Looking for a fright tonight?

Philadelphia is full of historic landmarks, but only one of them is turned into a haunted house every year. Two Waltonian reporters worked up the courage this year to visit this haunted house and bring back a review. It’s very much like the sports column “Two guys go to a volleyball game” except the “two guys who went to a haunted house” are much braver and could easily beat up the two guys who went to a volleyball game. Anyway:

When the duo first walked into Eastern State Penitentiary, they were impressed by the historical significance of the haunted house. Jay saw this as his opportunity to share a fun fact he’d been learning at school. “You know, Tyler, Alexis de Tocqueville came to America from France mostly because he was interested in studying this very prison.” But Tyler didn’t care. He was more focused on the psychopath (possibly an actor) running around the courtyard scaring people in the ticket line.

Aside from scaring the heck out of you, Eastern State Penitentiary also seeks to educate visitors on the prison itself. After the haunted house, visitors can tour an exhibit on the historical functions the prison served (for example, in the mid 19th century, it served the function of: prison). The haunted house was also a personal learning experience of sorts. Innately inside all of us there are certain words that come out only when we’re suddenly scared. Eastern State does a good job at eliciting these words from your heart.
On the way into the first section, Tyler pointed out a sign with a few simple rules: No running, no touching the props, and no profanity. “Well that won’t be very hard to follow,” Jay thought. But then something happened that made them both say the same four-letter word really loud: a man was waving scissors at them and telling them they needed to be shaved.
After they both made it out alive, they lingered in the courtyard, reminiscing on their experience so they’d have quotes to put in their review.

“They did a good job about building suspense. That, and I never knew when something was just a prop or when it was going to lunge at my throat. It really does a good job of freakin’ you out,” was Jay’s report. He was right, especially about that last bit. Upon leaving the haunted house, a woman emerged from an alley and walked slowly towards the duo. “Ahhh,” Jay remarked as he pointed at the phantom. As it turns out, she wasn’t a real ghost, but just a local woman walking her dog.

Tyler was a little more critical: “I was impressed with how they made it in 3-D. I mean, it’s an innovative idea, but since the world’s 3-D, it doesn’t seem like you really need glasses to look at it.” What Tyler was talking about was a point in the haunted house when they issued out 3-D glasses and walked you through a maze. Tyler was scared in that maze, he just didn’t want to say it out here in front of everyone. But the “haunted forest” surrounding the buildings hardly phased him. “As an environmental studies major, I wasn’t scared of the haunted trees,” he remarked. “I was scared for the trees.”

We also asked some people at the prison about their night. “It was cool,” said 14-year-old Sammy. “Anything else you want to add?” Tyler asked. “No, it was cool.” Since 14-year old Sammy wasn’t much for conversation, we decided to interview a zombie inmate wandering about the courtyard. “So, uh, what’s it like being an inmate here?” Jay asked the man with half a face. “Urgggggggh,” was his unhelpful response. So if you’re looking for a night somewhere between “cool” and gargling noises, consider stopping by one of Philadelphia’s historic landmarks-the haunted landmark, that is.

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