Over the course of its prison operated years (1829-1971), the historic Eastern State Penitentiary housed 75,000 inmates including the notorious gangster Al Capone. Although the harrowing estate is no longer an active prison, there is still a lot of activity happening behind the walls, including the largest haunted house in the country— Terror Behind the Walls.
Terror Behind the Walls opens this weekend and will be more interactive than ever before
Those who have made the brave journey through the attraction the past few years know just how interactive and frighteningly fun Terror Behind the Walls can be, but this year is set to knock all past rounds of screams out of the park.
“We’re making the show more interactive than ever,” says Kenny Wittwer, Attraction Area Manager for Terror Behind the Walls. “We’re bringing back our classic six attractions that our fans have always loved, and we’re enhancing all the interactive experiences that we’ve dispersed throughout the show. The immersion starts the second visitors enter the gatehouse this year, which is brand new, and you stay immersed in our fictional universe until you leave at the end of the night.”
The escapade starts as soon as you walk in, and doesn’t end until you leave the Penitentiary far behind in your sights. There are two options guests can choose from, one allows you to walk through the attraction and witness all of the mayhem, while the other allows the performers to touch, pull you aside and maybe even isolate you away from your group.
“I think the interactive experience gives customers more agency and control over their experience and lets them decide how involved in the show they want to be,” says Wittwer. “It also pulls the visitors more into the storylines and the narratives behind the attractions in addition to our classic scares. They get to see another perspective of the show and see the more cohesive storyline that we’ve been building.”
Terror Behind the Walls will feature plenty of zombie guards, a gruesome colony of cannibal warriors, maniacal surgeons and nurses, and other fearsome inhabitants throughout its six-attraction stretch.
“All of our six classic attractions do build off of each other to kind of form this one cohesive storyline that unfolds with every step you take,” adds Wittwer.
There are a few additional experiences and packages Philadelphians can check out to enhance their time even more at Terror Behind the Walls. Interested participants can purchase a quick pass to skip the lines, fright and bite dinner packages at local eateries, an after-dark VIP tour, and visitors can also check out The Speakeasy in Al Capone’s cell to sip on cocktails, listen to live music and explore even more.
“What sets Terror Behind the Walls apart from other attractions? First, we are the largest haunted house in the country outside of a theme park, and of course Eastern State Penitentiary is the perfect setting for a haunted house,” says Wittwer. “We have massive gothic structures and we have 30-foot castle walls across our complex that really immerses you in this very tangible and physical barrier in our fictional universe and the rest of the city’s grid.”
Terror Behind the Walls runs select nights from September 20 through November 9. Tickets are available online or at the door, subject to availability. Ticket prices start at $24 and vary by night.
To learn more about the Eastern State Penitentiary (2027 Fairmount Ave.) and Terror Behind the walls, and to purchase tickets visit easternstate.org