Location: 2124 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Located conveniently five blocks from the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Eastern State Penitentiary is known as “America’s Most Historic Prison.”
The prison is open every day from 10AM-5PM, and costs $12 for adults, $8 for students, $8 for kids, while group rates and private tours are available as well.
There are many different tours available at this infamous haunted prison. For Halloween, the most popular tour takes place during evening hours. Specifically, tickets cost $20 from 7PM-11PM on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays, $25 from 7PM-11PM on Fridays and Sundays and $30 from 7PM-12AM on Sundays. The prison isn’t open every day of the month, so attendees should check the online schedule ahead of time.
Customers can purchase tickets in person at the box office anytime from 11-6 and 11-closing on event days, while they can also purchase tickets online through Ticketmaster, giving them the “Quick Pass” option, which allows them to skip long lines and pay for parking all at once, if they wish. If you come with a group of 20 or more, you can get up to $15 off the admissions fee when you pay in advance. You can also order tickets by phone (800-653-8000) or at Ticketmaster outlets. Friday and Saturday nights tend to sell out quick, so reservations are recommended.
If you want the ultimate Halloween experience, check out the After Dark VIP Tour. For $99, a group of 15 people or less (whoever signs up) is guided at 8PM through a flashlight-led walking tour, displaying various cellblocks, Al Capone’s cell, the underground isolation cells under Cellblock 14 and Death Row.
Current promotions include buy one get one free tickets, free daytime prison tour tickets with other ticket purchases, $10 all night for family night and student discounts. You can download a $3 off coupon from their website as well.
The tour itself takes place mostly inside, but the beginning starts outside, so people are encouraged to dress accordingly. Kids are more than welcome as long as they are over age seven, but staff recommends bringing kids ages 7-12 on family nights, held each Sunday before the evening’s tour. Daytime tours are great to attend if you want to do more firsthand research on the prison, and it includes a narrated audio commentary from Steve Buscemi, with focus on architecture, escapes, history and art installations.
The whole tour takes about an hour and a half. When you enter, you’ll go to the “Yard Out” where you’ll experience 177 years of recreational yard territory for about 25 minutes, featuring angry prison guards and crazy prisoners. They also have video footage and ghost stories about the penitentiary, featuring clips from MTV, FOX and the Sci-Fi channel. For the next 45 minutes, you’ll be led through the five different house sections: Intake, Night Watch, Lock Down, Infirmary and The Experiment in 3D. After the tour there are more exhibitions, a DJ, snack bar and gift shop.
Because Eastern State has been in ruins since 1971, the city of Philadelphia requires attendees to sign a waiver before entering the property. Cameras, flashlights, firearms and alcoholic beverages are not allowed on the property.
Eastern State Penitentiary has been rated #1 among haunted houses in America (in 2008) and continues to receive consistently high ratings.
For more information, check out their website.