GoatMan Hollow
Hyattsville, MD

Two kids in tow, our 16 year old and 11 year old, we headed out for Goatman Hollow located in Hyattsville MD. We'd been invited, and while we had no negative expectations, we had no idea we would be setting the bar with this small haunt, run in a patch of woods between an apartment complex and a middle school, staffed with volunteers and whose proceeds benefit the local fire department. We couldn't have been more mistaken. I sit hear a year later, the season finished, and I am still impressed with the operations, staff and effects displayed at this small haunt.

The story of the Goatman is standard house material... well intentioned scientist lost the love of his life, yada yada yada... and began experimentations to bring her back to him... one of the failed experiments was, "ta da" The Goatman.
Most houses have some sort of story to them, and Brian and I are big fans of "the backstory." It adds ambience and credibility, particularly if the house remains true to the story (which quite often does not happen.... it evolves to be all about the scares). There is not one moment of your journey thru Goatman Hollow that you forget, because the story unfolds before you.

You are advised that your response to anyone asking what you are doing in the woods is "We're looking for the goatman." As you begin your walk down the wooded trail, your first encounter is with a government employee, who, just as luck would have it, is looking for the goatman too. He will travel with you through the outdoor maze, speaking in low tones, telling tales of the woods... You come across a trailer, parked alone in the woods, it's inhabitant a bit scary himself, until we mention the goatman and it causes him to flee into his protective aluminum shell, nothing left of him but a pair of eyes barely noticeable above the trailer's window ledge.

Being set in an actual patch of woods gave the haunt atmosphere that even the best of haunters can scarcely match... and when you combine sophisticated lighting, it doesn't get much better. Walking up upon a small cemetary and Mausaleum, the stateues begin to glow before your eyes... the slowest of fade up of lighting, controlled with remotes held by the guides. Even inside the mausaleum the props were perfectly illuminated, giving the statues an ethereal effect... and their use of a "pepper's ghost" effect in this outdoor mausaleum was a complete and pleasant surprise. The oldest of industry standards, but so overlooked in today's pneumatic prop world... not the most difficult effect to pull off (tho for this, the degree was escalated somewhat with the haunt being outdoors) but the look on the faces of our fellow travellers says it all. Looking "thru" Jenny to her tombstone that lay just beyond was a monumental effect to this already impressive scene.

Throughout the path, you will encounter Jenny again, and her family. I would be completely remiss if I did not give IMMENSE amount of credit to the actors of this room. We absolutely never would have believed that the pool of talent here were volunteers, they break our rule of "you get what you pay for." You will meet the "failed Jennys," a room of carnivorous little girls... all clones of Jenny, but not quite right.... you'll cross "crybaby bridge," and will meet people looking for their beloved pets that sadly, did not come when they were called.... until you reach the final house... where you'll meet the doctor himself.... completely crazed, a madman... Jenny's soul trapped in the lifeless body that remains in the coffin... her spirit will beg you to stop him, to let her die.... let her have peace.... and just when you thought you were out of the woods... well....s you'll just have to visit the haunt for the rest...

So are goatmen scary? Depends on your point of view.... If you are looking for huge startle scares, this may not be the haunt for you...the allure of this haunt is that beyond the goatman, they offered a cohesive story that brought you into their world, made you closer to the participants, a tactic that allows their subtle, creative and effective use of lighting and talented staff to, for just one brief and gloomy moment, suspend your logic and believe in the goatman... and you'll pray for Jenny's soul to find peace.

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