If you haven’t noticed yet, the Winchester Mystery House has gone through a series of changes in the past few years. It’s been the centerpiece of a Hollywood film starring Helen Mirren, it has opened up 40 new rooms to visitors, and it has added new attractions.
One of those attractions is the Halloween candlelight tours. This is the third year the Winchester Mystery House is offering nighttime tours and this year will be the biggest and longest tour to date. The candlelight tours started on Sept. 14 and will continue running until Halloween.
“It’s a terror of the mind,” said Jake Williams, Winchester Mystery House Marketing Specialist. “It’s not intense, it’s not terrifying, but it will give you a good jump.”
Williams promises a mid-range PG-13 scare; good for older kids, but not the younger ones.
This year’s theme is portals to another dimension. Every night 13 doors appear in the Winchester House and each one has spiritual and mystical powers that open them up to the other side. During the tour, you could find yourself standing in front of the “Death Door” or maybe staring at the “Spectre Door” which seems to stare back at you if you look at it long enough.
This year’s story is different from the past two years, but it still weaves in a little bit of fiction in with the real-life history of Sarah Winchester. It took a team of more than 150 people several months to make this year’s vision come to life.
Williams says the high demand for a Halloween scare is what’s really driving the Winchester Mystery House’s investment into the holiday.
“It’s becoming a tradition,” said Williams. “[This] is the first year we’re expanding outside of the house.”
Visitors who show up early can have their fortunes read in a giant crystal ball. They can tour the Winchester Museum, or they can also walk down a mystic midway that will be set up on the Winchester grounds.
It’s all part of management’s efforts to improve the guest experience. A small shooting gallery was added to the grounds earlier this year and the ticket office recently switched over to an online ticketing system.
The house itself is also undergoing various renovation projects. The stables were recently refurbished and repaired using the same techniques that were used back when the house was first built.
The Halloween candlelight tours will run on select nights through Halloween. The last tour will take place at 11:50 p.m. on Halloween night, though that one is already sold out.
To buy tickets, visit www.winchestermysteryhouse.com.