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Top of the Weekend: Where true terror lives

Posted on Friday, October 24th, 2014 at 7:57am.

By day, Eastern State Penitentiary is a fascinating ruin, the relic of an experiment in prison reform gone wrong. But when the sun sets, the ghosts that inhabit it take over. They get the run of the place during Halloween season, and if you're brave enough, you can see them.

This is the last weekend before Halloween, which falls on the start of next weekend. So if you haven't had your really good scare yet, we recommend you get it in now and avoid the last-minute rush.

We know just the place to go: Eastern State Penitentiary. The moldering historic prison located between Francisville and Fairmount is the perfect setting for a fright-filled tour that will set your hair on edge.

And "Terror Behind the Walls," a horror-fan favorite for 23 years, offers that tour. Actually, it offers six of them.

Over in Cell Block 12, said to be the most haunted spot in the prison, there's a riot goin' on, and "Lock Down" takes you right into the middle of it. "Infirmary," one of the event's longest-running attractions, takes you into the scary side of prison medical treatment. "The Experiment" offers a frightening, 3-D fun house experience. "Detritus" takes you on a creepy crawl through the prison's overgrown greenhouse, and it's lights out for "Night Watch," a disorienting tour through the unlit hallways of the penitentiary.

New this year is "Machine Shop," a tour that takes place in a never-before-open-to-the-public portion of the prison, featuring interactive industrial-scale nightmares and hair-raising one-on-one experiences.

"Terror Behind the Walls" makes great use of Eastern State's decayed interiors, transforming them into a haunted house to end all haunted houses with Hollywood-quality staging, acting, costumes and lighting. The annual event, the Number One haunted attraction in the country, draws thrill- and chill-seekers from all over the world. And it's right in our own back yard.

Terror Behind The Walls: Select nights through Nov. 8 at Eastern State Penitentiary, 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue. Check the calendar on the Eastern State website for specific dates, times and ticket prices. Tickets are cheaper online; purchase them here. Save $3 on each ticket by using the discount code VISITPHILLY31 when you order.

Photo by Tom Bernard for Visit Philly

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