Another benefit to the underground storage is the climate control. The caverns maintain a temperature of 56 degrees. They use supplemental fans to keep down the fog that can get created while Ultra-violet lights in the HVAC units kill air-born mold, mildew, and bacteria. There are also heaters used to dehumidify parts of the caverns while radiation from ash, human bodies and machineries also contribute heat. These factors contribute to utility costs that are 75-85% cheaper than a building above ground and making the caverns a "green" building.
The worm and organic materials recycling center is another green aspect of the caverns. Worms are put into bins of organic materials to help break them down. Our guide was kind (or gross) enough to chew and eat one of the worms as part of his tour. Although there were no questions from the visitors at any other part of the tour, hands shot up after this stunt when he asked "any questions?".
Nothing elicits questions from a crowd like eating something gross.
The Historical tram tours occur several times per day, although the hours vary by season. Check the web site for scheduling. Make sure to arrive 15-20 minutes early. Adults are $13.50; Children 3-11 are $8.00; children 2 and under are free; Seniors and military (must present ID) are $12.00 (all prices before tax). Some hotels have a "room key discount" (ask your concierge).
The Zipline tours at Megacaverns boast 5 ziplines and 3 challenge Bridges. To be fair: The first of the five zips is a "bunny zip" in the training area that makes sure you understand your training. From there, you are driven by tram to "Zipline from Hell". That's really what it is called. I thought it was just a funny coincidence that the song Highway to Hell started playing as we got off of the tram to walk to the first zip.
Before you zip through the huge cavern dotted with fake flame lamps, you are posed for a photo that will be available for purchase after the tour. The zips are exhilarating. I turned my head every which way, trying to take all of the scenery in. It really is a one of a kind experience. Our guides were fun, and Lindsay made lots of jokes, keeping the audience entertained. They also told us about paranormal activity in the caverns, and the occasional sighting of a native american girl.
This photo with a strange ghost-like apparition (marked by red arrow) is on display during the tram tour.
The third zip line allows you to get a running head start off a ramp, where you can jump if you wish to bounce on your way across the cavern. It made things a little more interesting.The longest of the zip lines is over 800 feet and our guide told us that sometimes lighter people get stuck. One of the guides have to zip over to them, and then pull them to the other side "hand over hand" when this happens.
The bridges are a physical challenge; they sway when you walk on them, and one of them is on a steep incline. My legs were sore by the end of the day.The guides encouraged visitors to let loose on the final zip line, allowing them to zip backwards, hands free or both. I did both. My son chickened out and did neither despite his bragging ahead of time.
The zip line tours were also informative, although far less so than the historical tour. We learned that the limestone in the caverns can hold about 60,000 lb per square inch, and that the limestone is part of the "Cincinnati Arch". The guides said that you could stack every building in Louisville above the caverns without causing the ceiling to crack. We were also shown the beginning formation of stalagtites and stalagmites that is occurring at a faster than normal pace.
Ticket prices for adult or child are $59-$79 depending on the day of the week. It seems high, but the price is fair considering that this is the only underground zip line in the world. I would not recommend this tour for people with physical disabilities. Arrive 30 minutes early for training. See schedules on the web site.
The guides pointed out a huge fossil in the cavern ceiling while on our way
back to the gift shop from the last zip line. Layers of the limestone used to be ocean floor.
Christmas Light Tours:
Louisville Mega Caverns also offers a "drive -thru" Christmas light display called "Lights Under Louisville", where families can take a 30 - 40 minute ride through the caverns in their own cars to peruse the elaborate holiday decorations. This year's holiday event will run from November 16 to December 30. Cars are $25, trucks, SUVs and mini-vans are $25. Vans are $35; Limos and Church Buses (excluding School bus size) are $50; School buses are $150. Motorcoaches are $4 per person but reservations are required. More information is available on their web page.
The tram tour points out the other tours and services available through Mega Caverns.