Let me just put this out there: I don’t like to be scared. The scariest movie I’ve ever seen is “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” When I’m watching YouTube videos and I can’t skip through an ad preview for a scary film, I scream, mute my computer, and cover my eyes. And I definitely don’t like haunted houses.
When I was in high school, my friends and I organized a (party) bus trip to the big citay to give Eastern State Penitentiary‘s (2027 Fairmount Avenue) Halloween, nighttime attraction, Terror Behind the Walls, a try. It’s been awhile now, but the things I remember include: signing a waiver that I couldn’t touch the zombies, deceased medical patients, etc., holding onto the hands of my group members for dear life, and just being overall terrified.
Since I’ve lived here and have seen how our city’s biggest Halloween attraction transforms Fairmount during the month of October, I had little interest in returning to get voluntarily scared. And yet this year, as soon as the clock struck October, that’s exactly what I did.
Tonight I’m voluntarily going to get scared at @easternstate. Happy October. ??
— Her Philly (@HerPhilly) October 2, 2016
When my date suggested the haunted house as a v fall activity, I explained my hesitation, but thought, Emily, stop being such a hater, and just go. He bought the tickets online (they range from $19-45 each with the $5 online discount) and we arrived at our specified time. You start by getting in one of many lines. I was really amazed at the Disney-like operation. They shuffle you along from place to place in such an organized manner, you don’t even realize the amount of time you’re waiting (our start-to-end excursion was about 2 hours).
Once you get inside, you have to make a very big decision, so listen up. You can opt for two different experiences: one where the people can touch you and separate you from your group, and one where they can’t (but, as I learned, they’ll get as physically close to you as possible). I, obviously, did not opt for the touching experience (which involves you wearing a glow necklace to show you’re into being faux-assaulted, which you can conveniently take off at any time), but the 75 year old man and woman in front of us (I am not kidding) DID. You can also opt to get a swab of “blood” on your cheek, I’ll let you guess if I let that happen. Here’s a video that shows a little about what those opt-ed in humans choose to endure.
2016 Season of Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary from Terror Behind the Walls on Vimeo.
As you journey into the six different rooms (think: infirmary, machine shop, etc.), be prepared for a lot of trippy, insane, and twisted sights. There are chainsaws. There are clowns. There are men on stilts which REALLY got me. It seems like it goes on forever, and so even though I still had to sign the waiver, gripped my date’s hand for dear life, and was, truthfully, still terrified, I was impressed. If any of this sounds remotely intriguing to you (you have 7 nights of Halloween-time fun left!), give it a try. And then let me know how it goes, please.
Oh and one more thing, and I don’t even care if I’m spoiling this for people because I feel like I’m saving you: be aware and alert no matter where you are on that freakin block. While you’re in line, after you think you’re finished, when you walk outside on your way to get a freakin cocktail to take the edge off . . . people are waiting to scare you at every turn. I’m looking at you, scary man who likes to drop and slide on his knees in front of you on various terrains. Please be aware.