As Halloween approaches, the people of Philadelphia are dusting off their witch hats and jack-o-lanterns and hitting the town for some festive entertainment. Philadelphia is one of the oldest cities in the country which has helped it become a prime location for daring ghost hunters and thrill-seekers to explore. If you’re looking to do something outside the realm of trick-or-treating, check out the best Halloween attractions in Philadelphia this year.
Eastern State Penitentiary
The Eastern State Penitentiary was once an 11-acre prison housing criminals like William “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone. The founders had Quaker-inspired beliefs that solitary confinement along with labor could conform criminals.
A tour through the Eastern State Penitentiary takes you through historic cellblocks including Al Capone’s restored nineteenth-century cell. You will also be regaled with exciting stories of inmate escapes.
The Terror Behind the Walls tour was introduced in 2013 and gives visitors the option to be fully immersed in the action to be grabbed, held back, or taken into hidden passageways.
One attention-grabbing attraction is the Machine Shop, where visitors are led deep into cellblocks that haven’t been previously open to the public for an ultra-terrifying experience.
Terror Behind the Walls features special effects, lighting, digital sound, animatronic creatures, and custom props. There are over 200 performers in six separate attractions within the complex.
Pennhurst Asylum is a hospital-themed attraction located at the original Pennhurst State School and Hospital located on the upper floors of the old administration building that dates back over a hundred years. It houses many props, high-tech animatronics, digital sound, and live actors.
The Pennhurst State School opened in 1908 and was operated for 60 years until allegations of mistreatment surfaced. As allegations were proven true, the school was abandoned. As legend goes, one of the brain surgeons, Dr. Chakajian, began performing experiments on corpses of people who had given their bodies to science. Eventually, these experiments expanded to include live inmates from Eastern European prisons. These experiments included unproven drugs, new medical procedures, and even open brain surgery techniques. One night a fire broke out and inmates took over the asylum. Dr. Chakajian was killed and some of the inmates were left to die. It is said that their ghosts, as well as those of Dr. Chakajian and his staff, haunt the deserted asylum to this day.
The Dungeon of Lost Souls is a labyrinth of “human experiments that have gone horribly wrong,” and the Tunnel Terror is a 900-foot-long gauntlet beneath the grounds of the old State School. The final attraction, called Ghost Hunt, is a self-guided tour of the most haunted location on campus where tours are conducted only by flashlight.
Ghost Tour of the Olympia
The USS Olympia, located on the Delaware River at Penn’s Landing, was first commissioned in 1895 and was said to be haunted ever since. Ghost hunters have been drawn to the Olympia for over 100 years, including the Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters and the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures.
Within the ship, you’ll find a labyrinthine interior full of disappearing apparitions, ghostly voices, and unexplained paranormal activity. On the Ghost Tour, you’ll be led through three eerie decks that include the captain’s cabins, galley, sick bay, and the area notorious for the ship’s most famous ghost, “Gunner” Johnson.
So this Halloween, don’t be afraid to experience all the spooky adventures that Philadelphia has to offer.