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“Must see for history buffs and paranormal enthusiasts”

Eastern State Penitentiary
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Philadelphia 3-Combo Tour: Hop-on Hop-off, Eastern State Penitentiary, and...
Ranked #3 of 444 things to do in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence
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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
Sarasota, Florida
Level Contributor
122 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Must see for history buffs and paranormal enthusiasts”
Reviewed October 13, 2009

My 13 yr old daughter and I really enjoyed this. We had taken a ghost walk the night before and while we heard some interesting stories, it was rather blah. This tour, which was audio, real guides were available, was much better, more fun and informative. There is a very eerie feeling to the place. There is also a nighttime Halloween haunted house that I wish we had been able to attend.

Thank Pegdafittr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level Contributor
21 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Terror of BOREDOM”
Reviewed October 12, 2009

This was 1st time going to this. NOT worth the $30 per person. Even discounted tix arn't worth it. Horrible traffic getting in on a Saturday night - 40 minutes from I-76 exit ramp to parking lot. The line for the trolly - 500 ppl long. Trolleys only fit 50 ppl max. We hoofed it 35 minutes to the place to find ANOTHER HUGE line to get in. (also NOT the best place to be walking, not bad, but being in a group helps)
Once inside, eh, kinda cheesy. Some of the actors were really good. Pop'd out of places you didn't expect. Sounds effect were good. the 3D part was very cool. For the most part, becasue of the amount of people, you knew when someone was coming. You don't go thru as much of the prison as you think. and the $20 group photo a bit overpriced.
Wasn't spooky at all. For the 12-17 year old crowd, its perfect. I'd certainly be more interested in the historical tour, as it seemed very interesting from the little museum part at the end.

Thank PCB-511
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Neptune, NJ
Level Contributor
23 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“It was fun, but a long wait”
Reviewed October 11, 2009

We went to the Haunted House Tour. We booked a dinner pckg which included the tour btwn 7:30-8pm & dinner at 9pm (which is what the manager at the restaurant recommended for our time slot). We arrived at the Zoo parking at 7pm.. (the website says specifically NOT to get their early.. you will not get in and that you will have about a half hour wait). That was a joke. We waited 2 hours.. just to be taken to the penitentiary via the Ghost Bus Shuttle. We finally get there, went to the restaurant to get our tickets, the manager said for us to eat then & then go (we were supposed to eat after). Good idea because after we ate.. he walked us straight to the front of the line & we got right in, probably a little after 10pm. We had about a half hour wait once we got in ... It lasts about 30 mins.. you walk thru the bldg, people jump out at you, its very dark, one part is in 3D. If you go, dress warm. It was quite cool waiting (we went Oct 10th). I wish I could see what the bldg looks like in the daytime.. its quite impressive & very old & creepy looking.. especially at night. You really cant take pictures.. too dark, they come about blurry. We got out around 11:30 or so... and the line for people to get into the attraction was wrapped around the bldg & around the block. If the manager of Jacks Firehouse has not brought us up front.. we would have had to wait in that line. Those people probably didnt get in until 2am. We had no trouble getting the shuttle back.. because most of the people were still waiting to get in.
I wouldnt do the dinner pkg I dont think. Its $60 per person $30/attraction $30 dinner. but it doesnt include drinks. 4 sodas & 1 coffee was $32. They didnt break down how much each cost.. and Im wondering now if we ended up with someone elses bill. That just seemed a bit steep for me. They add 20% gratuity on top.. as a suggestion.. but since the guy took us right to the front of the line.. we gave that much.. it was worth it. I would have never waited in that line. And the food was not all that great really. I had the ribs, half of them was very good.. the other half.. Im not even sure it was the same thing. I didnt eat the other half.
All in all it was fun & I would go to it again.. but Saturday night.. at this time of year it can get very busy & you will have a long wait. I would probably book the earliest start time (7am) and get there way before even though they tell you not to.

Thank Yankeefan26
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis, Indiana
1 review
“well worth the wait in the rain”
Reviewed October 6, 2009

I enjoyed this experience with my grandson (18) and granddaughter (16) on Sept. 26th, 2009. The history, the building itself, and the fact we did the night time Halloween experience, I felt it was worth every minute. We got inside the prison at 11:30 PM, it was great! Next time I'm going in the day time, so I actually see it in a different light.

Thank slowleak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
50 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“educational and entertaining for most ages”
Reviewed September 27, 2009

We were in Philadelphia visiting our son, now a college senior. At 10 hours from our home, we will likely not be back again except for graduation, so we were looking for some worthy sites to visit this last time. We (2 adults, 2 young adult Penn students, 1 eight year old) visited this attraction based on the reviews and are so glad we did! It was highly educational, historical and entertaining for our broad age and interest range. We learned a tremendous amount about the history of the penal system in this country and much about this penitentiary specifically. You will leave with lots of thought about what constitutes and what works regarding rehabilitation of a criminal. The audio tour is well done and allows one to stop and start as desired. I would highly recommend arriving as close to opening time as possible and allowing several hours for this attraction to take advantage of the entire audio tour, the scheduled specialty tours (free after the standard admission) and the small museum near the gift shop. Our almost nine year old is highly inquisitive and was not bored by this site or overwhelmed by the content. The audio tour is set up so she could access what was of interest and didn't have to access all the available content. If your children are not suited for museum visits of more than 2 hrs, I would suggest waiting until they are a little older so you can take your time with it. I believe those under age 7 are not admitted. Be sure your students bring their college IDs for the student discount and you can get a discount coupon for the adult admission from the website. Using the discounts and making the most of our visit time, we considered the price of admission well worth the visit.

2 Thank 59greatbooks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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