Hey everyone, Cousin Zom is here and glad to be back. Wow what has been going on the past few years, It’s like Logan’s Run meets Soylent Green. The 2000’s is really out there man. I hope for everyone to stay safe and be kind to your fellow living humans. With the well wishes aside, I want to tell all about my experiences and to talk about my visit to The Old Joliet Haunted Prison. In, well, Joliet.
It’s a new haunted house attraction run by the 13th Floor Entertainment Group, which has an established 13th Floor haunted house in Schiller Park (recently relocated from Melrose Park) and the sadly haunt no more House of Torment in Morton Grove. 13th Floor Entertainment Group has locations in eight other states, and range from haunted houses, escape rooms, axe throwing. And host some seasonal experiences at a select locations.
We parked in the gravel lot that is right next to the attraction, bonus points!!! No charge for parking and you don’t have to worry about Lincoln Towing taking your ride. When walking up to the ticket booth you are noticing the black and white striped storage containers creating a perimeter which was a little different, until you notice once inside they house a double duty for a merch booth, bar, and even a mini escape room. This is all in the general plaza area where you will see port-o-johns and the entrance queue to the first part of the attraction, The Ghost Chamber.
Entering the facility gives you that feeling, the feeling like you’re not really supposed to be here. Right as you are wandering the entryway you are immediately in a lab and confronted by the various experiments on the creation of souls being ripped from their mortal hosts. The subjects of course are the prisoners left over before the government shutdown. You are making your way across the prison building and grounds. Traversing through corridors passing cells of the once empty prison but seems to be no longer vacant.
And this my friends, is no one show pony, upstairs to the second floor hovering above the path last walked along the catwalk. It seems like an episode of Night Gallery being surrounded by what’s possibly remaining of the once human prisoners. Coming down from the upper level cells there seems no end as you keep moving past where the warden can be found as he’s surveying the creatures roaming the floor. One last breach into the quiet room to catch your breath.
You made the walking journey, now it’s time to fight your way out of The Forsaken. Welcome to the yard, here’s your gun, get to the egress. Sounds simple right? Well the yard is inhabited with the unfortunate animated bodies of the not so chosen. Don’t get caught with your ammo cartridge empty, you can always use more ammo….
So summing up the experience at the Old Joliet Haunted Prison, which is now the commercial nomenclature of this structure which is the more modern section of Joliet Prison East and Old Joliet Women’s Prison. Located at 401 Woodruff Rd Joliet, Ill. Directly across the very famous (or would it be infamous) Stateville Prison (also the filming location for the films White Heat and Roger Touhy, Gangster. It’s too bad they could have shot more films in such a unique location..) Insert record scratch audio right here. So not to be confused with the simmler named Statesville haunt attraction found 3 miles northwest and over the Desplaines River, found at Cottonwood Farms. Or the newly built still operational maximum security facility. Ok, can we get back to the story without the inner monologue?? Yes, you are walking past the old limestone building built in 1896 and it makes for an impressive backdrop. But the section the haunt occupies was built in 1980 for the overflow of prisoners at Joliet Prison East.
Enough with the history lesson, OK? So the Old Joliet Haunted Prison is just that, they built a maze inside this 150 year old building. The design team did a fantastic job especially as soon and you start to go in. The use of scrims, projectors and lighting all come together to tell you this visual story. The use of the prison cells and floor were thought out well. I’m sure given structural limits they had some guidelines to keep but overall use of the second floor balcony and use of the cells for actors and animatronics all in the black and white stripes really put it all together in one awesome package. Looking around it’s hard to keep the concept that you are inside a once functional prison. The actors did a great job, there were fewer than I expected and many of them did great double duity, yes I am taking in consideration the haunt actor shortage of 2021 so I’m really excited and expecting this prison to overflow in 2022 with warm living bodies like it did in the bulidings past. line actors were really trucking from place to place, the queue lines were not full or backed up so they had to search for their prey.
The second half in the Forsaken section was definitely unexpected and different. You are handed an IR equipped gun, you are to wander and defend yourself from the murdering hordes that now shuffle about aimlessly. This area was not as detailed in set design and had far fewer actors than the building. We had a nice dry night for the event, I’m not too sure how it would fare during inclement weather. As nice as the team was that handed you the weapon, there was not really a lot of instruction on what you had to do, I mean just point the business end at things you want to die. I ran out of ammo quickly. Gregula did try to slaughter my undead brothers so I had to intervene. Watching a zombie and a vampire try to kill each other by shooting bullets using a gun, pointless… pro tip if your magazine runs dry and out of bang bang zooms there is a thumb button on the handguard. The maze in the courtyard did have a nice winding path and the actors there did stay true when being shot laying limp and hitting the ground. Watch your step there are some obstructions and corners you may not quite be as obvious. Leaving the area we returned to where it had all begun, there we saw a quick 5 minute escape room, a merch booth and the Commissary where adult beverages can be found and consumed. It’s always best to try their offerings after visiting the haunt, where you can talk with friends and compare your notes about your experiences.
Seeing this is the first year The Old Joliet Haunted Prison has been open I would like to see what’s in store for future years. Looks like a lot of thought and work has been put into this location. Depending on the date you go general admission can be from $19.99 to $29.99. Get your tickets early and online, there is a surcharge of $1 if buying the same day and a $3 charge when purchasing tickets onsite. If you want to add fast pass (about a third less of wait time) you can add another sawbuck, and skip the line you can add another $20 to the base ticket price. And for you high rollers out there there is the platinum VIP experience. For $99 you get the skip the line, free souvenir photo, free escape room game, free drink, 10% off merch and a smooch from Farrah Fawcett, ok I added the last one, well a zombie can dream can’t he? And for the ladies, we can throw in Burt Reynolds, sound fair? Had a great time there and a real difference was experiencing a haunted house built inside a real prison.
The Old Joliet Haunted Prison gets 3 out of 5 Brains.
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