Legend at Pope Lick
4002 S Pope Lick Road, Louisville, KY 40299View All Details
Free Parking, Restrooms On-Site, You will NOT be touched, Original Characters, Uncovered Outdoor Waiting Line, All-Outdoor Attraction
Team Zombillies reviewed this attraction on September 15, 2017.
Final Score: 8.01
If you’re familiar with the Louisville area haunt scene, then you probably know how many there are and that each of them offer their own flavors of frights. We were beginning to think that, because there are so many, it would be difficult for someone to bring an entirely-new concept to the table that would be fresh and exciting for local Halloween enthusiasts…
The Legend at Pope Lick proved us wrong.
This is a very unique outdoor attraction that embraces a local legend, which is something we don’t see very often. In this case, the story revolves around the legend of the Pope Lick Monster, otherwise known as “Goat Man.” On top of that, the haunt takes place at the most authentic location possible: Pope Lick Park!
The Legend made its debut last year as part of the Danger Run adventure and 2017 marks their first year operating as a stand-alone attraction. Armed with only a single (and very unique) flashlight, we ventured deep into the dark and winding trails, cedar thickets and train wreckage in search of the horned and hooved abomination that continues to draw thrill-seekers from miles away to this day. What we found was unspeakable, but the question is…
“Do you believe in monsters?”
Being as early in the season as it was, some of the actors were still a little rough around the edges. However, we could tell that most of them still had a good understanding of their roles and how they played into the backstory, which really helped turn this legend into a reality.
Colonel Schildknecht (the owner of the circus) welcomed us to the trail and set us out in search of his prized possession (the Goat Man). However, he also warned us that if we crossed paths with it, we should, “…run like Hell!” We then crossed paths with a primitive camper and, as we gathered around his smoldering campfire, he told us more about the folklore surrounding the legend, which really helped get us in the mood for a scary walk through the woods! He also advised us to not look into the beast’s crimson red, glowing eyes. The cult members, circus workers, and sideshow freaks maintained this theme continuity while adding each of their own elements along the way.
The trainer with the whip was a mean one (be on the lookout for her!) and the gorilla sure seemed angry that it had been locked up in its cage for so long! The clown with an English accent was very interactive and the fortune teller had us freaked out after reading our card to us… Let’s just say it’s no wonder why all of the scary stuff was going on out there! Overall, the actors delivered just enough intensity to keep a creepy and foreboding vibe going throughout the haunt… enough to keep the scares going (in a good way), but not so much that the finale wasn’t one of the most intense parts of the show.
The costumes are mostly up to par and work to create a variety of characters at The Legend. Along the way, we encountered a domesticated yeti, a rather large gorilla, other sideshow freaks, a bearded lady, a pumpkin head, hillbillies, clowns, black-cloaked cultists and more.
The makeup we noticed was adequate and added some nice finishing touches to the actors who were wearing it. We got up close and personal with most of them and it seemed that, instead of going for an “over-the-top” or hyper-realistic look, they tended to stick with tamed-down and period-correct applications. Even though they weren’t the most detailed looks we’ve seen, this technique helped make the whole experience seem a bit more down-to-Earth and believable in its own way. The masks we saw were also appropriate for the characters wearing them and seemed to be of good quality. There were also a few that we hadn’t seen used before.
Customer Service: 8.5
Our GPS succeeded in getting us to Pope Lick Park without a problem and, once inside, we followed the winding road until we saw a haunt sign directing customers to a large, paved parking area. If you miss that sign, there’s a cop car with flashing lights blocking the road just past the sign as well. The ticket booth is well-lit and is the only building within eyeshot of the parking lot.
Friendly staff were found there and at the entrance of the trail, should you have any questions or concerns. There is also a lengthy path between the ticket booth and the attraction entrance that you will need to navigate. This path is very dark, but it’s also concrete and a few hanging lights provide just enough light to keep you on track.
We did come across two escaped queue entertainers while we waited our turn to enter. Once we “sneaked” through the gates, we quickly realized this was one of the safest trails we’d ever walked (minus the freaks and monsters). There were no branches sticking out and very few tree roots to trip over, but because this is an all-outdoor attraction, we still recommend wearing closed-toe shoes or boots. It was also nearly impossible to get off the beaten path, as it was marked off with string pretty much the whole way through.
Upon arrival, only a few signs for the attraction let us know we had reached our destination. It was quiet and dark and not much was really going on. After being given directions to the head of the trail, this journey turned into a dark and spooky one with natural fog that filled the air (which created a beautiful ambience).
As we neared the chain-link gates to the haunt, we started to hear some dark, carnival-style music. A small, gravel path led the way to the waiting line, which is uncovered and surrounded closely by trees. This beckoned the feeling of being unprotected and that anything lurking within the timbers could make short work of our vulnerable group!
Also near the queue line are multiple illuminated signs displaying newspaper clippings and other information about the Pope Lick monster and its surrounding legends and folklore. Just beyond the gates is a towering railway trestle (that has been built to mimic the original one) and a wrecked train car off in the distance. All of these things combined very nicely to clue us in on what we were about to experience and make us all anxious to start our search for the mysterious creature himself!
Special Effects: 8
Quite a variety of special effects were hidden deep within the forest along our journey. Some of the effects and decor really took us back in time… closer to when the train wreck took place, such as the abundance of authentic-looking freak show signs, and strings of vintage, flickering lights. The many different sounds echoing through the forest intensified the scenes they were in and really heightened the overall creepiness of the walk.
The single flashlight we were given was actually a very hi-tech one that changes colors and provides flickering and strobing effects in certain scenes. As if walking through the woods with a flashlight wasn’t enough, this thing adds some very unique elements to the journey that, along with the other effects and sounds, can REALLY turn your mind into your own worst enemy!
Some of the “surprising” effects proved to be very effective, well-timed and, on occasion, rather impressive. A particular fog-filled room stopped us dead in our tracks and had us questioning our sanity for continuing! A few of the other effects that we noticed include a smoking campfire (that actually smelled like a campfire), poppers, a giant creature, “live” animal crates, a crystal ball, portions of a circus, fresh corpses, ominous lighting and fog (some of which was natural). Each of them helped develop their own parts of the backstory and did so quite creatively.
The full story behind The Legend is available on their website, but here’s the jist of it…
Decades ago, a travelling circus happened across a misshapen half-man, half-goat baby, which came to be featured as the show’s “Goat Man” years later. The creature was raised in a neglectful environment, ingrained with evil and a hateful temperament towards humanity as a result of its captor’s actions.
As the circus’ train was passing through Louisville, KY, a terrible storm developed and lightning struck the infamous 772-foot trestle that spans over Pope Lick Creek, causing the train to derail. The ensuing destruction killed… “nearly”… everyone aboard the locomotive. While many of the entertainers’ bodies were recovered, some of them never were… including that of the Goat Man.
Throughout the years, dozens of thrill-seekers have wandered into the park in search of the beast… some of whom have never returned. Some say the Goat Man can mimic human voices, calling them onto the trestle just in time to be struck by an oncoming train (and yes, the trestle is still in use to this day and trains can be heard while visiting the attraction). Others speculate that its calls are so terrifying that those who make their way onto the trestle are driven to leap from it. In addition, cases of demonic cult activity have been reported in the area, along with findings of human body parts and animal sacrifices.
While it would be convenient to say that these stories are just myths or old wive’s tales, the legend of the Goat Man continues to pique interest and claim lives to this day. As a matter of fact, the most recently-documented death occurred in April of 2016 after a young couple had wandered onto the tracks in search of the beast. Only one of them survived to tell the story to local media outlets.
During your experience at The Legend at Pope Lick haunted attraction, you’ll see a recreation of the gates that guard the railroad tracks, a scaled version of the trestle itself and several railroad cars and circus scenes that correlate with this one-of-a-kind theme. You’ll also encounter several local residents and campers within the woods that may try to get a piece of you themselves! We could tell that a lot of research and planning has gone into this theme to make the haunt as accurate to the legends and folklore as possible. We always appreciate a good backstory and, when the haunt can immerse you into it as creatively as this, it just adds a whole new dimension to the experience.
Fright Effect: 7.5
From the moment we began walking through the dark park till we got to the queue line, the few lights shining onto the path and music near the entrance provided a suspenseful walk, which kept our group and others who joined us looking over our shoulders nearly every step of the way. The suspense only increased from there as we entered the wreckage. There were even several areas where we discussed if we should continue or not! Several distractions crept up on us and some good hiding spots were in use, which made some of the scares totally unpredictable. There are quite a few other fright techniques that will be thrown at you here, including sudden loud noises, dark areas and torturous acts of victimization. At one point, we were forced to walk through a knife thrower’s direct line of fire (and yes, he was using real knives too)! There are also several deceptive scares at this haunt, meaning that several of the things you’ll see may not be exactly what you think they are. We won’t ruin the surprises…. But don’t say we didn’t warn you! If nothing else, be sure to hang onto your friends and don’t look into the Goat Man’s glowing red eyes! On a side note, we actually were holding onto each other several times in this one. Yeah… it’s that creepy.
General admission to pass through the gate and under the trestle in search of the Goatman will cost you $20.00 per person. Limited FastLane admission tickets are also available for an additional $10.00 and will grant you access to a faster line (approx. 1/3 the wait of the regular line on busy nights). During our visit it took us around 18 minutes to navigate the dark timbers, but this may vary per group depending on how you react to the scares. Although this was Pope Lick’s opening weekend of the season and their first time opening to the general public, we must say they pulled this attraction off very nicely. We are sure it is only going to improve as the season goes on and we recommend that our fellow haunt-seekers visit this attraction if you haven’t already. We’ll even add that a third member of our group (a complete stranger that didn’t want to go through the attraction alone and said he’s been visiting haunts since the 1980’s) expressed how much he enjoyed the attraction and that he was coming back this year with friends to show them too! Be sure to keep an eye out for $5 discount coupons!
Disclaimer: For those familiar with the legend and stories of Goat Man, this attraction takes place at a slightly different location than where the actual train trestle is and claimed sightings have occurred. The actual trestle is private property that belongs to the railroad and attempting to climb or walk on the trestle is trespassing and illegal. We do not advise it and hold no liability for those attempting to do so. Just stick with visiting the haunted attraction instead! You’ll have a much safer experience and we guarantee you’ll find more of the legend there.
Photos from Review Trip:
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