Philly born and raised, not to mention a fan of all things frightening, a Philadelphia Halloween is something I hold very near and dear. There are few things I love more than walking centuries-old streets, goosebump-ridden and cowering from local ghost stories. Or wending my way through a creepified corn maze, or doing battle with the zombie undead, or screaming my face off at an old prison.
Yep, Halloween in Philly is special and I can’t wait. Actually, I’m already celebrating. Most of these events begin in early October, so you can get your fear on as early as tonight. What are you waiting for, scaredy cat?
Terror Behind the Walls (Eastern State Penitentiary)
If you’ve ever visited the Eastern State Penitentiary during daylight hours, you know it’s a fairly eerie place. Luckily, that’s nothing compared to Terror Behind the Walls, the old prison’s annual Halloween event that features 6 terrifying attractions, 200 professional performers, animatronics, custom soundtracks, and professional sets. There’s a reason this massive haunted house is consistently ranked as one of the top Halloween attractions in the entire United States.
Fright Fest (Six Flags Great Adventure)
If you’re willing to drive a bit out of town for some serious scares, you can’t miss Six Flag Great Adventure’s Fright Fest in Jackson, NJ (about a 90-minute drive). Fright Fest is open all day, but the adventure gets truly frightening after dark, when the ghosts come out to haunt terror trails, haunted shows, and ride-in-the-dark roller coasters.
The Valley of Fear
The Valley of Fear: where only the bravest enter and only the luckiest survive. Dun dun duuuuuun! Located in nearby Feasterville (Bucks County), this super-scary attraction is actually four fears rolled into one: a haunted hayride, Underworld (haunted forest walk), zombie escape maze, and Operation Z: a live zombie paintball hunt.
HorrorFest (Shadybrook Farm)
Do you dare enter America’s “most haunted farm,” where the annual HorrorFest promises myriad repulsions? Among them, the Hayride of Horror, Barn of Horror, Alien 3-D Encounter, and Carnage, a maze of horror tainted with blood, guts and gore.
The kid in us cowers (with delight) at the thought of Camp Spookynaw, America’s most haunted camp. It may not be summer anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend a night (though not overnight) at camp – in this case, a camp full of dragons, supernatural what-nots, and frights. Don’t miss Cabin 13, a maze of nightmares, and the Shriek of Scarecrows, a terrorific hayride.
Only fear fans need apply. Fright Factory is Philly’s scariest haunted house, and it’s really no joke: housed in a 100+ year-old factory, the setting is rife with dark and solitary passages, creepy corners, and plenty of old shafts where you could lose your life. Billed as a “high-startle” haunted house, this one’s not for the faint of heart.
Is there anything creepier than an old asylum? Don your bravado and head out to the Pennhurst Asylum, where some say the dilapidated halls and crumbling rooms are legitimately haunted. Weave your way through the labyrinth known as the Dungeon of Lost Souls, then test your mettle in the Tunnel of Terror and Ghost Hunt (you’re searching for honest-to-goodness real ghosts – seriously).
There are some things you can’t ever un-see, and That Scene from Psycho is definitely one of them. Get your killer on at Philly’s very own Bates Motel – one of Travel Channel’s scariest haunts in the U.S. – and live the fear in the haunted hotel, through the haunted corn maze, and on the haunted hay ride. There’s a lot of haunting going on here.
The above list isn’t everything, of course! There are ghost walking tours, flashlight-guided walks through creepy museums and old libraries, haunted cruise ships, and so much more. What’s your favorite Philly Halloween attraction?