they’re actually doing a lot of cool things. Ever since they plucked their new GM, Walter Magnuson, from Disney, they’ve been turning the house on its head and bringing the Winchester name back around into people’s heads, and that is a great thing.

Image courtesy of Winchester Mystery House.

If you don’t have any idea of what we’re talking about, here’s the skinny: The Winchester Mystery House is a massive mansion built in San Jose by Sarah Winchester. She came out here from Connecticut to build this place after a Boston medium told her she had to construct a labyrinth to appease the spirits of those who had died at the hands of her late husband’s rifles.

So, she came here, built this place and now that it’s been a tourist destination for over 93 years, they’re breathing new life into the house. This year, their newest offering is the Hallowe’en Candlelight Tours.

Image courtesy of Winchester Mystery House.

They dabbled in Halloween events in the past, and despite its success, it never really fit the theme. It was basically anything you’d get at Knott’s Berry Farm. Which is great, but it doesn’t fit the elegance and grandeur of the house when you have chainsaws and zombies running amuck.

Which now brings us to this year: The Hallowe’en Candlelight Tours. This is old school style for Halloween. A guided tour through what’s considered one of the most haunted places in America.

Image courtesy of Winchester Mystery House.

Going through the tour, it’s tastefully done in a subtle, but effective way. A tour guide (Now known affectionately as the Caretaker) greets you in the same place you begin any daytime tour, and you’re whisked away into the darkness of the house, guided by only one candlelight.

And yes, it’s electric. They aren’t stupid enough to use real flames, so save your breath of asking such a silly question.

Image courtesy of Winchester Mystery House.

This tour guides you through the major parts of the house with added special effects, essentially telling you all the ghost stories that have happened over the years, while bringing it all together with a subtle storyline of Adam Coons’ ghost haunting the house in a bad way after Sarah had built it to keep the evil at bay.

There’s a small handful of effects that get folks to jump, but it’s not terrifying, which makes it a great starter point for kids to get into Halloween events without being scared sh*tless. Ultimately, the Winchester Mystery House has taken a elegant approach to Halloween while entertaining folks just as much as you’d get at any other haunt. Is it terrifying? No. Is it dark and macabre? Absolutely. Think of this as the Haunted Mansion if you could get out and walk through the halls of the attraction.

For their first year, they’ve done a great job. It’s a good start to what’s hopefully going to become a staple event for years to come. I’m excited to see where this Candlelight tour flickers down the halls of the years to come, as they only have room to grow and expand.


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