The Winchester Mystery House is something I’ve always wanted to go to as the name has popped up many times throughout my life. From the first time my grandparents told me about their trip to all the ghost-hunting and paranormal experiences I’ve seen on TV or read about, it would be an understatement to say I was excited to be experiencing The Winchester Mystery House Candlelit Tour. My fiance and I arrived promptly at 5:20pm as we had been instructed to arrive an hour early for check-in since our tour would be departing at 6:30pm; however, it didn’t go down that way.
We approached the ticket desk and inquired about our will-call tickets that would be under mine and my fiance’s name. I explained that we were with Nightmarish Conjurings and the gentleman quickly brushed off the remark and said “No, no, it’ll be under your names.” After flipping through the will call list about 4 or 5 times he had to ask me my name once more. He then finds a “Ryan March” and says “Oh here you are Ryan” before proceeding to add my fiances name to the list which I appreciated. The gentleman then explained that he had to go talk to another staff member about our ticket times. After waiting at the counter for about 10 minutes he returns and explains that they couldn’t locate our tickets and that we would have to return for the 7:55pm tour. Honestly, I didn’t mind because I would have rather walked the house a bit later at night. With two and a half hours to kill we took in some of the local hotspots aka the mall down the street.
After returning back to the Winchester House grounds we decided to wander the Winchester Firearm Museum which was fantastic. Guns, guns and more guns! You Second Amendment upholders would be ecstatic! After browsing the firearm museum for about 10 minutes, we decided to wait in the courtyard for our tour to begin. The courtyard had a decent amount of small trees with string lights around them which made for nice decor. After waiting for another 10 minutes, and taking in the atmosphere of the courtyard, we lined up at the entrance and got ready for our departure. As we waited to leave, I noticed that the tour groups seemed rather large, which I wasn’t happy about, but I chalked it up to large groups booking together. At this point, they had us take a photo where we held a small plastic candelabra in front of a backdrop, which you could purchase at the end of the tour for $35. Afterwards, our large group piled into the departure room to greet our guide.
There are rules to follow on the tour, and for something like this I really wanted to preserve the history and spookiness, so I strictly abided by these rules. As we follow our guide into the next room, I can hear what sounds like another group closing in behind us. I was really pissed to learn that they were adding more people to our group. For something that I thought would be a more personal experience became a large tour of 20+ people. The Winchester House has narrow passageway and areas so cramming that many people onto a tour kind of screws things up a bit, also it eliminated any surface fears. Regardless of the amount of people, I was trying my hardest to tune out the other tourists and focus on the guide as well as everything I noticed about the house. One thing I enjoyed in particular was the fact that no matter what part of the house we were in, the floor boards creaked. This was so natural considering the house is over 130 years old and there was also that great “old house” smell. Throughout the home they had “spooky” sounds and noises playing which added a great ambiance to the experience. For those not familiar with the history of The Winchester House, it was built to accommodate Sarah Winchester. She suffered from arthritis so there were low rise stairs that zig zagged back and forth and strange stairwells that appeared to be built for a smaller individual. There was a great deal of Sarah’s beautiful glass work throughout the house too which was definitely fascinating. Also throughout the house they had Jack-O-Lanterns EVERYWHERE and I seriously mean everywhere the tour took us. It added that family-friendly Disneyland sort of vibe but I honestly LOVED that aspect of the decor. Considering we were in a large group, not everyone was as respectful as most of us. People were talking over the guide which caused her to trip up on her words and have to repeat things she already said. It made me feel like she was just trying to rush us through the tour because we had some incredibly inconsiderate people in our group. Not only did some of those individuals talk through the entire tour, but they also did the one thing that absolutely pissed me off, they turned the flashlights on from their cellphones and shined it on literally everything which completely destroyed the entire ambiance of the house itself and ruined the tour for those whom were actually following the rules and paying our respect for the house. Those people also thought it would be a good idea to try and wander into restricted areas shining their light around everything and making attempts to open things that are off limits for a reason.
Aside from my beef with the people in our group and some of the issues that transpired because of that, I really enjoyed the house. The house is absolutely breathtaking and it has been a long time since I have been in a building THAT old. There was also a few surprises throughout the house that were intended to scare you. One was successful but it was a bit of a cheap jump scare, but hey, what else could they really do aside from hiring “scare actors”. The climax to the tour was theatrical and DID have an actor whom played their role very well in my opinion. I think the eeriest thing for me was walking pass those completely black rooms that were roped off. It’s like a room full of blackness but considering the houses history, you know that the room isn’t ACTUALLY empty. That was an image that really stuck with me throughout the tour. Another area that I really liked was the seance room because I noticed a decent change in the temperature as we walked into the room but I chalked it up to an A/C unit quietly blowing colder air into the room. Don’t get me wrong, I am a believer in the “unseen” or “supernatural” but it just seemed too convenient to me that the seance room was the coldest room in the house. Along the tour there was a guide lurking in the shadows to redirect wandering tourists and occasionally he would startle me and give me the creeps as he would lean against things and slowly and quietly walk behind us.
Lastly, I think one of my favorite things about the house was the garden in the front of it. The grass was still well kept and there were some very beautiful statues placed throughout the yard. You also had a sense of clarity and relaxation while wandering through the garden and the other pathways throughout the grounds. The last stop we made was a tool shed with old yard tools which also had some Jack-O-Lanterns placed perfectly.
All in all, regardless of some of the issues I had, I know I will definitely be going back to the house to tour it during the day at my leisure. The house is absolutely amazing and I have never experienced anything like it before. Living in Sacramento, I have a lot of opportunities to see things that date back 100’s of years while also soaking up the Sacramento history. However, nothing in Sacramento was comparable to the Winchester Mystery House. The house is so well preserved, and like I mentioned before, the smell was perfectly preserved too. I would recommend taking this tour but reserving for a smaller group because a large group of around 20 people is just too overwhelming and honestly spoiled it a bit for me. This is a great family friendly tour and if you live in Northern California I would suggest taking a trip to San Jose and feel free to bring the kids and grandma.