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CityPASS Home  »  City Traveler Blog  »  Halloween Brings Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary

City Traveler Blog

Halloween Brings Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary

They don’t call it Terror Behind The Walls for nothing. Consistently rated among the nation’s top five haunted houses, and boasting Hollywood-quality special effects, this annual Halloween experience at the Eastern State Penitentiary is the scariest, most anticipated and celebrated of all Philadelphia attractions.

Looming like a Gothic castle in the City of Brotherly Love, the eerie former prison was once world famous for its practices of torture and isolation of prisoners. Could the ghostly whispers and weeping reportedly heard within these walls be a testament to the building’s storied past?

Walk beneath the vaulted ceilings and down the narrow halls of this spooky ruin, opened in 1829 and closed nearly 40 years ago, to find out for yourself.

“Our goal is to make you scared. Really scared,” promises the prison website. The 75-minute show is described as “a high-startle, high-intensity event featuring strobe lights, fog, loud noises and electrical effects.”

The terror begins in the former exercise yard enclosed by 30-foot high walls. Visitors then pass through five haunted houses and the creepy cellblocks that confined the 80,000 men and women incarcerated here, including Mob boss Al Capone.

From the prison’s central surveillance hub, visitors look down all seven cell blocks, viewing the celebrated and often copied wagon wheel design.

The finale takes place in the prisoners’ no-contact visitation room, where a video about the nation’s most historic prison, now a National Historic Landmark, plays.

Dozens of paranormal experts study this Philadelphia landmark each year. Terror Behind the Walls, which runs Sept. 17-Nov. 6, illustrates why.



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