A favorite stop for ghost hunters, the Winchester Mystery House opens up its doors for a special Halloween event each fall. This year, you’re invited to Unhinged: Housewarming!

Unhinged: Housewarming runs on select nights in September and October at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. This is a special haunted house event separate from the mansion’s regular tours.

What happens at Unhinged: Housewarming?

One of the exciting things about Unhinged: Housewarming at the Winchester Mystery House is that the organizers have really built up an entire event surrounding the haunt. Your ticket includes access to:

  • Pre-Haunt Opening Party: When you arrive at the Winchester Mystery House, you enter the property’s front lawn for a 1920s-themed garden party. The setup includes lawn games, photo ops, and live stage performances. You can also interact with a number of actors who get you ready for the story about to unfold during the haunt. Food, drinks, and tarot readings are also available for purchase.
  • Winchester Mystery House Haunt: After exploring the grounds and the party, you will join the queue for the haunt at a specific time. Once inside the mansion, you’ll be directed to one of two different haunt routes through the Winchester Mystery House. (General admission ticket holders will explore one haunt route; RIP ticket holders will have the opportunity to follow both routes.)
  • Beware the Mists Scare Zone: The scares don’t stop once you leave the mansion. After you exit the haunt, you’ll enter an additional scare zone behind the house. Here you’ll navigate a brief maze with additional haunted elements and scare actors, as well as a souvenir photo op.
  • Museum, Merch, & Treats: Finally, after surviving the scare zone you arrive at a smaller courtyard with additional food, drinks, and merchandise available for purchase. There are a few carnival games and photo ops. You can also explore the Winchester mansion’s Halloween Museum and official gift shop before heading home.

Inside the Haunt at the Winchester Mystery House

This was my first time attending one of the Winchester mansion’s Halloween events, and it’s easily become one of my favorites for the season! 

First, the Winchester Mystery House is just a great location to set up a haunted house. The strange, maze-like layout of the mansion and its narrow corridors easily lend themselves to an ominous, creepy atmosphere that keeps guests on their toes. Plus, the sudden dead-ends and built-in nooks and crannies give scare actors plenty of places to pop out from. 

I was also pleasantly surprised that each of the haunt routes took you through so much of the mansion; we spent easily 15-20 minutes inside on each walk through. I loved that each of the haunt routes followed a unique story and let you explore totally different parts of the Winchester house. I think I slightly preferred haunt route A (entering through the left fork at the entrance), but both were great and full of unique scares.

As a haunt, it really feels like Unhinged: Housewarming hits all the hallmarks. You have your scare actors and creepy mannequins; special light, fog, sound, and wind effects; stationary and mechanical horror props, and more. I was especially excited that several parts of the house have moving floor setpieces, reminiscent of a classic fun house. Depending on which route you take through the house, you may find yourself crossing a rickety old bridge or feeling like the floor is about to collapse out from under you as you escape a burning attic.

An impressively crafted haunt

Plus, the entire event just came across as super well-organized and thought out. The pre-event party’s theme and characters match the stories that unfold inside the haunt. Despite the fact that the Winchester house is basically a maze inside, the haunt routes overall felt clear; the rooms you weren’t supposed to go into were closed off. The scare actors were well-positioned, too. Even as someone who’s been through a lot of haunted houses, I totally missed where some actors were hiding and got some good jump scares as a result.

They even have the timing down to an art: when my group went through both haunt routes, we almost never ran into any other groups exploring the house. It makes everything creepier and more immersive when you feel like you’ve got the whole mansion to yourself!


🎃 Ready for a night of spine-tingling thrills at the Winchester Mystery House Unhinged Halloween Event! #thewinchestermysteryhouse #winchestermysteryhouse #winchestermysteryhouseunhinged

♬ Spooky, Scary Skeletons (House VIP Remix) – Crystal Knives & Lex Allen

Do the extra events outside the Mansion Haunt improve the experience?

I’ve found that events like this sometimes list “extra experiences” just as an excuse to inflate their ticket prices, without really giving anything of value to people who attend. But in the case of Unhinged: Housewarming, I genuinely enjoyed all of these bonus experiences, and felt that they added to the overall event.

The opening garden party didn’t just feel like a place to corral people waiting to get into the haunt. It was its own fun little immersive experience. Besides the food, drinks, and games, there’s a stage with live performances fitting the theme. (We saw a dance routine from a couple of flappers and a Charlie Chaplin impersonator while waiting to enter the house.) Also, there were a couple actors posing as ‘20s newspaper reporters offering snarky commentary on everything that really made me laugh.

Similarly, the scare zone offers a nice “bonus haunt” to your experience. Although the fog at times may have been a bit much (we wandered too far and had to be redirected towards the next phase), it’s a fun way to keep up the spooky atmosphere even after you exit the mansion. Finally, the courtyard gives you the space to decompress after the haunt and talk about it with others while enjoying a drink or grabbing some Winchester swag. 

You can tell that just like the house haunt itself, the supporting experiences for Unhinged: Housewarming were thoughtfully crafted. These extra pieces help the event as a whole feel more complete and immersive.

‘Unhinged: Housewarming’ Has Incredible VIP Ticket Value

I’ll be honest – I’m not someone who usually springs for VIP passes for events like this. Usually, a VIP pass just means dropping a lot more cash to wait in a slightly shorter line, and that’s not always worth it to me. That said, I absolutely recommend grabbing an “RIP” ticket for Unhinged: Housewarming!

The Winchester Mystery House haunt has one of the best value VIP ticket packages around. You get the usual perks of early event access and the shorter line, but a whole lot more as well. RIP tickets include a drink from the bar, a souvenir lanyard, and an event T-shirt. Plus, you get to go through not just one, but both of the haunt routes within the house. You literally double your haunt experience with the RIP pass! (And as I mentioned, both the haunt routes were great and worth experiencing.)

Depending on the day of the week, a general admission ticket to Unhinged: Housewarming costs $65-70. A RIP pass costs $90-100. You get a lot by upgrading, without spending much more. If you’re already planning to check out this event, you won’t regret going for the RIP experience.

NOTE: RIP ticket quantities are limited, so book yours ASAP!

Don’t miss this haunt!

This is one of the best organized and executed haunted house events I’ve ever been to, and I don’t have much to say when it comes to recommending improvements. If pressed, I’d say someone should check the balance on the fog machine in the scare zone, because that fog had a pretty strong chemical taste when breathing it in. Also, I wouldn’t say no to replacing some of the dummies inside the house with additional scare actors. 

But overall, if you love haunted houses and all things spooky and scary, Unhinged Housewarming at the Winchester Mystery House is definitely a must-attend event of the season. I was really impressed with this event, and I’m already looking forward to what the Winchester house has in store for us next year!

You can learn more about Unhinged: Housewarming and purchase tickets at winchestermysteryhouse.com.

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