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Eastern State Penitentiary’s Halloween Attractions

Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary is a world-famous museum and National Historic Landmark that has kept within its walls notorious criminals such as Al Capone. Its wagon wheel design was revolutionary and its methods of reform through solitary confinement made it a pioneer for its time. Built in 1829, Eastern State was so innovative and radical in its technique of solitary imprisonment that it coined the term “the Pennsylvania system,” further adding to the fame of our state. The Pennsylvania system imposed a near-24/7 regiment of solitude, meant to inspire quiet, personal reflection as a form of penance for the inmates’ crimes. If it’s not scary already, this museum is just dying to get to closing time when visitors, tourists, and thrill-seekers come for one of America’s scariest Halloween attractions.

Terror Behind the Walls is Eastern State’s collection of six different attractions that seem to bring your nightmares to life as actors do their very best to absolutely terrify you. Before starting, you have the option to walk the interactive path, with actors pushing you down dark hallways, grabbing you, or even separating you from your companions. And, of course, you can always let one of the actors, staff, or security know if the event is just too scary. Play it safe with the regular tour, untouched and a little less scared. But be sure to buy tickets to the newest attraction, called Lock Down: The Uprising. Rioting inmates are quick on their feet to scare you, hungry for flesh, while panicked guards flee and leave you behind. The interactive option on this attraction involves secret rooms and the option to join the side of the inmates in their battle to break free. You can discover all the details about Terror Behind the Walls at http://www.easternstate.org/halloween.  Find tickets and prices ranging $19-$45, as well as a schedule for all attractions, at the website

The regular daylight hours offer the new “Voices of Eastern State” audio tour, narrated by Steve Buscemi, with stops around the prison that provide information on riots, sports, sexuality, and more. This intimate tour features dozens of voices that provides insight into the personal lives of the inmates. Make sure to stop by Al Capone’s cell which features a surprising level of extravaganza with oriental rugs, Victorian lamps and furniture, and a cabinet radio that is sure to delight any antique aficionado.

Eastern State Penitentiary is open to the public as a museum for tours seven days a week, twelve months a year, 10AM to 5PM. Most of the Terror Behind the Walls Attractions run 7PM to midnight or later.

Guest blogger, Brandon Sherbo

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