This penitentiary was an 18th Century social experiment along Quaker principles. It went horribly wrong. Complete solitary ... More
Eastern State Penitentiary
This penitentiary was an 18th Century social experiment along Quaker principles. It went horribly wrong. Complete solitary confinement was the rule, based on the theory that inmates would use the time for prayer, reflection, and penitence. In fact, the loneliness destroyed many and eventually overcrowding led to squalid conditions with no pretense of reform. It finally closed in the 1970s. The degree of infamy Eastern State Penitentiary experienced when in use made Alcatraz seem like a day care center. Inmates formerly incarcerated here include arch criminal Al Capone and bank robber Willie Horton. Although it stands today in crumbling condition, visitors get an eerie feel when viewing the vaulted cell blocks and central rotunda. Daily tours are offered. Just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Incredible place on so many different levels - We spent half a day there taking pictures and sight seeing. Probably would of stayed for the whole day if we did not have other plans. I really liked the self paced audio tour. We did not feel rushed and took time to explore what we found fascinating.
The value is incredible - 12 dollars each. It was far superior than any museum I have visited. I recommend going on a chilly/crisp day after a rain. The wet look of the stone makes for the texture in the photos really stand out.
This place may not be for everybody .......... its not Disney World or a theme park. Its a dark prison with some disturbing history behind it. If you keep that in mind you will enjoy your visit. Fascinating beyond words is about the best I can describe it.
-- We are going to make this a regular stop when we visit Philly from now on.
HANDS DOWN the best haunted house I've ever been too. Normally, I'm one of the people that visits these places, not because its frightening, but because its entertaining and more comical than anything. I usually dont even expect to be startled. THIS TIME WAS THE EXCEPTION!!! I, quite literally, jumped on the back of the poor girl in front of me. The big strong man I was with..... had the girl behind him jump on his back as well. He even was startled quite a few times. The actors were GREAT!!! Make up and constumes also great. The atmosphere of the prison is spooky on its own (the day tour was great btw, they let you roam freely through the prision with an audio guide). At first, we were leary about making the 2.5hr trip to PA from Baltimore MD. We had even cancelled a prior planned trip here in October, but decided "WTH". Sooo glad we came here. The entire experiance is one I will have each year, as we plan to come back every Halloween Season.
It’s been a few years since my last visit to a haunted house. I have been to a few though, some good, some bad, and one that was amazing. And I do love a good scary movie. Terror Behind The Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary was a disappointment.
The costumes and makeup were well done. Some actors and actresses roam around while you wait in line to get into the main event, sneaking up behind people and scaring them. It makes the wait easier because you are constantly anticipating being startled or watching it happen to others. But the actual event was a let-down.
Before going into detail I must first tell of an insightful observation that my girlfriend made. There was one actor going through the crowd messing with people as they arrived. He was particularly good at his character (definitely one of the best there) He came up to us several times while online and said in his creepy voice “you wanna be first?(snickering) you’ll figure it out”. A cliched line that I thought he was posing as a question. But it was indeed an ominous warning of things to come. As my girlfriend astutely noted at the end of our experience, that zombie prison guard was actually making a statement, not asking a question. It was advice from a friend that we dismissed as a haunted-house banter from a guy in character. In reality he was giving us instructions. “you wanna be first” or else it completely sucks. And he was right, we did “figure it out.”
So, back to my review.
Overall, It just wasn’t frightening.
The key to a good scare is not knowing it’s going to happen. But they have so many people to get in there that it is a bit rushed. They let you in with at least 10 or 12 other people in a single-file line. 9 out of 10 times you know something is coming a few seconds before it happens to you because you hear and/or see it happen to the guy a few paces ahead. And that’s the best case scenario-that’s if you get lucky enough for it to happen to you!
Half of the tour is done through a maze of make-shift plywood partitions in the courtyard, which disappointed me because I imagined the creators would have used the amazing setting of the interior of the prison much more than they did. There was nothing frightening in this part at all.
After you get through the courtyard and into part of the prison there are only a small handful of rooms designed well for scaring (almost all of those however are spoiled though if you yourself, are not the very first person in your line) other rooms are just like stations that you walk by where you very briefly watch an actor perform some kind of action like pretending to operate on a body or they repeat some one-liner. There was an overall lack of blood and guts but this ingredient was especially lacking in the infirmary portion.
I live about an hour from the place so it wasn’t a terrible
distance to travel. But it just wasn’t worth it. To put it in perspective I wouldn’t go back if it were right down the road from me and only $5-$10 for admission.
I think the prison itself is amazing. It must have been incredibly tough to be a prisoner there. Overall the grounds are good, the staff was knowledgeable and helpful. It was a "good to go and see once" type of deal. Parking was easy, just outside the walls. It was cheap, 14 bucks a head gets you a personal audio tour guide and freedom to roam. The only thing that I did not like was most of it was under construction or not accessible. All in all great bang for your buck and tons of history.
I was so excited to go to ESP. I bought 2 tickets for my husband any myself ($125 total). Drove over 2 hours, we're from Baltimore. Circled for more then an hour looking for the correct parking lot, their signage sucks!!! We finally got on the correct street for the parking and had to wait another hour just to make it down the street. Once parked we stood in line for the shuttle for another 2 hours. I think they had a total of 5 shuttles, and there was no consistancy at all, they really need to organzie the shuttles better. Once we got there, we didnt have to wait in line, I had paid an additional $15 pp for the VIP pass. The overall theme of the prison was great. I was really expecting more of a tour deeper into the prison, and it was FAR from being scary, it was actually quite lame. I think it would be good to go to a day tour but the Terror behind the walls was bad.
My girlfriend, her friend, and I took the Halloween Terror Behind the Walls tour at 10PM after driving 1 1/2 hours from NYC and were very disappointed with the end results! According to the website, we were lead to believe that the tour would encompass more aspects of the prison (as seen on TV shows) but were disappointed with the end results.
We were under the impression that the tour was more comprehensive and thorough then a mere 45 minute haunted house that would not even scare a child. We were hoping to encounter evidence of paranormal activity throughout the bowels of the prison wings, not just a made-up haunted house that we could have witnessed in NYC. Suffice it to say, even waiting on the long, time-consuming line was more entertaining than the haunted house! For $112.00 USC for 3 tickets on Ticketmaster, plus tolls and gas, this trip was not worth the aggravation in the end. We would have enjoyed an actual tour of the prison and felt that the website was misleading in that manner. Instead we got our hopes up that we would be walking through and experiencing the awe-inspiring fascination of the prison. I feel that there should have been a choice to do the haunted house or the prison tour. Now it is too late to experience a tour because the season is over.
Upon my first trip to Philadelphia over Labor Day weekend, 2005, we stumbled upon this unbelievable relic, nestled in the middle of a quaint intown neighborhood. The fare was low, yet the experience was truly unforgettable. Being able to touch the walls, hear the sounds, smell the dankness, and imagine the life inside this fortress created an impression on my mind I won't soon forget. The displays were excellent -- a first-class attraction. I was especially impressed by the "ghost cats" art and the history behind it. We could have stayed there all day if we didn't have other city sights to see that day. Don't let this one pass .... it's a must-visit!
I liked everything about this place. I went to the Halloween production they have around that time of year and the next day I went on a regular tour and it was very cool! It's very informative and just a neat place to visit. Especially if you're into history. I'm surprised it's not ranked higher under the list of "things to do" in Philly.
My sons and I did have an experience of the paranormal kind, although I cannot disclose the picture I have until I share it with the tourist attraction in question, I had also had my camera knocked out of my hand before I had felt this heaviness. My boys loved it, and it was inexpensive to take the tour.
This is surely a hidden treasure. It was the very first penitentiary in the nation. If you like ruins, and are curious about ghosts, this place is a MUST. Check out the prison package through the Best Western. Trendy neighborhood, cute taverns and restaruants. Bridgeds is up the street; the food and atmosphere were great!
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