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“Good for Architecture Buffs” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary
2124 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130
215 236 3300
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Philadelphia CityPass
Ranked #5 of 262 Attractions in Philadelphia
Type: Historic Sites, Museums, Cultural
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Tours today include the cellblocks, solitary punishment cells, Al Capone’s Cell, and Death Row.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Jacksonville, Florida
Top Contributor
124 reviews 124 reviews
20 attraction reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
“Good for Architecture Buffs”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2010

Went to Eastern State after seeing it on "Ghost Adventures". It was a free preview day, which was an extra bonus. Tour begins with a history of the penitentiary system, and how ESP differs from other prisons. The place is really dilapidated, which is part of the appeal. We went on a cold rainy day in March--be forewarned that the place is not heated and dress accordingly. It was interesting to see it, but the audio tour areas are rather limited. If you can, I would go on one of the free scheduled tours included in admission because you can see more. The architecture is the most interesting part of the place-- I did not find it creepy or haunted at all, but fascinating in a more historical way. Quite a contrast to the prisons of today.

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Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“I live in Philly and I take my out of town visitors here!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2009

Don't be confused by the reviews that say "it's not scary"...they are writing about the halloween season haunted house held at ESP. The actual Eastern State Penitentiary building and tour is really interesting and pretty well done. I worked down the street from here for years before I actually went in for a tour and then I was pleasantly surprised by how cool it was! Now I take family and friends when they come to philly to visit. you can do the audio tour, so you are left to wander the building at your own pace. you can also do tour guide led tours to learn more about something you are specifically interested in (escapes, ghosts...).

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
17 reviews 17 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Not scary..Dont waste your money..Especially on the parking”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 16, 2009

My husband & I visited Terror Behind the Walls Oct 24th with a group of friends. What a waste of money and time driving down from NYC. I dont know how this place is rated one of the top halloween places in the US. I've been to scarier at our local cheapo haunted house. Its expensive to begin with (thank you Ticketmaster and your fees) and the ESP site "encourages" you to pay extra and park at the zoo, which we did not knowing any better, only to find out later - THERE'S PARKING IN FRONT OF THE PRISON.
We arrived in the vicinity of the zoo approximately 45 minutes prior to our scheduled tour time thinking this was plenty of time to get a spot, catch the trolley and meet our friends in front of the prison. However, due to an insane amount of traffic we could not even get close to the zoo entrance. So we decided to suck up the $10 and try to find a spot within walking distance of the prison. And guess what, we found a spot in front of the prison. Literally...IN FRONT OF THE PRISON.
Once inside, they had the typical people trying to scare you. Nothing we havent seen anywhere else. We would have been better off taking the day tour and learning something worthwhile about this place.
Do yourself a favor - Save your money. You are better off going to blockbuster and renting the Exorcist if you want to get scared.

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Atlantic City
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2009

This was one of the worst places I have ever been to. Nothing was scary about it. The "actors" were the lamest ever. The best part was sitting across the street at the bar! Even if it was 40 degrees out. I was so excited about going to this, wanted to go for years, wish I would of saved my money and went else. I cannot express how disappointed I was (and everyone else in our group). All we did was walk like cattle through it, nobody really tried to scare us, at one point when the walk took us outside the music just stopped and it never started again. OMG I think back to it and it was just soooooooooo bad. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY!

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Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
13 attraction reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Great venue, Terror Behind the Walls was okay”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2009

Because of some rain keeping people away, we didn't have to wait in any lines and actually got in prior to our time window. We were grateful we didn't spend extra for the fast pass because the haunted house wasn't that awesome. We might have regretted it if we'd had to stand in line for hours.

There were some good startles and a couple funny actors. The 3-D area is trippy and fun. The biggest problem was they didn't separate groups enough. Many times the actor or set piece was resetting as we were entering an area, ruining the scare completely. It was fun nonetheless and we're glad we went. Honestly, with an experienced haunted house designer, they could make it ten times better/scarier with very minor changes.

The prison itself is amazing. That's the only reason I didn't rate this as average. Probably the creepiest part of the experience. If you do the haunted house, make sure to look through the prison's regular exhibits that are open.

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