With the demise of so many Los Angeles Halloween haunts this year, ghost-addicts may be looking elsewhere to get their ectoplasmic score. One option is the new Halloween Candlelight Tours at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. The venue bills itself as an authentic haunted house, its pedigree dating back at least to a newspaper interview with Harry Houdini, proclaiming that the owner, Sarah Winchester, had constructed the labyrinthine corridors (including non-functioning doors and a stairway to nowhere) as a way to confuse the restless ghosts killed by the firearms the Winchester family manufactured.
By daylight, the Winchester House is more oddity than mystery, but at night it becomes quite the habitat for apparitions - a fact that the location has exploited with flashlight tours for the past few years. Unfortunately, a large crowd of flashlight-wielding customers could dilute the darkness, muting the atmospheric effect. The new candlelight tours should preserve the atmosphere.
Important note: Though the Winchester Mystery House did present Fright Nights for Halloween 2011 and 2012, the new candlelight tour is not a Halloween-style jump-scare attraction. It is a guided tour of the premises by candlelight - expect an eerie experience, not a shocking one. (Even during Fright Nights, the real scares were on the grounds around the house, as the interior has to be carefully preserved.)
The tours started last weekend and continue on Fridays and Saturdays till the end of the month, plus Sunday, October 30 and Monday, October 31. Tickets are $49 for adults (over 13) and $35 for children (6-12). The Winchester Mystery House is located at 525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128. Get more info at: WinchesterMysteryHouse.com.
Get more details from the press release:
In a foreboding and Gothic atmosphere, guests to this all-new immersive experience are led through the labyrinth-like house via candelabra where they discover what the restless spirits have in store just for them!
Guided only by candlelight, the morbid lure of darkness and what might exist on the “other side,” guests tour the bewildering maze of rooms which are frozen in a state of arrested decay or resplendent in Victorian grandeur. Although touches of festive Halloween abound, the atmosphere is heavy with foreboding as an unseen presence seems to be watching at all times.
“This new guided tour experience promises a classic haunting, an unnerving tour that is atmospheric and frightful,” states Walter Magnuson, General Manager of Winchester Mystery House. “If you believe in ghosts or are seeking the quintessential haunted house experience for the Halloween season this is the destination for you!”
The nighttime tour of the intimidating, century old mansion will give visitors the opportunity to let their imaginations run wild. Guests will be taken to locations in the house where paranormal activity has been cited by both employees and visitors alike. Each tour group is sure to punctuate their journey through the mansion with nervous exclamations of "Did you hear that?", "What's that in the corner?", "Do you see what I see!?"
For nearly 100 years the Winchester Mystery House has stood as a testament to the ingenuity, persistence of vision and lore that surrounds its namesake, Sarah Winchester (heir to the Winchester Repeating Rifle fortune). A true pioneer who crisscrossed the United States via steam train many times during the waning days of the “wild west,” Sarah Winchester lives on in legend as a grieving widow who continuously built onto her small farm house to appease the spirits of those killed by the guns manufactured by her husband’s firearms company.
The mansion is renowned for its many architectural curiosities and paranormal activity (TIME magazine cited it among the “Top 10 Haunted Places”). From 1884-1922 construction never ceased as the original farm house grew into the world’s most unusual and sprawling mansion (24,000 square feet built at a then astronomical cost of $5.5 million), featuring: 160 rooms, 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 47 fireplaces, 40 staircases, 13 bathrooms and 9 kitchens. The estate is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a California Historic State Landmark, a San Jose City Landmark and one of the leading attractions in the Bay Area.