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Buzz: Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls 2013

Photos courtesy of Felicia Perretti Photography

Terror Behind the Walls, now in its 22nd year, is consistently ranked among the top haunted attractions in the country.

Terror Behind the Walls, now in its 22nd year, is consistently ranked among the top haunted attractions in the country.

Terror Behind the Walls, America’s largest haunted house, is located inside the massive castle-like walls of Eastern State Penitentiary in Philly. Now in its 22nd year, this extraordinary theatrical production is consistently ranked among the top haunted attractions in the country. In 2013, Terror Behind the Walls runs on select evenings from September 20th through November 9th.

A Massive Haunted House in a Real Prison

The setting for Terror Behind the Walls is unmatched for a haunted attraction. Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a lost world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. This gothic structure, with soaring 30-foot high fortress walls, is intimidating enough during the day. At night, the cellblocks fall into darkness, and the building becomes truly terrifying.

Terror Behind the Walls features Hollywood-quality sets, custom-designed props, animatronics, and digital sound effects, all taking place within the walls of the prison. It takes an elite team of 14 makeup artists almost three hours to prepare the cast of more than 200 performers each evening. The event consists of six haunted attractions that create a seamless experience for visitors.

For the first time in the event’s history, visitors will be confronted with a critical decision: should they explore the prison and watch the action, or should they mark themselves to truly interact with the denizens of the cellblocks? Those who opt in for true interactivity may be grabbed, held back, sent into hidden passageways, removed from their group, and even occasionally incorporated into the show. They will deal with the consequences of their decision through six long attractions.

No. 1 Haunted House in America

With the growing interest in paranormal investigations, Eastern State Penitentiary may be the most carefully studied building in the United States. Nearly 60 paranormal teams visit to explore the site in a typical year.

With the growing interest in paranormal investigations, Eastern State Penitentiary may be the most carefully studied building in the United States. Nearly 60 paranormal teams visit to explore the site in a typical year.

Terror Behind the Walls is consistently ranked among the nation’s top haunted attractions. The Travel Channel calls it “One of America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions,” and it was named “One of the top three must-see haunts in America” by Haunted Attraction Magazine. The industry commends the event as well. Patrick Konopelski, president of the Haunted Attraction Association, says, “Terror Behind the Walls is one of the best. A world-class haunted attraction.”

Terror Behind the Walls has grown from a single-night event in 1991 to a 29-night event with shows selling out far in advance. Nearly half of the visitors who attended the event in 2012 traveled to Philadelphia for the event, with tickets sold to visitors in 49 states and 18 foreign countries, making Terror Behind the Walls a national and international destination for thrill-seekers and Halloween lovers.

VIP Experiences

Visitors can purchase special VIP Experience packages to enhance their visit.

After Dark VIP Tour

The After Dark VIP Tour begins with an hour-long, guided flashlight walking tour of the historic penitentiary. Highlights include the cellblocks, Operating Room, Al Capone’s cell, and the underground punishment cells below Cellblock 14. Following the tour, guests will be escorted to the front of the Terror Behind the Walls lines. Visitors can remember their evening with a souvenir photo of their group, taken inside the penitentiary, and a special Terror Behind the Walls LED flashlight (included in admission).

Fright and a BITE

Visitors can enjoy a delicious Halloween-themed meal at one of the wonderful restaurants in Fairmount that includes tickets to Terror Behind the Walls and Quick Passes to skip the line. Visitors can make reservations at the restaurant of their choice, and Terror Behind the Walls tickets arrive with dessert.

Details about VIP Experiences can be found at easternstate.org/vip.

Is it Really Haunted?

Many people believe that Eastern State Penitentiary is haunted. As early as the 1940s, officers and inmates reported mysterious visions and eerie experiences in the ancient prison.

With the growing interest in paranormal investigations, Eastern State Penitentiary may now be the most carefully studied building in the United States. Nearly 60 paranormal teams visit to explore the site in a typical year. The historic site’s website, easternstate.org/ghosts, features extensive television and audio clips that document real paranormal investigations inside the 184-year old prison.

The penitentiary has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Most Haunted Live, Ghost Adventures, and Paranormal Challenge; Fox Television’s World’s Scariest Places; TLC’s America’s Ghost Hunters; and MTV’s FEAR. Footage captured on the second tier of Cellblock 12 by paranormal investigators during filming of SyFy’s Ghost Hunters may be the most controversial ghost sighting of the past 10 years. During the filming of Paranormal Challenge, host Zak Bagans called Eastern State Penitentiary “one of the most haunted places in the world.”

General Information

Terror Behind the Walls is located inside Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue in Philadelphia, PA. Terror Behind the Walls does not affect operation of the historic site, which remains open for daytime tours seven days a week, year round. All proceeds from Terror Behind the Walls benefit the preservation of Eastern State Penitentiary, a National Historic Landmark.

Tickets for Terror Behind the Walls are on sale now at easternstate.org/buynow. Buying online is ALWAYS the cheapest and most convenient way to purchase tickets. Visitors save time and money, and purchasing in advance is the only way to guarantee entry to the event. For more information about Terror Behind the Walls, the public can visit easternstate.org/halloween.

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