Winchester Mystery House General Manager Walter Magnuson hopes Saturday’s reopening of the famed San Jose landmark—and its 2,000 doors—will be the one that lasts for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
“We’re ecstatic to welcome back guests because they really want to see the house,” Magnuson said in a recent phone call with San Jose Inside. “We hope to stay open for good, it’s really in our hands. If everyone follows protocols and does the right thing, then Halloween won’t be canceled.”
In pre-pandemic times, the Mystery House attracted a stream of visitors throughout the year, but as one of the country’s most celebrated “haunted” mansions, it was in October when the storied house really came alive.
“A lot of people consider Halloween to be our Christmas,” Magnuson said.
The Mystery House—like all indoor businesses—has endured a rather bumpy ride since mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic hit its stride stateside.
Working with health officials for months, the Mystery House initially reopened for self-guided tours on July 13. One day later, the tours were suspended due to new state health guidelines, which reflected a second wave of infections spiking throughout the state.
At the end of July, the Mystery House launched a new outdoor evening experience that allowed guests to roam the expansive abode while hearing tales of its former inhabitants and exploring the estate’s supernatural lore. Magnuson said while the latter remains a popular event, people are itching to get inside the house.
The time has finally arrived—yet again.
On Saturday, the Winchester Mystery House will reopen for self-guided tours after California public health officials announced Tuesday that certain Santa Clara County businesses can resume indoor operations.
To stay in compliance with all current state and county guidelines, the Mystery House will be a completely touchless and self-guided experience, though tour hosts will be positioned throughout the estate to help on an as-needed basis.
Tour groups will be restricted to members of the same household and overall tour capacity will be reduced to meet the state guidelines for indoor museums. The tour route has been modified to focus on the largest rooms of the estate.
Tickets are available online, and include access to the estate gardens.