Ghost hunt in a prison tours: Part history, part chills, even in daylight

May is the month that kicks off the full season of the Ohio State Reformatory tours. This prison that played centerpiece to the movie Shawshank Redemption is a Gothic style stone building that looks formidable even in daylight. At night it can really creep a person out. Known for its chilling location as a Halloween haunted house, the reformatory is a ghost hunter’s dream.

As the story goes, the reformatory that once housed wayward boys is haunted by some former inmates who haven’t left. They wander the halls. Although there may be other prisons with ghosts, Alcatraz seems fitting, in my opinion, the Ohio State Reformatory is the only one that offers an overnight tour package.

That’s right. People on the tour get to stay at the prison all night long to look for paranormal activity. Not only are people allowed to stay all night, they can walk around on their own. Tour guides are on hand to answer questions and tell about the prison history, but other than that, feel free to poke around without them. Unfortunately, the tours are sold out for this season, however, there are many other opportunities to tour the prison in daylight. This is something to keep in mind for next year. Put it on your calendar to call for next year’s dates as to not miss out. Planning ahead is warranted. You have to be 21 and over for the ghost hunt experience.

There are days that don’t sell out in advance. May through September, the prison is open for tours on Sundays, and starting on June 2 daily tours are available Tuesday through Friday at 2 p.m.

The Sunday one-hour tours come in three versions–West Tower Tour, the East Cell Block Tour and the Hollywood Tour. The times for these thematic tours vary and are on a first come first serve basis starting at 1:00. The last tour is at 3:45. These tours are family friendly, although not recommended for under age 7 due to hazards like lead-based paint. Pregnant women may not want to go inside either.

For the price of your ticket, you’re helping to keep history alive because proceeds are rolled into restoration projects. Keeping an 1886 building standing is not cheap. You don’t need to be a ghost hunter to appreciate the prison. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and boasts the world’s largest free-standing steel cell block. Who knew?

By the way, Halloween is sooner than you think. The Halloween tours sell out fast also. Under 13 aren’t admitted.