What’s new at Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls

Jenny Tomczak is a zombie at Terror Behind the Walls. Credit: Eastern State Penitentiary
Jenny Tomczak is a zombie at Terror Behind the Walls.
Credit: Eastern State Penitentiary

This year, they’re changing the rules.

For the first time in Terror Behind the Walls history, visitors to Eastern State Penitentiary’s famed haunted house can choose their own adventure. Tour the museum attraction that’s named among the best in the world for all its gory glory, or opt for the scarier path and be pulled into a dark corridor, grabbed by brain-hungry zombie or forced to run from knife-wielding clowns.

Yikes.

“We actually had to scale back so we don’t scare people too much,” admits Amy Hollaman, creative director for Terror Behind the Walls.

Hollaman and her team decided this was the year to turn things up a notch. They visited other haunted houses and brainstormed on the paranoia of scare—things besides blood and guts, like bugs, snakes and claustrophobic spaces.

“There are delusions happening,” Hollaman says. “People are confused. You can’t tell what’s human and what’s not. All of a sudden, there might be a clown waiting with a knife.”

But don’t worry, zombie lovers. The undead still roam the former prison’s walls. Jennifer Tomczak makes sure of that. Starting her 10th year, Tomczak is head zombie guard.

“There’s nothing like that moment,” she says, “that one moment of fear you see in a visitor’s eyes. It’s that one moment when they realize there’s a gruesome zombie standing before them. There’s nothing quite like it.”

An insurance professional by day, Tomczak, and more than 200 others, are transformed by a team of 14 costume and makeup artists into sickening creatures that scare the living daylights out you each year for 29 evenings. The hour-long show goes thorugh six attractions including the gauntlet, the infirmary and right into the prison’s cells.

“It’s the perfect setting,” says Hollaman. “Eastern State Penitentiary is only right here in Philadelphia. There’s nowhere like it in the world.”

Safe word: Monster be good

Chose the scarier path and worried you might wet your pants in fear? You can opt out at any point. Just hand off the zombie-attracting GPS tracking device you were given and the brain-eaters will leave you alone. And, as always, kids can say “Monster be good” and the actors will slink away.

“The show is definitely going to be scarier,” Hollaman says, “but we still have the level of professionalism and care.”

Terror Behind the Walls
Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Ave.
Through Nov. 9
$13-$39, 215-236-2985
www.easternstate.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Girl, 10, dies after being pulled from water…

A 10-year-old girl died after being pulled from the waters off Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, police said.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.