For anyone familiar with the Winchester Mystery House, or have had the chance to go in person, you will of course be aware of not only how beautiful and grandiose it is, but also its enigmatic and imposing personality with its already haunted feeling and history. This of course would make it the perfect setting for the addition of an extra layer of scary Halloween fun.
The evening started with being checked in, given our lanyards and being escorted to the cozy wood paneled “Carriage House” for wonderful themed Cocktails and snacks. I tried the “Grave Digger & Witches Brew” & The Veggie Samosas and Chicken Pesto sliders which were my faves.
Soon after it was time for our ThemeDream Produced UNHINGED experience. We were queued up in a group of about 10 and were given the tour rules (i.e, making it clear that this was not a regular tour and that it is a work of fiction, not the actual history of the house, no undesignated photography: which we ended up only being able to do in 1 room anyway, that was a bit disappointing, etc).
We started our adventure with some ghoulish tour guides giving us a little info on the house while waiting for the upstairs to clear up. It seemed to be taking a while so our tour guide decided to take a detour through the basement. We proceeded down the narrow stairs into the basement tunnels where things started to get weird with flickering lights, weird bangs here and there and then out of nowhere from the back of the group, our guide was dragged off into the dark.
The next moment a security guard shines a flashlight down the stairs to rush us out of the off limits basement area and hurried us along where we passed by the kitchen and an elderly woman singing and yelling out to the cook that she needs more meat . We then found ourselves walking through a refrigerator into the kitchen where we almost became the main course.
As we wove our way up and down the low rise narrow stairways and countless hallways of this haunted mansion we encountered many of the trapped spirits of the UNHINGED Winchester including a little girl with a savage doll collection, a drowned woman in a bathtub, and an angry Samara like spirit that would get closer as the lights flashed on and off.
Other spectors encountered were a bloody bride, possessed tour guest who had lost their way and were stuck in the hold of the mansion, a very elderly pair of what seemed to be caretakers ushering us away from some of the more vengeful spirits, and a wake with a chilling black clad widow who turned out to be dead herself.
We then came to an alarming scene where we were hurried by a fireman who handed & instructed us to cover our mouths & “breath deeply” through paper towels (can we say chloroform anyone?) as the mansion caught fire. We were led through the flaming rooms to the safety of another parlor where we found the man of the house committing himself to the house to join the spirits of his family, upon which a haunting reunion was made.
After being led from there we entered through a hallway ending in club music, and surprise… Slender Man (not mad at it). We then found ourselves back at the entrance where, by shocking discovery, we learned that we didn’t survive the tour and were then residents of the mansion ourselves.
After that everyone made their way back around to the VIP/ Media area for spooky desserts including Eyeball Cookies, Black Coco Cupcakes, Skeleton Cameo Shortbread Cookies, and Bleeding Heart Candied Apples . We got to see the amazing Winchester Gingerbread house by Spooky creative genius Christine McConnell, & a positively creepy projection mapping of the UNHINGED Light show on the front of the Mansion by PaintScaping whose story went along well with our recent foray inside.
Overall, it was a fun walkthrough. I don’t really want to call it a tour as we didn’t really get any info on any of the rooms or history (real or otherwise) after that. I’m not sure if it was that the group # was too big but there was a lot of waiting to get everyone into the room before the actors monologues would start. I found that the monologues were a little long and the sound effects were so loud at some points that you couldn’t really tell what was being said..
Add to that the fact that most of the in between areas we were led around were so dark that you had to be really careful about stepping up or down into different rooms and hallways. It was difficult to tell what parts of the mansion were previously unseen as it wasn’t pointed out or the focus of the vignette. This was a bit disappointing as this was something pointed out as a great feature of the attraction.
There was also a lot of in between waiting outside rooms for the scenes to reset, with staff (not in character or costume) waiving us along or holding us outside for the next scene. All of these things, unfortunately, made it hard to keep the immersion factor of the story.
Hopefully, it’s just opening week bumps that will be smoothed out and adjusted for smooth sailing during the rest of the nights from now through Nov. 2nd. My overall opinion of the experience would be that if you want an actual historic based tour to get more in depth on the rooms themselves, book the regular tour while you’re there and just be prepared to enjoy UNHINGED as one would for any pop up haunt attraction. But do make sure to watch your step, lest you do actually become a permanent resident after all. (Insert maniacal laugh here).
Well Bats & Ghouls, again it has been an honor & a privilege and I hope you all have a freakishly fabulous Halloween Season. Be sure to visit winchesterunhinged.com for tickets & more information.