The Old Joliet Haunted Prison – Full Review

The Old Joliet Haunted Prison is a Haunted Attraction located in Joliet, IL.

401 Woodruff Road, Joliet, IL 60432
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Haunt Type(s):

Multiple HauntsHaunted HouseHaunted MazeHaunted Laser Tag


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Free Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Food/Concessions, Optional Games/Midway, Uncovered Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction

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This attraction was reviewed on October 7, 2023 by Team White City Devils.

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Final Score: 9.04

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What Halloween season wouldn’t be complete without the horrors of Route 171, Archer Ave? Many classic haunting stories exist throughout the long-stretched road, such as the infamous Resurrection Mary. Further south on Route 171 lies Joliet, Illinois, which is home to the Old Joliet Prison, the site of a plethora of executions and some well-known prisoners such as our local killer Pogo the Clown, John Wayne Gacy, and even more important, Joliet Jake and Elwood J Blues, The Blues Brothers in the classic 1980s film.

Old Joliet Haunted Prison lies on one particular branch of the prison system. Its gothic revival architecture glooms over and sets the tone for the coming night. Stepping onto the prison grounds naturally gives a vibe that stays with you, a feeling you try to ignore. The history that these walls have seen speaks volumes throughout and left us uneasy at moments yet impressed throughout our visit!

Cast Score: 8.89

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Cast Review:

Attraction one, CellBlock 13:
The Actors at OJP have to be some of the bravest to spend as much time as they do inside the prison in dark areas and old cells. The CellBlock 13 is the first of three attractions in one ticket purchase. CellBlock 13 actors are plentiful and tend to lurk around every area. Being able to come up with banter when asked a question is always a positive experience. I casually asked an actor, “What are you in [jail] for?” and their response was, “Murder, and I’m willing to add more time to my sentence if you don’t keep moving!” which cleverly got me to put a little pep in my step. I do wish we had more interactions like this, but we did get a majority of screams or growls over dialogue or banter we could go back and forth with. It does amaze me how some of them can stay inside these legitimate cells with no light the way they do. It makes it difficult to tell the difference between props to people at times and adds some tension during the walk-through.

Attraction two, Zombie Laser Tag:
Inside attraction two, we did have a good number of actors popping out from areas and would try to rush us. Each guest is given a laser gun and can shoot around different scenes throughout and tag some zombies. The actors overall responded well to the gimmick and made it a fun and interactive time. There is something particularly charming about shooting a zombie down and watching them squirm and shake when continuously shot at. I cannot say enough about the interactions overall and how much of an enhanced experience this attraction is because of them.

Attraction three: The Slaughterhouse Rot Shop:
The Slaughterhouse Rot Shop is a classic old-school maze with plenty of lurkers around every corner, packing major weapons. The actors here do a good job of scaring through props (mostly chainsaws) and can even corner guests due to not knowing a way out. Other portions of this attraction aren’t a maze but different areas to be in. The actors in this area also provide plenty of jump scares. Some of the areas are a tad difficult to walk through, so it’s pretty great when the actors worked just as hard to scare guests.

Overall, OJP actors have come a long way in a short period, which excites me for the future of this attraction!

Costuming Score: 9.16

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Costuming Review:

Costuming for OJP does fit well with its environment. For example, the Cellblock 13 area has, of course, a jail theme as well as a hospital ward. This invites plenty of prisoner outfits topped with gory wounds and blood spatters as well. There are occasional warden outfits mixed in, too, but it’s clear that the prisoners run the show. Inmate #13 has a caged head that they are trying to escape from and is pretty much the reason for the state of affairs the prison is currently in (more on that in immersion).

Inside Zombie Laser Tag, most of the costuming is zombie-infested creatures. One of the more playful looks happened to be in a portion of the attraction that is a saloon, and the zombies here are dressed appropriately in a bit more Western attire, which is very neat!

In the queue and midway areas, we were greeted by some great-looking characters. String Cheese was bombarded with guests asking for pictures. They have killer makeup and black ooze coming from their mouth (careful to not get smeared with it, because they have no shame in doing so). String Cheese has a straitjacket that’s bloody and tattered. We have witnessed them with their jackets fully on and their arms locked up, and they act with that restriction, which is impressive. One of my favorite looks for queue costumes is the cinder blockhead. They have a prisoner outfit, and their head is incased within a cinder block and rebar, making it a living embodiment of the prison itself. Everything felt appropriate and creative as well!

Customer Service Score: 9.49

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OJP has free parking alongside the property. There are plenty of guides around to help direct guests to the closest spot available. OPJ has plenty of staff on-site able to direct and help with any needs. There is a security checkpoint before heading into the midway area, which is comforting.

There is plenty of information pertinent to visiting online, and OJP is a haunt under the Thirteenth Floor Entertainment attraction, so there are plenty of deals online and tons of social media presence.

Immersion Score: 9.12

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Immersion Review:

The overall Immersion happens as soon as you walk into the gates and are in the old prison yard. At night, the fog covers the menacing-looking prison, with the backlights shining off the barbed-wire fencing. Considering the entire attraction is located within the fences of an actual prison, immersion plays a big role in OJP.

A gentle reminder that Cellblock 13 is within the actual prison, so it’s easy to get lost in the environment. The storyline *spark notes* behind this attraction (only one of three with a storyline) is Inmate #13 was falsely imprisoned as a cover-up for the Warden’s crimes. We get the opportunity of walking through the prison during a riot due to Inmate #13 being forgotten for decades and finally breaking out. We can witness the event during our walk-through. Some of this is portrayed, but there are aspects of the old Ghost Chamber storyline still within the attraction. I don’t believe regular visitors would notice/ care about it, as the SFX from the prior storyline is pretty awesome.

Special FX Score: 9.16

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Special FX Review:

The Special Effects shine during the CellBlock 13 portions of the attractions. Being that this is their main attraction, it would make sense to go all out with effects. The wall illusion is a great example of a cool effect. I enjoyed the idea of unexpected monsters appearing within 4 feet of us instantly. There are plenty of props throughout the prison cells as well that get the strobe light treatment. Some of the scenes are built up to look as though it was original parts of the building, and they fit in very well. The hospital ward is a great example of this, as prisons have medical areas, and it can look as though we are walking through them.

The Zombie Laser Attack portion has different scenes, all of which relate to some sort of gun-slinging style scenario. For example, there is a jungle-like state as well as a Wild West area. While different, they could both relate due to shoot’em up type situations. Speaking of, be sure to stop by the bar area before heading into Attraction 2 and grab a glow stick upgrade. This is the admission cost to spend some time in The Neon Cowboy saloon recently added. It’s a small speakeasy within the attraction that serves Jello shots (sometimes other drinks), and you can hang out for a moment and rest yourself for the rest of the attack.

Slaughterhouse has some classic effects, such as over-fogged rooms with bright white lights. This attraction gives a low-tech classic haunt vibe with more practical effects over high-end props. One of the fun effects here is the 30-degree room. The floor is at least a 30-degree incline, so it’s best to use the handrail provided.

Scare Factor Score: 8.84

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Scare Factor Review:

The overall Scare Factor of OJP is progressing in a positive direction. The Cellblock 13 attraction provides the most scares out of all the attractions. There are plenty of misdirected scares that are easy to fall for, as there is so much to take in. Actors know when is the right opportunity to freak out guests walking through, as well as how to work their scenes. The combination of loud sounds, screaming prisoners, and gory detailed scenes can leave guests running for the exit.

The Slaughterhouse portion of the haunt provides some scares worth noting. The number of chainsaw actors in one spot is enough for panic to set in, which is a terrible feeling when stuck inside a maze. I think the setting for the zombie laser tag is not as scary as the other two attractions but rather offers a different experience in a welcomed, fun way!

Entertainment & Value Score: 8.98

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E&V Review:

We found our walkthrough time for all three attractions to be just near the 26-minute mark. With a $29-dollar general admission price, it leaves our MPD value at 0.9. With the included add-on of The Neon Cowboy experience, it could easily add a few extra minutes to the laser tag portion.

Overall, this is an excellent value considering the production is high-end, not to mention the experience of seeing the inside of a historic prison. Pairing this with the food truck on-site and some midway games available makes for an evening full of scares and fun!

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Pics We Took From Our Visit:

Guest Reviews
Guest Average: 3 out of 10

John Doe – 3/10October 14, 2021
There are a lot of attractions in the Lockport area from Statesville to Hells Gate. They each offer …show more their own style of haunted attractions. Joliet haunted prison has yet to really capture its own style. From the beginning it offers the cool exterior of the prison itself. One can imagine the history that has gone on in the building. However the layout for customers to walk through seems to have a lack of outside actors to really keep the immersion. I counted 2 outside actors that were active and many more security that were in plain cloths. As for it being on Thursday I can imagine that staff might be a little low for this time of week. For going inside the attraction itself, it was a little confusing with wide open areas that had little actors or detail. Except of one thing…FOG! There was a ton of fog to help set the mood but I found myself walking inside the set of the movie The Mist. In all seriousness it was an aggressive level of fog that should be used to highlight the experience and have more actors or sets in its place. In the major areas of the attraction it was very condensed just like a prison cell block would be like. In that aspect the prison itself does excel. However navigation through the sets seemed to be very confusing. The cell block that serves as the main area of the haunt is divided up into 2 sections. Where once you walk in you are able to have a top down view of the room on both sides before going down a set of stairs into the facade itself. The props themselves are a mix between mechanical and house made. A lot of the technology seems really cool on first glance but after little bit seemed to be very clustering and tricks the senses in thinking, loud = scary. Overall the main experience was a nice walkthrough of a new haunt that has so much potential to grow and develop its own style. I look forward for The Old Joliet Prison being in of the great Lockport haunts that you got out of your way for. However as of now it’s still got a little more work to do.

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