Winchester Mystery House's
525 South Winchester Blvd., San Jose
Reviewed 09/26/12 by Specter
You may recall that last year was the Winchester Mystery House's first year offering Fright Nights and they did an impressively good job of scaring the public. So we were excited when they announced not only that they would be returning for another season, but invited us back for a special first look at this year's haunt.
I'm happy to report there will be no sequel slump this year for the Curse of Sarah Winchester Maze. In fact, this year might be described as the year of more. More actors, more detail, more startles, and more scares. Some elements you'll remember fondly from the previous year and other deliciously evil props, scenes, and effects have been added to delight your senses.
All of the actors have been prepared well for their roles and it shows, but in every performance there are standouts and for me, on this visit, I have to say the "Crow Kings" stood out for their ultra-cool costumes and their looming evilness, which make them really impressive despite their somewhat limited vocabulary.
The biggest scares for me came in the bloody "Voodoo Room" where we were assaulted by many large and imposing creatures bent on torture and mayhem. "Sicken Swine" got me good twice before I was able to make my way out of his bloody lair.
I have to give credit to a rather imposing and unnamed maniac in the pump house who violated me in a most intimate manner. I don't think I'll soon forget his hot breath on my cheek and the growl he uttered to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Bravo, sir.
The scares were not limited to those three locations. Every vignette was well represented with actors, but not every scare or startle is of the terror variety. There are a couple that made me smile, if not laugh out loud. Not to give too much away, but be sure to take your time in the swamp for a well-earned moment of levity.
Other scenes are less in your face and help give you time to relax your guard. There is a particularly magical snow scene outside the carriage house with snow machines chilling the air and casting flakes lazily over a pumpkin patch where a wonderful pumpkin headed scarecrow keeps watch. It's well worth slowing your pace to soak it all in. It's easy to miss if the trick or treaters are after you but you should also dwell a moment for Sarah's séance.
In addition to the Curse of Sarah Winchester Maze, both general and VIP admission allow you to take the Walk With The Spirits flashlight tour of the mansion. This year they have a special treat for visitors, you get to be on your own without a tour guide! See the mansion at night at your pace with your souvenir flashlight. If you look hard, you just might discover a couple of the mansion's resident ghosts.
Food and drink are available at the mansion's snack shop with many picnic tables at which you can relax, and there are lots of trinkets and Winchester memorabilia available in their gift shop.
Winchester Mystery House's Fright Nights officially opens this Friday (September 28, 2012) and if you would like to go I would recommend visiting early in the season as this is sure to be a popular event.
Be sure to take a look at our Events Calendar or our map of pumpkin patches and haunted houses to find all the other great events going on in the Bay Area.
Do you think we got this review totally wrong? Agree with us? Or just want everyone to know your thoughts? Then start a discussion in our forums!
||Sept. 28-30, Oct. 5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 25-31, Nov. 2-3, 2012, see hours on website below
||525 So. Winchester Blvd., San Jose