Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary
If you’re anything like me, you probably love a good scare. You’ve most likely gone to at least one haunted house or hayride in your life, and it was either okay or it simply sucked. I myself have been to a few, but of the ones I’ve visited, Terror Behind the Walls is undoubtedly the best.
The event boasts six different attractions that take place within the dilapidated confines of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, which has been featured on shows like MTV’s “Fear” and “Ghost Hunters” as an actual haunted place. Cited by various sources as one of the greatest haunted house attractions in the country, my cousin Double K and I decided to test the claim. After our early arrival to the City of Brotherly Love, we spent a little time perusing the streets before finally heading over to the event parking lot, located about twelve blocks from the Eastern State Penitentiary.
Once parked, Double K and I hopped onto the trolley heading for the prison, where a staff member told the story of a man who made his way into the prison and somehow unleashed the restless spirits within the cells. When we reached the penitentiary, ghoulish, bloodied guards greeted us with wavers that had to be signed before going any further. After we got in, Double K and I grinned in excitement as a staff member took our “mug shot” before finally heading inside.
The prison itself is a very menacing structure. The people behind the event didn’t have to do much to the place; years of abandonment and decay before being reopened as a museum make it naturally creepy. Throughout our journey into the depths of the Eastern State Penitentiary, ravenous inmates and undead guards lunged at us from unseen corners, sometimes trailing behind us. In some haunted house attractions the scares are given away when people ahead of you scream, spoiling the illusion and surprise for you when you reach the corner. The best part about Terror Behind the Walls was that it didn’t matter if people were ahead of us; the monsters always found a way to creep up and scare us half to death!
I won’t give away too many details on the different attractions, but I will say that my favorite of the six themes are undoubtedly The Experiment in 3-D and Night Watch. In The Experiment, the walls come to life and everything jumps out at you. It’s almost like a drug-induced trip when you walk through the maze, and you don’t quite know if that monster on the wall is just a prop or someone waiting to lunge at you. In Night Watch you are provided with a tiny flashlight that barely cuts into the darkness. While it starts off fairly bright, it gets progressively darker and foggier through the labyrinth, and it becomes much harder to see the nasties hiding behind the many corners and objects scattered in your path. All I can say is that the evil ghouls WILL get you at one point or another.
If there is only one thing I find regrettable, it’s that the scares take only about an hour to complete. However, when you reach the end, you can hang out in the gift shop area to browse their goods or buy yourself a snack at the food stands. You can also wind down from all the terror and excitement by walking through a small section of the museum area that will give you a detailed history of the penitentiary. With high production values and a unique setting, Terror Behind the Walls provides plenty of fun scares and stands out from all the other haunted house tours.