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“Left a lot to be desired” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House
Ranked #5 of 132 things to do in San Jose
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Visitors can tour the house and gardens once owned by wealthy widow Sarah Winchester, who kept construction going on the 160-room Victorian mansion for 38 years.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
24 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Left a lot to be desired”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 12, 2013

I was really excited to go to the Winchester Mystery House. I had been hearing about it for years. The tour was pretty bad. Our tour guide, Wayne, cracked a lot of jokes throughout the tour that only he seemed to find funny. The group was too large, it seemed like we were always waiting for people to catch up. And while there was some historical information given in the tour, honestly there was not very much. We did learn that all the furniture in the house was auctioned off after Mrs. Winchester's death, so everything all furniture is a recreation. The house sounds amazing, you see over 100 rooms on the tour, but what they cal rooms, I might call a closet. It is dubbed as mysterious, but it didn't feel that way. It felt like exactly what it is. A house built with blueprints of random construction from a crazy lady. I just felt like they could do more to make this an experience rather than just walking through tiny cramped spaces. I'm not saying don't go, but don't set your expectations too high.

Visited February 2013
1 Thank Bridget1978
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Keeps improving over the years”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 9, 2013

I'd already been to the WMH 2 times prior to my Christmas visit this year (2012). Once in the late 1950s, when it was physically dangerous to walk through, and had few working lights and broken floors to make it mysterious, once in the 1980s when our tour guide's spiel was spoken in a monotone and the house was painted but soooo dull. I reluctantly toured it this Christmas with my out of town guests (I live in San Jose area.) WHAT a difference. The house is now clean, and many of the rooms are furnished with actual antiques from local San Jose prominent families. The tours go into FAR more rooms (even without taking the basement tour) and there is access to storage rooms showing what extravagant items Sarah bought that were never yet installed. Best of the changes was our tour guide, Todd or Kevin. He actually showed interest in her history, her house, and his well informed enthusiasm sparked interest in his tour group. The Christmas trees set up in many of the living and bedrooms were also pretty as each reflected the room it was in; they and the plants made it easier to visualize how someone could live in the house. The tour was about 60-80 min. long, longer than I'd expected from my other lame visits. And it was well worth the cost. Just be sure that the family uses the restrooms past the gift store and soda diner (like a good Crackerbarrel store and where you buy your tickets and wait to go in), right next to the free Firearms Museum - which was very interesting, especially for my husband. We went so far as to buy the photo of us with the WMH backdrop as a souvenir. So as an afternoon fun excursion, it was successful. I may even return for the basement tour.

Visited December 2012
4 Thank SedonaTwo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
26 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Worth a visit but the TOUR was TERRIBLE”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 3, 2013

Whilst in California we decided to visit the Winchester House, as my partner had read up on it and it sounded bizarre to say the least. Firstly, we only allowed a couple of hours for the visit but there is more than the house to see and this could be a good day out (this is why I scored it two).

Having paid for a tour (house only; we did not do the basement) we were bitterly disppointed. Our Tour Guide Justin, started slowly and the tour was late leaving and arriving back. At the beginning of the tour we were provided with hand devices that looked like phones and told as we walked through the rooms we would be told what number to press to receive an automated narration of each room (which was not very informative). Our tour guide did nothing to elaborate on this information but merely guided the group from room to room, whilst discussing basketball with another basketball fan.

In fact I was so annoyed and frustrated, I took a detour and half the group followed me to the roof! yes - Justin lost half the group and this did contribute to the delay.

I did raise the fact with Justin that he was providing no information and that it was really a self tour which could be done without him - to which I was informed that he was only there, as guests could not be allowed in the house on there own.

Based on other reviewers leaving 4's and 5's, I am guessing its down to the particular guide - so a word of advice when booking a tour time ask who the guide is and if its Justin wait for a later tour.

Visited December 2012
1 Thank GJWTraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Secaucus, New Jersey
Level Contributor
43 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Something defnitely worth seeing”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 29, 2013

We had a really good time here. Although it is a bit pricy to get in (about $30 per person) it is an experience worth seeing if you are in the Bay Area with a car (its about 45 minutes outside of SF)

There are a lot of stairs so if you are disabled it isn't a good idea. However, if you just have trouble walking and are not wheelchair bound, the stairs are less than 2 inches in height so they are easy to tackle. The house's builder had leg problems and couldn't walk up regular stairs.

It is really interesting to see how the construction just stopped when she passed and they have done a very good job preserving the house.

My only complaint is that they do not allow photographs inside of the house.

Visited January 2013
2 Thank John F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
31 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“We caught a spirit on camera.....very cool”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 25, 2013

Very nice guide who takes you from waiting area to the end of the tour and keeps your attention while you learn the history of the house. Not many areas blocked from our access. Staff was a little skittish when asked questions about ghosts. We took a picture with a camera on a tripod and a duplicate shot showed something next to the fireplace that wasn't in the first shot. It is an amazing place to visit and explore. Window in the floor (or ceiling) dependent on your point of view was so cool. A must see.

Visited April 2012
2 Thank Barbara P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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