Review of Legend at Pope Lick Haunted Attraction
Review of Legend at Pope Lick Haunted Attraction
Review of Legend at Pope Lick Haunted Attraction
Legend at Pope Lick
Legend at Pope Lick is a Haunted Attraction located in Louisville, KY.
4002 S Pope Lick Road, Louisville, KY 40299View All Details
Free Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Food/Concessions, You will NOT be touched, Original Characters, Covered Outdoor Waiting Line, All-Outdoor Attraction
Team Zombillies reviewed this Haunted Attraction on October 13, 2018.
Special Note for 2018:
We’ve changed the way we give scores for this year. We are now using a weighted average that puts more emphasis on certain features of the haunt (IE: “How scary was it,” versus “Does the haunt’s location authenticate their theme”). That said, these scores should not be used in comparisons to previous seasons. For more information about this, click on the small “Score Sheet” link at the bottom of this review. We appreciate your understanding. Thanks and Happy Haunting! –The Scare Factor
Final Score: 8.36
The Legend at Pope Lick is one of the newest outdoor haunted attractions to the Louisville area. Combining state of the art special effects with old-school props and scenes, this 3-year-old trail turns the story of local folklore’s “Goat Man” into a frightening reality experience.
2018 marks our team’s 2nd review trip to Pope Lick Park and we were pleasantly surprised to see how many new scares are waiting for haunt-goers abroad! We can report that we saw some things this year that we’ve never seen tried before in a haunted attraction (much less a haunted trail), and the level of immersion into their story continues to be rivaled by few. New for 2018 is their Carnival Spookhouse, a vintage haunted house INSIDE a haunted trail! Now how many of you have seen that before?
Does The Legend of Pope Lick live? Let’s head to the dark woods beneath the trestle and find out for ourselves…
If you aren’t familiar with the legend behind Goat Man before you go through (more on this in Theme, below), then you might be surprised at some of the characters you’ll find on the trail.
The stand-outs of the night were definitely the circus performers. (Stick with us here…) Each of them interacted with everyone in our group and truly made us feel like we were there to see their show! The Barker asked us for our “shiny box things,” which turned out to be a period-correct statement – talking about our cell phones, and took group photos of us in his midway! While we were there, others were walking around on all fours upside down (that weird, upside-down, reverse crab walk gig), or mocking us in the pick-a-door area, locking us in one of the animal cages, or had us playing real carnival games.
However, one of our most memorable interactions came from the beggar under the trestle… well, we hope he was an actor anyway! Complete with a can for collecting donations, the guy was awfully persistent, telling us about a bunch of groups of people that keep coming through and never give him anything – strange fellow. The hillbilly was pretty vocal with us too. Turns out, you never know what you’ll run into out here and, apparently, one of us smelled like his sister. But hey, who’s pointing fingers?
Another interesting scene was the cathedral (yep, it gets even stranger than clowns). Most of these ritualists stood perfectly still and silent until we were all inside, then tensely started chanting, “The blood of the goat compels you!” Needless to say, we promptly left them to their prayers.
Despite having a diverse cast on the night of our hike, several parts of the trail felt a bit empty. For the first stretch or two between scenes, these places were pretty creepy (with the help of some special effects), but after that, we started to feel comfortable letting our guards down. If these guys end up finding some good hiding spots between scenes, you’ll definitely want to watch your backs at all times!
Pope Lick did a great job of matching their characters to their surroundings and creating some authentic looks while they were at it. Some of these costumes ranged from full-body animals, such as the large primate in one of the train cars, all the way down to semi-normal clothes, such as those worn by the various victims (We’ll pretend we didn’t see the bright, plain hoodie behind one of the drop panels.)
A mix of masks and makeup are used throughout the trail. Each type was appropriate and realistic despite various levels of intricacies… meaning, the clowns required more makeup than the victims, but both iterations were acceptable for each respective character. Masks were typically full-head models that resembled freakish humans or the animals that were wearing them, and most of the makeup applications appeared to be applied well.
The animal costumes were debatably the most unique of the trek, considering we really don’t see too many of those these days, and the fauna selected didn’t feel random or out-of-place. The pumpkin and Frankenstein’s monster were a couple of other interesting additions; kudos for pulling those off without seeming overly odd!
Most of the other costumes were believable as well, but we did cross paths with a few that were clearly more detailed than others. Whatever you do, watch out for the sharp teeth on the kissing booth clown; you might go home with a disease that Ajax won’t clear up…
Customer Service: 9.28
The easiest way to get to the haunt is to put “Pope Lick Park” into your GPS (we use Google Maps) and go from there. After pulling into the park, we followed a curvy road for a bit until we came to a cop car blocking the road. If it wasn’t for this car with the flashing red and blue lights, we may have had a hard time knowing exactly where we needed to be. We didn’t see any signs along the way.
Once we found a spot in the large, paved parking lot, we quickly noticed a well-lit and covered area with vintage string lights illuminating a decent crowd of people. We figured this must be the new location for the main queue line, which turned out to be a welcomed change from last year’s wayward walk to the woods.
The ticket stand serves as both a place to purchase your tickets and a concession stand that offers chips, hot dogs, pretzels and more. Guests have the convenience of using the park’s permanent facilities, which we highly recommend taking advantage of upon arrival; we didn’t notice any additional portable restrooms.
The haunt is back in the woods and quite a ways (what felt like at least 1/4-mile) from the queue/ticket area. This involves walking across at least one full-sized soccer field with very little light and through a fence on the way to the trailhead. We didn’t have much night vision left after our wait in line, but we trusted that the fields were wide open and smooth and we didn’t find any trip hazards or other dangers, so everything went well… albeit a little sketchy with all of those strange insignias drawn on the ground; must’ve been those cult people we found back in the cathedral.
The haunted trail itself was fairly easy to navigate, but there are a few places that could catch a foot if you’re running and not watching where you’re going. We found one small tree root and several tall steps going in and out of the train cars (ramps here would be helpful).
Aside from that, we enlisted the help of a haunt-provided 25¢ flashlight with sketchy batteries to see where we were going (Thanks Rod; More on this in Special Effects below), and the trail is roped off to keep you from wandering off the path.
Legend at Pope Lick takes place within Pope Lick Park and trains frequently pass by the property, which we could hear as soon as we got out of the car. Since we knew this was consistent with the Theme, this worked wonders for building our anticipation! We aren’t sure exactly how often these trains go through here, but how cool would it be if everyone was able to catch the roar of the tracks and the sound of the train horn at some point!? Though, we did hear some other ominous music playing near the ticket booth… which helped.
The ticket booth is pretty plain, but we’re sure this is because the haunt only rents the space for a short time. This and the lack of pre-parking lot signage isn’t doing any favors, but the queue area is quite a different story! Large newspaper banners and other signs here are what gives you the story and fills you in on some lore that surrounds the infamous goat man. The music selections and vintage lighting help bring you back to the appropriate time period too.
Perhaps the spookiest part of the pre-show ambience is the walk across the fields. You won’t have your flashlights yet at this point and there aren’t any lights out in the field. All you’ll have is a couple of distant white pin lights on the fence opening to guide you in the right direction before you reach the trailhead. However, the sound of a train horn and customers morbidly screaming their heads off, combined with the darkness and anticipation you’ve built up, make for quite a spooky and worthwhile walk! Another “if you’re lucky” feature is the natural fog that forms on the field.
*Fun Fact: While our team was standing in line last year, surrounded by wilderness in the dark woods, something very large flew over us (we weren’t the only ones that saw it). We couldn’t tell you what it was, but it was huge and low enough to be startling!
Special Effects: 8.41
Remember that 25¢ flashlight that we talked about? These little guys are one of the coolest parts of Pope Lick’s special effects lineup. Using high-end sensors, these tiny torches can actually tell where you’re at along the trail and adjust their beams to help light the way and/or intensify the scene you’re in. We won’t ruin how they do it, but we found this technique to be most effective in the darkest parts of the woods and at the finale. The brighter scenes tended to cancel them out a little bit.
The scenes themselves are a mix of natural woods, “open-air” sets and train-car storage containers. Returning guests will recognize a huge revamp of the circus area; the midway itself is a LOT bigger, there are interactive games that you can choose to play (briefly, but yes, while you’re in the haunt!), and this is the first time we’ve seen a haunt execute a “sub-haunt.” Not like submarines… more of a haunt within a haunt! Before you actually leave the circus area, there’s an old-school haunt section that plays on the classic spook houses put on by these types of traveling carnivals decades ago. We’ll admit that this wasn’t the scariest part of the tour, but the sheer creativity of even thinking about trying to pull this off is unreal. There is definitely a lot of potential to create a very surreal vibe here, so we’re curious to see how this plays out in the coming years! Inside, we came across some white sheet-style ghost projections, Frankenstein’s reanimated monster and even some family-friendly “spiritual” tunes!
We also went through several of the wrecked train cars that are still full of circus supplies. Wooden crates, animal cages and an electrical surprise gave the monsters plenty of places to hide. Other props include warped mirrors, subtle carnival music, loud train noises, a fresh victim, a vintage clown head, and more.
One of our favorite scenes from last year (involving a train) came back for an encore this season, but it seemed a little rushed from what we remember last year. Maybe it had too much fog, or maybe the timing was off; it’s hard to say, but the things we saw didn’t provide quite the level of suspense buildup that we remember.
The cathedral, campsite and hillbilly shack were also fairly well decorated. The first few sections of dark woods were accompanied by distant goat bellows and some other unexplainable sounds, which were creepy as hell! The finale leads you through a giant creature mouth-shaped cave with some cool fog, lightning and laser vortex effects before the final surprise is revealed. Before you go in, be sure to decide if you’re okay with curiosity getting the best of you… It might be the last decision you ever make!
The theme wasn’t explained to us this year inside the haunt but a few signs in the waiting area will give you a good idea of what’s going on and more information can be found on their website. In a nutshell, this haunted trail delves into one of the well-known folklore stories of Louisville, the Pope Lick goat man. They say this is one of the cities’ most investigated legends and that, whatever it is, it has been terrorizing the area for over 50 years!
But the monster didn’t just appear in these woods out of nowhere. On a violently-stormy night, a circus train carrying the Goat Man (he was their starring attraction) was struck by lightning as it was on its way to Louisville, causing it to derail. It is known for a fact that the Goat Man survived the wreck, as well as some of the other crew. It is said that this creature is the most active in the area surrounding the Pope Lick Trestle. Rumors of a satanic cult and demonic rituals were said to have taken place here too. Angry farmers and residents constantly suffer in fear in the area because the monster (supposedly) attacks their livestock and families.
As we journeyed along the path, we came across everything we just typed in this category, including the remains of the circus’ train cars and some of its performers. We spotted an empty “Half Man Half Goat” sign accompanying an empty crate. We also came across the angry farmers, the sounds of their livestock, some sort of satanic blood harvesting, and other areas one could expect to see in these woods; after all, there’s a Goat Man out there somewhere, right? Right!?
Scare Factor: 7.81
Legend at Pope Lick dishes out scares a bit differently in this neck of the woods. When they tell you, “You’ll venture into the forest with only a flashlight,” well, they aren’t kidding! These woods are very thick and dark too, so keep that flashlight very near and dear to you. P.S. You also only get a few flashlights per group depending on how many of you go in together! With every step you take, keep in mind that the Goat Man supposedly lives in these woods and, if so, he may be watching you at all times, eye-balling every move you make. The unexplainable sounds that we heard along the way didn’t help matters. We weren’t sure what they were all coming from, but we didn’t stick around long to find out either.
Our group consisted of 4 as we made our way through. Scares typically targeted the middle of the group, but we were singly targeted on occasion as well. There were several areas where we found ourselves hesitant to continue walking as thick fog quickly filled doorways making it impossible to see what was waiting for us. This technique was utilized in the finale in conjunction with other, large things but we don’t want to ruin all the fun and tell you what they were!
We can go ahead and tell you that you will see various types of goats multiple times, and one of them was large enough to eat us! Most of the freaks were already visible in their scenes when we got to them, but we did encounter some good hiding spots too. Actors beating on things, a well-hidden drop panel, a claustrophobic passageway, loud noises, and some actors with no remorse for their victims provided quite a range of scares.
However, these were all encountered within the scenes on the trail. In between scenes, our minds were left to wander as our dim flashlight guided the way and strange sounds echoed throughout the forest. As we alluded to in Cast, the first iteration or two of this was very suspenseful. After that, we started to learn that we were probably safe until we made it to the next scene. This did keep a nice flow of ups and downs going, but we left feeling like there were a few spots that weren’t fully taken advantage of.
Entertainment & Value: 7.92
General admission to discover the legend yourself will cost you $20 per person (plus tax). FastLane upgrades are available for an extra $10 and upgrading will give you a shorter wait in line on busy nights. From the time we entered the dark abyss until we came running out the exit, we had been walking the trail for 19-1/2 minutes. That brings this value to almost 1 minute of entertainment per dollar spent, which is pretty basic for the area.
At Pope Lick, you can choose your level of fear. If at anytime any of your group members are too scared, just say, “Monster be good” and their monsters will leave you alone.
Although we weren’t in line long (we did the FastLane upgrade), the signs, music, and a line entertainer that we could hear interacting with the crowd (Pip) helped to pass the wait in line. The owners did inform us that they typically have stage performers on most nights that weren’t on-site during our visit. We’re told they do tricks with broken glass and fire among other things. We’ve seen this crew in action before and, if you get the opportunity to watch them, your wait in line should pass by much faster!
This is only Pope Lick’s third season of being open and the show is already quite impressive! The scares here offer a lot more suspense than most attractions we encounter which instilled an overall creepy vibe into us all the way back to the car, causing us to talk about our experience for the majority of the ride home! We haven’t seen another haunt near the Louisville area that utilizes the unique flashlights like they do either, and their whole haunt is based on a local Louisville Legend that comes to life as soon as you step foot on the trail.
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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Most Authentic Location (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Most Creative Finale (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Most Surreal Haunt (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out - Goatman - Logan Wingler (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out - Quinn the Clown - Emily Moss (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Most Suspenseful Scare - Train (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Most Authentic Location (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Most Unique Haunt (Given by: Team Zombillies)