Terror Behind the Walls Review 9/20/19
6 Attractions (Infirmary, Machine Shop, Blood Yard, Lockdown, Quarantine 4D, Breakout) Overall Haunted Attraction Rating: 7/10 Acting Overall: 7/10 Costumes/Makeup Overall: 7/10 Entertainment On Lines: 7/10 Food Options Overall: 7/10 Set Design Overall: 8/10 Props & Animatronics Overall: 8/10
Extreme Experience and Regular Admission Available
If you opt in for the “Extreme Experience” you get a glow stick and a bloody “X” mark on your face. This signifies that you can and WILL be touched, grabbed, removed from your group, asked to complete horrifying tasks of all sorts, etc. This is definitely the more extreme version, you do not have to choose this option to go through the haunt.
For your reference: Parking is SUPER expensive. This was opening night and we parked in the lot closest to the building. Event parking was $27. We are not sure if this price will continue to increase throughout the season, or not. There is separate parking for Terror behind the walls, but it is much further. Terror Behind the Walls parking is located at The Philadelphia Zoo’s new parking garage at 3500 W. Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104. A Ghost Bus shuttle will take you from the zoo to the penitentiary and back. Plan to arrive at the Ghost Bus parking lot 30 minutes before the time listed on your ticket. Parking is $20 at the box office, or $13 if you purchase online in advance. The buses loop every show night from 6 pm until 30 minutes past the last tour. Cars and vans no taller than 8 ft, 2 in may park at the Ghost Bus parking lot.
I would plan to arrive as early as possible. This evening in particular was their opening night and the line was VERY long. We had the “Quick Pass” which saved us from waiting in the long line before entering the Penitentiary. The quick pass also bypassed us through the exceptionally long line inside, leading to the first haunt. You will still need to go through the same security check as everyone else, and the “Quick Pass” only gets you through the first two lines. You will need to wait on line the rest of the evening, but the lines were not as bad as the first two. Just be aware, getting a quick pass does not ensure you will not have to wait in any lines.
Since it was opening night, it is important to mention that this is the night when Haunters establish all the kinks that still need to be worked out, in real time. Opening night is a time for mistakes to happen, actors to get their flow going, props, animatronics, and special effects to go hay wire; among many other unforeseeable issues. With this being said, For opening night; They truly did a great job.
We arrived at Terror Behind the Walls on Friday Sept 19th, around 7:30pm. For an opening night, the crowd was surprisingly large! Luckily, we had our quick passes so we skipped the large line out in the front and went straight through to security. The security guards were doing an excellent job making sure everyone was safe! Once through the security check we took a quick photo op and began to head on through to our first stop. Before getting into the next line which leads into the main attraction you go through a quick rules and explanation skit. The actress was really fun, and had a great time engaging the crowd. This introduction took about 5 minutes, and then we were off to wait on our first line to enter “Lockdown”. We were on the quick pass side of the line, So we didn’t wait too long. After about 5 minutes of looking around and taking pictures, it was our turn to begin the walk to the attraction. You follow a spooky windy path, which leads to your final pit stop before you begin your journey. This is where your fate is decided. Do you choose the glow necklace and opt in for the “extreme” experience or do you play it safe? Of course we chose the necklaces and asked them to slather on a super bloody “X” to our cheeks. *Just a Heads up* The blood is super sticky and made from corn syrup – if you have an allergies steer clear of the blood, you can just wear the glow stick if you choose the extreme option. The “Blood” was very runny until it settled on our cheeks, It got caught in my hair pretty badly and knotted it up so just be careful ladies & gents; wear your hair up! It’s a super pain to get out of your hair!
Lockdown: Actors: 8/10 Makeup/Costumes: 7/10 Use of Props & Animatronics: 8/10 Set Design: 8/10 Overall Attraction Rating: 8 /10
Rioting zombie inmates have taken over, and zombie guards have lost control. The tables have turned.” There were several parts In Lockdown where Inmates got very aggressive and forceful with me, which personally I like for my extreme experiences. I was shoved into a tiny compartment and choked by a Zombie Inmate. I would say this was the highlight of my experience in this section. One thing I would say is, It was very hard to tell when this attraction ended and the next one started. There were some fun jump scares, and some really awesome props and animatronics in this section.
Machine Shop: Actors: 7/10 Makeup/Costumes: 7/10 Use of Props & Animatronics: 7/10 Set Design: 7/10 Overall Attraction Rating: 7 /10
“Hidden deep inside the cell blocks is a long-forgotten machine shop. Evil pervades this space – an evil with one mind but with many bodies.” Machine Shop was filled with many unique props and animatronics that I had never seen in other haunts before. This is a highly steam punk influenced attraction. A lot of “extreme” interactions were happening in this particular haunt. Matt and I were separated from one another 2-3 times. I was sent down a slide and had to crawl my way out of a few hidden passage ways. This attraction was a lot of fun!
Blood Yard Actors: 8/10 Makeup/Costumes: 7/10 Use of Props & Animatronics: 8/10 Set Design: 8/10 Overall Attraction Rating: 8 /10
“The carnage sends a clear message: You could be next.” Blood yard takes place outdoors in the courtyard of Eastern State. The attractions weave in and out of a tight narrow pathway, through an aging greenhouse and through several small buildings. This particular attraction has a “Sacrificial” sort of feeling to it. A one point myself, along with a group of random individuals were called up to perform a “satanic ritual”. We stood around a fountain with our hands in the air and our eyes closed while the actors had us chanting, over and over. I was then “chosen” and removed from my group to be sent through a hidden passageway where I ventured into the rest of the attraction on my own. This was a lot of fun. The sets were fun to look at, the scares were engaging and the skits were well put together!
Infirmary Actors: 9/10 Makeup/Costumes: 8/10 Use of Props & Animatronics: 9/10 Set Design: 9/10 Overall Attraction Rating: 9 /10
“Infirmary takes the fear of hospitals to a whole new level. In this newly revamped and highly interactive attraction, you’ll encounter maniacal surgeons, dentists & nurses who are sharpening their scalpels for some unusual, unnatural operations.” This was by FAR our absolute favorite attraction! For those of you who choose the “Extreme” experience Infirmary has A LOT up there sleeve waiting for you. The actors were amazing; The one gentleman in particular who led us in and acted out our first extreme skit was PHENOMENAL. He was creepy, hilarious, all while being very proper and respectful. He led me and several others into a cell which was pitch black. He told us to face the wall in a line, if we were comfortable “we were not doing it right”. From there he began to tell us of how we were contaminated; infected so to speak. He began a disinfecting process, and “shock Therapy” Don’t worry you are not actually shocked during this section (at least not during our time there). He turned us around, only to shine a light in our eyes. He was examining us to see who was the most “infected”. Of course, it was Me. He grabbed my hand and began to lead me out into the hallway where an old rusty stretcher with a nurse was waiting for me. I was instructed to hop on, and that I needed to be rushed to surgery. I was completely strapped in, head, arms, chest, mid-section, legs and feet. I could not move! The rest of our group came out of the cell and were instructed to grab the sides of the stretcher; they needed to assist the nurse in bringing me to the Infirmary. The Male actor kept screaming for everyone to get out of the way and for the group to make sure they stayed to the right. They began pulling the stretcher very fast down this long hallway, where other customers without glow necklaces were already walking through. The speed continued to grow faster and at certain points we hit large bumps and the stretcher lost control a bit (all on purpose) and it was truly SO MUCH FUN. When we reached the end of the hall way, I was given a hand to get down and we were sent on our way into the next section. This was JUST the beginning. This Attraction was very well put together. There were a lot of engaging sections where “extreme” scenes and skits were acted out. My partner and I were pulled into a room with a doctor and a nurse who asked us to put the pieces of a dismembered human body, back together. The lights and sound effects were going off while we rushed to put the pieces back together. I was grabbed by the doctor after a minute and he pulled out his bone saw, where he told me I needed to give him a new hand. The saw looked extremely real. He then attempted to cut my arm off. It was a lot of fun! We also witnessed several customers getting “tortured” but other actors with “needles” and things of that nature! One section in particular, had an actor with a severed finger in a bowl with blood. Of course the actor grabs my hand and pulls me alongside a window, where they put my hand in this bloody bowl, make me grab the finger and attempt to write on the walls with the blood. AGAIN, this is Corn syrup. I personally have a TERRIBLE sticky phobia. It was the worst feeling in the world. It was all over my right hand and slightly on my forearm. It made going through the rest of the attractions pretty difficult. Anytime I would touch something I would get stuck. At this point several others had run ins with the blood so the sticky reminisce was left in all kinds of places. It was a sticky Nightmare. It truly upped the scare factor though.
QUARANTINE 4D Actors: 5/10 Makeup/Costumes: 5/10 Use of Props & Animatronics:4/10 Set Design: 5/10 Overall Attraction Rating: 5/10
“Flat walls appear to have depth, creatures emerge from (seemingly) nowhere, and some brave visitors will be challenged to face their worst fears.”Quarantine 4D is a typical “3D” styled haunt, with fluorescent paint and cardboard glasses. The paint tends to create the illusion of dimension as you’re walking through the attraction. The Sets and props seem to come out of the walls so drastically. While the concept in itself sounds good on paper, It is very hard to execute this sort of attraction in a manner that doesn’t come off as cheesy. Most of these 3D haunts end up looking and feeling the same after a while, originality is hard to come by. There were a few scenes which did stand out to me, but other than that, I could have done without this attraction all together.
Breakout Actors: 5/10 Makeup/Costumes: 5/10 Use of Props & Animatronics: 6/10 Set Design: 7/10 Overall Attraction Rating: 6/10
“Inmates surround you using every way imaginable to escape. Keep an eye out at every corner, as inmates may even be using YOU to aid in their attempt to gain freedom.” Breakout starts out as a lot of fun. It’s set up like an obstacle course, meets a maze at first glance, and that is for very good reason. While walking through this haunt there was a lot of fog and strobe lights. While you would be walking minding your business, an actor would see you, grab you and throw you down a hidden passage which would ultimately redirect you to a different part of the attraction. Within the first 5 minutes in the haunt, the same actor had grabbed me and sent me down the same passage way several times – spitting me out right to the beginning again, luckily I dodged him the second time but the very next section where an actor could be I was grabbed once again and sent through a second passage way which ultimately led me to the front again, and past the actor who kept spitting me out to the front. He tried to send me through a sixth time, and I said “HELL NO” and began to run, he chased me for a second screaming get back here; but I was over it at that point. I did whatever I could to not get noticed by an actor. My hand was still full of sticky blood & crawling on the floor or being smashed up against a tight wall in a squish tent was the last thing I wanted to do; over and over again. I managed to get myself close to the end of the haunt where I was then, grabbed by an actor and thrown into a tube. I was locked in the tube, it was turned and once again I was spit out towards to front of the haunt. I ran my way past all the actors and finally got to the exit again where the same actor tried to put me in the tube again, I literally begged him to let me go. He decided to spare me. Thankfully, that was the end. This haunt has the potential to be fun, but maybe since it was opening night the crowd control wasn’t as good and it became too repetitive. It turned from fun to obnoxious.
Once the attractions end, You exit the haunts and enter their “mid way” section. This is where you can find a food truck, a photo booth where you can purchase the picture from your photo op, and a very large and amazing gift shop! We ended up purchasing our photo for $20. It was the cheapest option they had, for 1 photo. We also ended up purchasing a “Teddy Scares” Teddy Bear to add to our collection of creepy dolls & spooky toys! Before we left for the evening we were able to see the Terror Behind the Walls dance crew put on a show for the customers In the midway. They did a great job!
If you are interested in doing any add on experiences during your time at Terror behind the walls – Here are 2 options you can check out:
1. After Dark VIP Tour - Your evening begins with an hour-long, guided flashlight walking tour of the penitentiary. You'll learn about the history of Eastern State, including some of its famous riots, escapes, and other scandalous incidents. Highlights may include the cellblocks, underground punishment cells, and the Operating Room. Following the tour, you will be escorted to the front of the Terror Behind the Walls lines and experience all six haunted attractions. Remember your evening with a souvenir photo of your group and a Terror Behind the Walls LED flashlight (included in ticket price). Tickets available exclusively online
2. The Speakeasy - After experiencing Terror Behind the Walls, you can extend your visit at The Speakeasy at Al Capone's Cell. Live entertainment includes a lounge singer, contortionist, and table games. You can also enjoy a complimentary Yards beer, glass of wine, or Coca-Cola soft drink. Ticket add-on available online or at the door. Enjoy your very own private lounge cell inside The Speakeasy at Al Capone's cell! Kick up your feet and sip a cocktail as you enjoy some live singing. Rentals begin at $20, so you can live like a big spender without breaking the bank. Lounge cell rentals are 30 minutes and can accommodate up to six guests. Speakeasy admission required for entry. Private lounge cell rentals available in person only, subject to availability. Not sold online.
Overall, Terror Behind the walls has really improved from a few years back. The Actors were much more consistent. The Sets and props were unique and engaging. There was a lot less bare space than there used to be. This Haunt used to be a least favorite of ours several years back but they really did step it up and change our minds this year! It was a lot of fun, and the scare factor has certainly been improved from 2-4 years ago! We truly enjoyed our time at Terror Behind The Walls! If you’re looking for a spooky time in Philly this Haunting Season, Definitely stop by and pay them a visit!