What to Expect at This Year’s Terror Behind the Walls

A quick look at the Eastern State Penitentiary show's 25th year

Photo courtesy of Eastern State Penitentiary.

Photo courtesy of Eastern State Penitentiary.

Is the Eastern State Penitentiary haunted? Maybe, but scares were definitely plentiful as the preserved prison kicked off its Halloween-season show, Terror Behind the Walls, over the weekend.

First Thoughts: There is no doubt that this is a very popular event for Philadelphians. Not far into Saturday night the line wrapped around the exterior of the Penitentiary. The actors who greeted visitors amped up the excitement as we waited for our fake blood and pictures before going inside.

What’s New: Two of the six attractions, “Quarantine 4D” and “Break Out!” are new additions to Terror Behind the Walls. “Quarantine 4D” concerns the aftermath of an infection in the prison, leaving visitors to stumble through a hallucinatory path of bizarre sights, altered perception, and colorful creatures. In “Break Out!” inmates scramble to try to escape their prison as you look for your own exit.

Other Attractions: “Machine Shop” is what happens when high school shop class becomes your worst nightmare. “Detritus” features some creepy creatures; you might be spooked by other looming figures if you stare too long. “Infirmary” is a more gruesome attraction, with dimly lit equipment and moving bodily remains. In “Lock Down,” you’ll have to put on a brave face while wandering through the corridor of seemingly possessed prisoners.

Highlights: “Quarantine 4D” is the most interesting of all the attractions. With its neon colors and pop-outs, it may not be what you typically think of when you picture a haunted house, but the interactive walkthrough is purposefully disorienting, yet visually fascinating.

For the daredevils: To make the experience a little more intimidating, you can choose to take a “tracker” glowstick that lets the actors touch and pull you into a scene—an examination chair in the infirmary. perhaps. Don’t mouth off too much though, or you may be separated from your group, as one particularly enthusiastic guest was during Saturday night’s show.

For the bigger daredevils: On the last two nights, November 6th and 7th, there will be a “remix” of the original show. Visitors will go through all the attractions, but completely in the dark with only a glowstick as their guiding light. It’s worth a try if you love excitement.

Final Tips: Halloween may still be some time away, but if you’re interested in experiencing this event, go sooner rather than later, and purchase tickets online. The price will more than double over the final nights of Terror. Prices for each showing and their dates are listed on the website, as well as days for children and student discounts.