Pope’s Visit Halts ‘Terror Behind the Walls’ at Eastern State Penitentiary

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Haunted houses don't really seem like the Pope's scene -- that's why a famous Philly landmark and tourist site will shut down when he's in town.

Eastern State Penitentiary's popular "Terror Behind the Walls" haunted house will close during the Holy Father's visit to Philadelphia in September.

Although the site of the event is within the area affected by road closures, Eastern State Penitentiary decided in early July, before the security perimeter was announced, to close the event on September 25 and 26.


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If the event were to go on, Eastern State Penitentiary would have had to shuttle both staff and visitors from the Philadelphia Zoo to the Penitentiary. 

"Based on the information we had at that time, it seemed very unlikely that we would be able to do that," said Eastern State Penitentiary Marketing Manager Nicole Fox. "We wanted to be proactive and make a decision far enough in advance that our staff could plan appropriately."

Eastern State Penitentiary will lose a fair amount of business due to the closure. Fox said the event is the historic site's single-largest source of revenue every year.

While the company could not disclose attendance figures or exact revenue numbers, Fox said Eastern State Penitentiary is fortunate the World Meeting of Families and Papal visit is taking place early in the season rather than at the end, closer to Halloween.

"If the papal visit were scheduled for Halloween weekend, it would be truly detrimental to the success of Terror Behind the Walls," Fox said.

An extra show night has been set for Monday, October 26 to recoup some of the lost revenue from the weekend of the Papal visit.

"We admit that the World Meeting of Families poses a challenge for us in the short-term, but we also recognize that it’s ultimately beneficial for the City of Philadelphia and, in turn, for Eastern State Penitentiary," Fox said.

You can learn more about Terror Behind the Walls and the event's revised schedule here.

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