Combining Halloween with a game of Clue, this year’s entirely new edition of Jay Ghoul’s House of Curiosities at Lyndhurst Castle (named for the original occupant, Jay Gould) features a walk-through murder mystery with character encounters throughout the Gothic mansion.
We recently attended a preview and have the skinny on what to expect. Read on for the low-down!
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While the event isn't scary, there is some wicked humor.
Phil Noir (get it?) has been murdered, and it’s up to you to identify his killer. Was it the butler in the vestibule with the corkscrew, Madam Peacock in the parlor with the knife, or perhaps Mr. Mustard in the kitchen with his killer cuisine? There are five dodgy suspects, and it takes Professor Plum in the basement to help crack the case. Visitors travel from room to room to hear each account for why we should believe he or she is innocent. The first floor and basement are utilized, but don’t mistake this event for a mansion tour; it’s a performance set in a historical mansion.
The event isn’t scary, but there’s slightly dark humor. It’s a murder mystery after all, and there are also some light-hearted references to severed fingers in the kitchen, a flask and the unveiling of a “corpse.” It’s meant to be comedic (with references to “hate cuisine,” instead of “haute cuisine,” for instance, and, “A spoonful of sugar helps the poison go down,” in a macabre twist on Mary Poppins). Nothing is graphic or disturbing, so even my 10-year-old wasn’t spooked.
Billed as an interactive event, we must admit we'd hoped for better use of that feature. At the start, the group was told that we’re “DITs”—Detectives in Training. But our role was admittedly minimal. The actors addressed the audience as they stated their case, but the interactivity came in the form of, for instance, Ms. Scarlett asking two other guests and me, “Have you ever been wrongly accused?” while Chef Mustard asked the crowd to guess what country he’s from. At the end of the event, we were asked to identify the guilty party by a show of hands.
The Halloween decorations are really extraordinary!
Though the mansion was dark and we had limited opportunity to look around, what we saw of the autumnal decorations spiked a craving for a daytime visit to see the Lyndhurst Tours with a Halloween Twist. More than the occasional pumpkin, the seasonal décor was impressive, starting with two ceiling-high Christmas-type trees festooned with sunflowers and other fall flair. To call these displays a “Halloween twist” is an understatement.
The website says the event lasts 30-45 minutes, and ours was no more than 35. The kids were grateful that it wasn’t overly long (their chief criticism about events and tours), but the brevity makes the ticket price a bit hard to swallow: $25 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and under. We suggest embellishing your visit by viewing the annual Scarecrow Invasion exhibit on the lawn.
Allow some time to check out Scarecrow Invasion. Photo taken by the author.
What to Know Before You Go
- This is best suited for tweens and up, but drop-offs of teens is not allowed. Those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Online tickets must be purchased by 8am on the date of the performance you plan to attend. Plan ahead as shows sell out.
- After exiting the mansion, our walk along the driveway was dimly lit, with pothole encounters. We were told that additional lighting will be provided, but watch your step.
- Visitors are advised to arrive 20 minutes prior to the start of their scheduled performance. Park in the lot and head to the welcome center, from which the group will depart to the mansion. A very brief walk up a hill is involved (leave those Elvira heels at home!).
- Photography within the mansion is prohibited.
For more fall fun, check out our roundup of Halloween events taking place in Westchester and the Hudson Valley.
Photos courtesy of the venue unless otherwise noted.