Frequently Asked Questions
Here you'll find answers to the most frequently asked questions. If you have a question that's not addressed here, please send us an email at [email protected].
Terror Behind the Walls, America’s largest haunted house, is called “perfect for Halloween” by The New York Times, named #1 in the nation by Forbes, and featured on NBC’s TODAY Show. Terror Behind the Walls takes place inside the massive, castle-like walls of Eastern State Penitentiary and is consistently ranked among the top haunted attractions in America.
Terror Behind the Walls runs select nights September to November. On Saturdays and Sundays, we open at 6:30 pm. On all other nights, we open at 7:00 pm. We’re open until 11:00 pm or later, based on demand. See our schedule & prices page for current available show times and ticketing options. As long as you enter on within the 30-minute entry window listed on your ticket, you will be able to enjoy all six haunted attractions.
You bet it's scary. We do our absolute best to terrify you and your friends. Just imagine being inside a 10-acre abandoned prison at night. This is the nation’s premier haunted attraction, head and shoulders above the hayrides and haunted houses out there. Our goal is to make you scared. Really scared. And yes, it's possible that someone (or something?) might be lurking inside one of those empty, dark cells you keep walking past…
Yes. If at any point you wish to exit the attraction, just let one of our actors, event staff or security officers know and they will escort you out. Please be advised, however, that there are no refunds.
When you enter Terror Behind the Walls, you will be confronted with a critical decision: should you explore the prison and watch the action, or should you mark yourself to truly interact with the denizens of the cellblocks? Those who opt in for true interactivity may be grabbed, held back, sent into hidden passageways, and even temporarily removed from their group. They will deal with the consequences of their decision through six long attractions.
Many people believe that Eastern State Penitentiary is haunted. As early as the 1940s, officers and prisoners reported mysterious visions and eerie experiences in the ancient prison.
The penitentiary has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Most Haunted Live, Ghost Adventures, and Paranormal Challenge; Fox Television’s World’s Scariest Places; TLC’s America’s Ghost Hunters; and MTV’s FEAR. Footage captured on the second tier of Cellblock 12 by paranormal investigators during filming of SyFy’s Ghost Hunters may be the most controversial ghost sighting in history.
During the filming of Paranormal Challenge, host Zak Bagans called Eastern State Penitentiary “one of the most haunted places in the world.” Jack Osbourne, host of the Travel Channel’s Portals to Hell, agreed. After filming the series, he noted, “Eastern State Penitentiary really freaked me out… The place is terrifying… Easily one of the most haunted places I’ve ever been.”
For our 2019 season of scares, Terror Behind the Walls is bringing back six thrilling attractions with new interactive experiences that are more immersive than ever.
This year, you face more opportunities to fall prey to the creatures who roam the dark penitentiary than ever before. You will wind your way through the narrow cellblocks of the historic prison, encountering zombie guards, a gruesome colony of cannibal warriors, maniacal surgeons and nurses, and other fearsome inhabitants.
Ticket prices vary. Visit our schedule & prices page for ticketing options.
Terror Behind the Walls tickets are valid for a specific date. All sales are final. There are no refunds or exchanges, including for unused tickets. If you arrive late on the date of your ticket, it will still be honored in the current time slot. After Dark VIP Tour tickets are time specific. If you miss the tour portion of your experience, you will still be able enjoy all six haunted attractions. There are no refunds for partially used tickets.
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc. is a charitable nonprofit organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All proceeds from Terror Behind the Walls help us operate and preserve this National Historic Landmark. Terror Behind the Walls is the single largest source of revenue for the historic site. Thank you for your support!
If you buy your ticket in advance online, you’ll minimize your wait in line! All tickets are sold in half hour entry windows. If you arrive during your entry window, you can expect to enter the penitentiary complex within 30 to 45 minutes. Once you enter the penitentiary complex, you can expect to wait about 15 to 20 minutes before entering the first of six haunted attractions. Please do not arrive before the time printed on your ticket; this will only extend your wait time.
You can further reduce your wait time by purchasing a Quick Pass ticket. Quick Pass tickets allow for immediate entry into the penitentiary complex. Once inside, you can expect to wait 10-15 minutes in line before the first haunted attraction.
If you are arriving by car, you should plan to arrive at the Ghost Bus parking lot 30 minutes before the time printed on your ticket. The final Ghost Bus departs from the parking lot at the beginning of the last entry time for that evening.
If you are arriving via public transit, ride share or being dropped off, you should arrive at the penitentiary within the half-hour entry time printed on your ticket. Do not arrive before the time printed on your ticket; this will only extend your wait time.
You can expect to wait about 30 minutes before entering the haunted house. Once you enter, it takes about 45 minutes to walk through all six attractions. After surviving Terror Behind the Walls, you'll enter The Yard, an area with food and drinks, the Terror Gear Store, music, and live entertainment. Groups making transportation arrangements should anticipate leaving about two hours from the entry time printed on their tickets.
Terror Behind the Walls runs rain or shine. Please dress for the weather, and be sure to wear appropriate footwear. Sandals, flip-flops, open-toed shoes, and high heels are not permitted. Most of the event takes place inside; however, the line and some sections of the tour are outdoors, and the penitentiary is not heated.
We recommend that kids ages 7-12 visit on our Family Nights, held each Sunday until 7:30 pm. (On these nights, kids who get too scared can say, “Monster, be good!”) Kids under the age of seven are not permitted on the site. Visitors under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian complete a waiver for them. You can download a waiver here.
Yes. It’s the exact same show, but our actors are on the lookout for kids who may be too scared. Our actors will back away if a kid says, "Monster, be good," but kids who don't ask for mercy get none!
Yes, but only on Family Nights. On these nights, kids’ (ages 7-12) tickets purchased online are half price for entry times before 7:30 pm. Discounted kids’ tickets are not available on other show nights, so we highly recommend that families or groups with children visit on Family Nights. Offer not valid at the box office. Cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions.
Yes, but only on Student Sundays. Every Sunday night, students of all ages can purchase half price tickets for entry times after 7:30 pm. College students must present a valid student ID upon entry. Offer not valid at the box office. Cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions.
Yes! Discounted tickets are available for groups of 20 or more. In order to receive the discounted ticket price, groups must purchase their tickets in advance. Please see our group page for rates and additional information. Cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions.
Terror Behind the Walls is located at Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130. Convenient to Septa routes 49, 48, 43, 33, 32, and 7. No parking available at the penitentiary.
Terror Behind the Walls parking is located at The Philadelphia Zoo’s new parking garage at 3500 W. Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104. A Ghost Bus shuttle will take you from the zoo to the penitentiary and back. For more information about the Ghost Bus or for customized directions, visit our parking & directions page.
Terror Behind the Walls parking is located at The Philadelphia Zoo’s new parking garage at 3500 W. Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104. A Ghost Bus shuttle will take you from the zoo to the penitentiary and back. For more information about the Ghost Bus, visit our parking & directions page.
Plan to arrive at the Ghost Bus parking lot 30 minutes before the time listed on your ticket. The final Ghost Bus departs from the parking lot at the beginning of the last entry time for that evening.
Beginning at 6 pm, there is a drop-off / pick-up zone located directly in front of the penitentiary on the north side of Fairmount Avenue at 21st Street. Guests wishing to use the drop-off / pick-up zone should approach the penitentiary from the east on Fairmount Avenue. This zone is for active loading and unloading only. No cars or buses will be permitted to wait in this area.
Eastern State Penitentiary is a ruin which sat abandoned from 1971 until the early 1990s, and Terror Behind the Walls is a high-startle, high-intensity event featuring strobe lights, fog machines, and loud noises. We therefore require that every visitor complete a waiver before entering the property. You can download a waiver here.
Eastern State Penitentiary was abandoned for more than 20 years. While visitors are no longer required to wear hard hats, the building remains in a state of semi-ruin. Visitors should exercise caution and stay within the clearly marked public areas. For your safety, the penitentiary complex is monitored by a closed circuit surveillance system.
During Terror Behind the Walls, Emergency Medical Technicians, Philadelphia police officers, uniformed security officers, and plain-clothed security officers are on duty to assist visitors.
Eastern State Penitentiary has a zero-tolerance policy for troublemakers. Troublemakers will be ejected from the penitentiary complex without refund. We want everyone to have a safe, fun time.
Terror Behind the Walls is a high-startle, high-intensity event featuring strobe lights, fog machines, and loud noises. Visitors who are pregnant, prone to seizures, or who have certain health conditions should consult their physician before attending the event.
Many people in wheelchairs visit Terror Behind the Walls each year. That said, the penitentiary complex is not fully ADA compliant. The building is nearly 200 years old and is a National Historic Landmark. Sections of it may never be fully accessible.
There are several section of the haunted house that require 3-15 steps. These sections of the route can easily be bypassed. The rest of the route is equipped with ADA compliant ramps and meets most ADA guidelines.
Additionally, there are two accessible parking spots located on Fairmount Avenue directly in front of the penitentiary’s entrance. If these spaces are unavailable upon arrival, please ask a member of our staff for assistance.
If you have to ask, it’s best that you leave it in the car or, better yet, at home. We are dedicated to providing a safe, fun event for every visitor. Therefore, weapons of any kind, pepper spray, pocketknives, lighters, flashlights, alcoholic beverages, and any other potentially dangerous objects are not permitted inside the penitentiary.
We have a strict "no guns" policy, which means that even persons licensed to carry a firearm, including off-duty law enforcement officers, will not be permitted to bring their weapon into the penitentiary complex (and we can't hold them for you, either).
Our security team checks all bags for potentially dangerous objects and conducts random pat-downs.
Cameras are permitted, but photography and videography are not allowed inside the haunted houses.
Terror Behind the Walls takes place in America's Most Historic Prison. You will begin your evening in a former exercise yard, surrounded by massive 30-foot-high walls. During your visit, you will walk down several real cellblocks, past the long abandoned cells that once held some of the 80,000 men and women that served time at Eastern State. Halfway through, you will have a chance to visit the penitentiary’s central surveillance hub. Here, you will have a magnificent view down all seven original cellblocks.
Following the attraction you’ll have complimentary access to the no–contact visitation room for prisoners, where you can watch a video about the penitentiary’s history and read a bit about the penitentiary's past.
The best way to learn about Eastern State's history and architecture is to visit during daytime hours. All visitors to TBTW receive $5 off a daytime tour ticket with their TBTW ticket or ticket stub. Daytime admission includes an audio tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi, several Hands-On History interactive experiences, and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations.
We hope you will gain a glimpse into Eastern State’s fascinating history during TBTW and return for a daytime prison tour.
At the conclusion of the Terror Behind the Walls tour route, you will find a snack bar with chicken fingers, fries, funnel cake, and other quick bites.
There are no formal dining facilities within the penitentiary complex; however, there are several wonderful restaurants in the surrounding neighborhood. We strongly recommend calling ahead to make reservations for large groups.