Terror Behind the Walls 2018 Review
Hello and welcome to a review of the Terror Behind the Walls experience at Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) that just re-opened for Halloween this season. As an avid lover of fall and all things Halloween, I decided to check out Terror Behind the Walls on a Friday night during the opening weekend back in September. There’s nothing like kicking off October with some screams and delight. Keep reading below for a guide to the experience, what to expect and my thoughts below. I promise no spoilers!
Tickets are sold at the door and online (for less) for Terror Behind the Walls. Pricing starts at 19 dollars online but can vary depending on the night. For example, closer to Halloween the prices increase as a result of demand. I would recommend buying tickets online for convenience but do be sure to check with your group for timings and coordinate ahead of time as time slots do fill up closer to the date. Personally, our group of four bought tickets for the 7-7:30pm time slot and arrived at 7:20pm. (Note* I also got a ticket for 7:30 originally and could not get it refunded. However, the second 7pm ticket wasn’t necessary. So now we know.)
We did not enter until after 7:30 because there was still a line but there was no issues with this. The line tends to go around the block as the night progresses, so be prepared for a potential wait if you come later in the evening. Luckily, the lines do move quickly but I am not kidding when I said it went around the block that Friday night. I promise the wait is well worth it though, so don’t be discouraged. There are plenty of spooky prison inmates to startle you along the way.
It is also important to note that the event is for children ages 7 and up. There are also Family Nights on select dates where children can say “monster be good” if things get too scary for them. In addition, there is a student discount after 7:30pm on Sunday nights. Definitely check out the website for pricing and additional packages such as a VIP experience which includes a flashlight tour of the prison before the Terror Behind the Walls experience.
Waivers & Options
Once tickets are scanned, you will be asked to sign a waiver. Yes, things got very serious shortly after signing off on that. After another line, there is a quick introduction to the experience from the wonderful staff at Eastern State Penitentiary. Before you enter, there is a decision you must make which determines your fate at Terror Behind the Walls. The option is a more interactive experience where the monsters and ghouls can grab you and even take you away from your group momentarily. To opt-in you receive a glow stick that you wear around your neck. Of course, at anytime, you have the freedom to simply remove the glow stick and opt-out should things get too real and spooky. Personally, I am a scaredy cat and opted-out along with the rest of the group. Although, my partner, Dave, did slightly regret not opting in because he is hard to frighten. Next time, he may opt-in. Once you decide on this, you’re on your way to a startling and adrenaline-pumping adventure.
The attraction has six different rooms, including the newly revamped Infirmary. The first room is aptly named Lock Down and is a truly haunted cellblock (12 to be exact) overrun with zombies. This room is followed by the long forgotten Machine Shop where evil lurks. After which, the revamped Infirmary is sure to serve your worst nightmare. It is interactive and the visuals are very cool. After you escape the infirmary, the Blood Yard filled with cannibals is next. The next room was something unique and memorable to Terror Behind the Walls. Quarantine 4D is a hallucinatory experience using 3D glasses to take things to another sensory level. Finally, Break Out is the final room standing in your way to freedom.
If you’re brave enough to get through all six rooms, you will have had the time of your life. Personally, I screamed so much being startled, frightened and shocked at many points throughout the experience. I also appreciated the wait times in between each room to recover and catch my breath. I recommend wearing comfy shoes, such as sneakers, as you will be walking around real cellblocks and there are some stairs at some points. The attraction is open rain or shine so be prepared for the elements. I recommend wearing light flexible layers if there is a fall chill since prisons from back in the day did not have central heating.
Lastly, if you’re brave enough to go through the six rooms in complete darkness with just a glow stick, consider the Remix nights in November. I’m sure that the remixed experience is one unlike anything I’ve experienced thus far. Overall, the experience itself was well worth the money and previous haunted attractions pale in comparison. Terror Behind the Walls is well executed and creative in so many ways. There were literally moments where I was in awe from some of the visuals.
Additionally, there are tickets for purchase to a speakeasy in Al Capone’s cell that includes a complimentary beer or soda drink. I was really interested in this idea but all the screaming worked up my appetite and I much preferred some food. On the way out of ESP, there were a ton of dining options within walking distance which leads us to the next section.
Dining Options in Fairmount
Across from Eastern State Penitentiary are a handful of bars including Urban Saloon, Jack’s Firehouse, Fare, A Mano and La Calaca Feliz. We were in the mood for tacos so we took a quick walk down the street for dinner at La Calaca Feliz.
We ordered a seasonal guacamole with cheese and corn that was served with tortilla chips. We also had an order of queso fundido which is a cheesy chorizo cheese fondue served with tortillas. For the main course, we had some delicious tacos including some short rib, mahi mahi and carnitas fillings. To finish the evening, we had some dessert, including a giant brownie sundae. Sitting in the outdoor seating under some cute string lights with some tropical margaritas in hand was a wonderful way to wind down after all the excitement.
I highly recommend a trip to Terror Behind the Walls and also encourage you all to try to visit during the day to really appreciate the history of the historic Eastern State Penitentiary. It’s absolutely fascinating and a must see in Philadelphia. I hope October is off to an amazing start and that you’re enjoying Halloween season already! Please comment below any suggestions for other fall activities because I am so ready for more! (Anything from haunted attractions to your favorite apple orchard are highly encouraged!) Thanks for reading!