Fright nights at haunted prison that housed Al Capone

INMATES are in for an arresting Halloween at a Stateside prison that sets the bars high for fright nights – because you never know what might lie in wait around the corner.

Opened way back in 1829, Philadelphia’s infamous Eastern State Penitentiary housed high-profile criminals including Al Capone until it was closed in 1971 and left derelict to decay.

Now re-opened as a historic site, some 220,000 people pass through the gates of the 30-foot fortress walls each year, and it’s still an intimidating place to visit.

But at night, when the cellblocks and echoing corridors fall into darkness, the penitentiary takes on an eerie atmosphere. Where better to spend a Halloween night?

So from Friday September 23 to November 12, the prison opens late for its annual ‘Halloween Nights’ spooky spectacular, which features no fewer than five haunted house areas.

And, of course, they’re inhabited not just by things that go bump in the might but also things that reach out and grab you. Yes, if you so choose, this is hands-on horror.

Visitors have the choice to “opt in” for a more intense experience.  Those wearing a glow necklace may be grabbed, sent into hidden passageways, and even temporarily separated from their group.

New this year are ‘Nightmares’, where you might meet creatures straight from unsettling dreams and ‘Big Top Terror’, a twisted carnival with menacing characters at every turn.

Visitors can also stop for a drink and a light bite (vampires, take note) at the ‘Bizarre Bar’ where fire dancers, knife throwers, and other acts will be on hand to entertain.

It’s not all scares, however. There’s an area boasting a history highlights audio tour hosted by Hollywood A-lister Steve Buscemi when you want to take a break from the thrills and chills.

Ticket are on sale now at For more information on spooky fun in Philadelphia click here.

Images courtesy Eastern State Penitentiary and by Erin Davies, Bob Watts, Andrew Garn & Randall Wise.

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