When Brett Bertolino joined the staff of the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, a nonprofit prison museum in Philadelphia, he never realized that a big part of his job would be to scare people; Eastern State’s largest fundraiser is the annual Halloween event, Terror Behind the Walls.

When Bertolino began, he was one of only two full time staff members responsible for all of programming at the historic site. In fact, the relatively young organization had only three full time staff members including himself, and none of them were “haunters.” Despite a lack of experience, he soon fell in love with the potential of the event, and cautiously embraced his new role as a haunted attraction operator. He began rethinking every aspect of the event, helping to transform it into a “Massive Haunted House inside a real prison.”

During the next seven years, Bertolino and his colleagues, Sean Kelly, and later Jason Olsen, reinvented their product, added new attractions, and formed strategic marketing partnerships. Through their efforts, attendance increased by more than 300%. What was once a moderately sized, regional event has grown into one of the nation’s largest and most ambitious haunted attractions.

Today, Terror Behind the Walls receives over 70,000 visitors each season, and raises 63% of the annual budget for this true non-profit prison museum. Bertolino, Kelley, and Olsen are joined each night by more than 140 seasonal staff members.

Bertolino is perhaps best known for his dedication to professional haunted attraction operation, as well as for advocating professionalism in the haunted attraction industry, but, despite the success, he still does not consider himself a “haunter.” Although his resume suggests an incredible knowledge of haunting, he believes that there is always more to learn. He constantly rethinks and reevaluates each aspect of the event, and refuses rest on success.

Bertolino will be the keynote speaker on the Frozen Tundra Tour. He will share his insights, experiences, and the lessons he’s learned during the last seven years as a “non-haunter” immersed in a haunters world.

Brett Bertolino is the Assistant Program Director for Operations and Special Events at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc. He is also serves on the Board for the International Association of Haunted Attractions (IAHA) and is the Editor for the Haunted Attraction section of Tourist Attractions and Parks Magazine (TAP). In addition, he has lead seminars on marketing, promotions, haunted attraction operations and ticketing at various tradeshows including Transworld’s Halloween Show (2006) and at HAuNTcon (2005, 2006).

http://www.easternstate.org
http://www.easternstate.org/halloween