The penitentiary was home to such frightening characters as Al Capone and the flamboyant bank robber, "Slick" Willie Sutton, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers.
The prison has long been reported to be haunted. The Sci-Fi Channel's series, Ghost Hunters, featured a paranormal investigation conducted in September of 2005. The investigation proved so compelling, the series producers returned to film another two nights of investigation.
This silent, grim environment is home to Terror Behind the Walls which in recent years has consistently been ranked as one of the top haunted attractions in the nation. Previous recognitions include: "5th Best Haunted House in the United States" by AOL City Guide, (2006); "One of Bloody Mary's Favorite Haunted Houses" by The Tales of Bloody Mary (Issue #8, 2006); "Best Haunted Attraction" by The Scare Factor! (2005); "9th Best Haunted House in the United States" by HauntWorld Magazine (2004) and "Best Professional Haunted House" by Hauntfreaks.com (2003).
The massive haunted house has grown to become one of the nation's largest and most distinctive haunted attractions.
When you enter the Penitentiary Complex your first stop will be Yard Out. Here, inside the Penitentiary's 177 year old recreation yard, you'll encounter insane prisoners and sadistic guards while a video introduction will keep you entertained with real ghost stories about Eastern State, clips from MTV's FEAR episode, FOX’s Scariest Places on Earth and the Sci Fi Channel’s Ghost Hunters, all filmed at Eastern State. You can expect to spend about 25-30 minutes in Yard Out.
Guests then board a prison bus and enter Intake (added in 2005), the first of five separate haunted houses within the 11-acre complex.. Upon arriving at the prison's Processing Center, guests journey through the delousing chambers, finger printing and mugshot rooms, and, finally, visit with the Warden himself.
After surviving the Warden's interrogation, guests are marched single-file into the prison yard where the "good" inmates will be separated from the "bad" inmates. Meanwhile, insane guards run above their heads on the catwalks of a massive 30 foot high guard tower as they struggle to maintain order.
From Intake, the terrorizing journey continues to the newest attraction for 2007, Lock Down, which takes place inside the historic Cellblock Twelve, a three-story wing added to the Eastern State Penitentiary in 1911. Lock Down is the largest and most sophisticated design yet at Terror Behind the Walls. It incorporates custom-built animatronic props, high tech lighting effects, digital sound and several special effects. The overall effect creates the illusion that walls of metal bars and cell doors are electrified.
Following Lock Down guests proceed through 13 Rooms, The Experiment: In 3D and Night Watch (added in 2006), where visitors explore on their own where the flashlight in your hand is the only light, and the deep shadows seem alive.
Designed to be high-startle and low-gore, Terror Behind the Walls includes Hollywood-quality special effects and lighting, digital sound, animatronic creatures, and custom props. All six haunted attractions are included in the admission price.
The event runs on select nights from September 21 to November 3, 2007. Terror Behind the Walls begins at 7 p.m. each evening and runs to either 11:00 p.m. or midnight. Ticket prices vary according to date and range from $20 - $30 per person. Group rates are available.
All proceeds from Terror Behind the Walls benefit the preservation of the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, a National Historic Landmark. You can write off one-half of your ticket cost (excluding TicketMaster charges) as a donation to charity on your income taxes.
Eastern State Penitentiary is also open for daytime, historic tours April through November from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
For more information you can visit the prison's website at http://www.easternstate.org/halloween/index.html.