The Ark Encounter is a Noah's Ark theme park which opened on July 7, 2016 at a cost of $100 million. Ark Encounter is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Crosswater Canyon, which is a nonprofit subsidiary of Answers in Genesis.
The center piece of the theme park is a full-scale Noah's Ark structure that is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, based on the dimensions given in the Bible. It is described as the largest timber-frame structure in America and the world.
History, building, and opening
Planning and building
After the completion and success of the Creation Museum, Ken Ham and AiG started focusing on building the Ark Encounter. The plans for constructing the Ark Encounter were announced by AiG, along with Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear on December 1, 2010.
By early 2014, AiG appeared to be struggling to get the necessary funds for starting construction. However, interest and support for the Ark Encounter returned and AiG was able to raise enough money so construction could begin in 2014, something said by the mainstream media to be because of a high-profile debate between AiG president Ken Ham and science educator and evolutionist Bill Nye, even though AiG has stated that this was not the case, as it was not reasonably possible to purchase a bond after the debate.
During the construction of the Ark Encounter, AiG sued the state of Kentucky after officials blocked AiG from receiving a sales tax tourism incentive worth up to $18 million because AiG would use the Ark Encounter to share the gospel. On January 25, 2016, Federal Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove ruled in AiG's favor, ruling that blocking the incentives from AiG was unconstitutional and violated their First Amendment protections.
On July 7, 2016, the Ark Encounter was opened to the general public in Williamstown, Kentucky. The opening date, 7/7, was intentionally chosen to coincide with Genesis 7:7. Roughly 50-120 atheist protestors protested along the exit ramp of I-75 on opening day, even though about half of those at the exit ramp were believed to be Christians who witnessed to the atheists.
For the first 40 days of operation to the general public, the Ark had extended hours, where is opened at 9 am and closed at midnight, which symbolized the biblical account of the rains for 40 days and 40 nights. In September 2016, it was reported that the Ark Encounter exceeded attendance projections. In the first three months, 350,000 people had visited the Ark Encounter, far exceeding one State of Kentucky estimate, which had estimated 325,000 people for the entire year.
Soon after the opening, several notable people had already visited the Ark Encounter.
To celebrate the Christmas season in 2016, AiG decorated the Ark with rainbow lights in order to "take the rainbow back" from the homosexual agenda and show the true and undefiled meaning of the rainbow as recorded in Genesis 9:12-16. Like usual, the media and supporters of the homosexual agenda have circulated blatant misrepresentations and even lies concerning this action as well as the true meaning of the rainbow. Ken Ham announced in February 2017 that AiG would permanently light the Ark in rainbow colors.
The inspiring, family-oriented attraction is bringing much-needed jobs to Kentucky as well as a profound and beneficial Christian influence. The Ark Encounter is expected to have 1.6 million visitors the first year and could have up to 900 staff.
The project is seen by creationists like Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham as a very important undertaking. The Ark Encounter will provide a much-needed educational and spiritual center to remind people of the authenticity of the Bible and its historical events. It will remind people that "God is Holy and judges sin," but that "He is 'not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance' 2 Peter 3:9 (KJV)." Finally, it will also remind visitors that "God is a gracious God, [who] provided an Ark of salvation" in Noah's day and "has provided an Ark of Salvation for us today: the Lord Jesus Christ."
In addition to the life-sized Ark itself, the attraction will include a 1st-century village, a petting zoo, a journey in history from Abraham to the parting of the Red Sea, and even a replica Tower of Babel. The additional plans will be built in several phases.
The Ark Encounter expects to benefit from the Kentucky Tourism Act which allows them to reclaim up to 25% of the sales tax collected at the park, in the form of a rebate spread over up to ten years—this is contingent upon the park generating a large amount of business, and therefore taxes, to the state. Kentucky does not lose any money from this program: it gains money it wouldn't have had if the Ark Encounter were not built. If attendance and other goals are not met, the rebate is not given at all, and the total rebate is limited to 25% of the construction cost. No rebate will apply to sales taxes collected outside the park, such as at local hotels and restaurants.
Preliminary approval for the rebate was given by the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority in late July 2014. As mentioned above, the state of Kentucky later blocked the rebate, AiG sued, went to court, and won, and the rebates were restored. The new governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, appears to be much more friendly to AiG than his predecessor and did not appeal the court decision.
The Ark Encounter has received positive reviews from both Christian creationists and non-creationists. There have been visitors from all across the nation, the world, and from diverse social and personal backgrounds.
The Ark Encounter has come under intense attack by atheists and others who oppose creation, but this is unsurprising and it has not affected the success of the attraction. Despite these attacks, numerous atheists have visited the Ark. There has also been a lot of misrepresentation of the Ark and its success by the media, but again, this is unsurprising.
It was reported in May 2017 that, according to the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum were helping increase tourism in the Norther Kentucky region.
- Weed, Alexis (July 8, 2016). Noah's Ark Opens at Kentucky Theme Park. CNN. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- Sherter, Alain (July 7, 2016). Visitors, protesters turn out for Ark Encounter opening in Grant County. WKYT. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- Building a Life-size Noah’s Ark. Colorado Timberframe. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- Ham, Ken (January 26, 2016). More False Accusations Against the Ark Refuted!. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- History. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- News Release: Ark Encounter (12/1/2010), Answers in Genesis
- Chappatta, Brian (January 3, 2014). Planned Ark park in Northern Ky. faces collapse without more bond buyers
- "Creation Museum's $73m Noah's Ark park to begin construction in Kentucky". The Guardian. Associated Press. 28 February 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/28/creation-museum-kentucky-noahs-ark-museum-ken-ham. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
- Ham, Ken & Looy, Mark (August 22, 2016). Media Misinformation Continues with the Ark. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
- Lovan, Dylan (January 25, 2016). Ark Encounter builder wins legal battle over tax incentive. WCPO.com Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- Caproni, Erin (January 26, 2016). Judge rules on Ark Encounter incentives. Cincinatti Business Courier. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- Victory for AiG/Ark Encounter in Federal Court. Answers in Genesis. January 25, 2016. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- Ham, Ken. Ark Encounter Opens to the Public! Answers in Genesis. July 7, 2016. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- Ham, Ken (August 15, 2016). Ark Encounter’s Impact—Responding to Misinformation. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
- Law, Jeannie (January 26, 2016). Ken Ham's Ark Encounter to Host Millions of Visitors in 40 Days, 40 Nights Opening. Christian Post. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
- Hamrick, Brian (September 15, 2016). Riding wave of popularity, Ark Encounter exceeds attendance projections. WLWT. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
- Mitchell, Kyle (October 6, 2016). Ark Encounter sees strong attendances numbers in first 3 months. WDRB. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
- Who Has Visited the Ark Encounter?. ArkEncounter.com. October 21, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
- Ham, Ken. Bill Nye Visits the Ark Encounter. Answers in Genesis. July 8, 2016. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
- Nye, Bill & Ham, Ken (13 March 2017). "Nye/Ham: The Second Debate Premiere (video - 117:04)". YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPLRhVdNp5M.
- Ham, Ken (October 26, 2016). Ray Comfort’s The Atheist Delusion Premieres at Ark Encounter. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
- Ham, Ken (December 20, 2016). Rainbow Lights at the Ark. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Wartman, Scott (December 23, 2016). Kentucky ark builder wants to take rainbow back. USA Today. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Ham, Ken (January 16, 2017). Christians Who Accept Millions of Years Undermine God’s Word. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Ham, Ken (February 3, 2017). We’re Keeping the Rainbow at the Ark Encounter. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
- Ark Encounter FAQ Why are you building the Ark?
- Letter from Ken, April 2011, by Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis, April 25, 2011
- Ark Encounter FAQ What is the Ark Encounter?
- The planned project phases
- Feedback: Taxpayers Will Not Be Paying to Build the Ark Encounter, by Mark Looy, AiG-U.S. December 10, 2010
- Media Misrepresentations Mount, by Mark Looy, AiG-U.S. January 17, 2011
- Noah's Ark Project May Get $18 Million in 'Tourism Incentives' From Kentucky Christian Post, August 5, 2014.
- Ethridge, Melany & A. Larry Ross (September 15, 2016). Ken Ham's Latest Endeavor: 'Amazing, Remarkable, Awesome'. Charisma News. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
- Wayne and Carla Anderson (September 11, 2016). The Ark Encounter: Doubters aside, ark exhibit is impressive. Columbia Daily Tribune. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
- Noel, Josh (October 9, 2016). Noah’s Ark in Kentucky is something to see. Leader-Telegram. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
- Worldwide Visitors Rave About America's Newest Tourist Attraction: Ark Encounter. WBIW. September 15, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
- Atheists, skeptics flock to see ... the Ark!. WND. October 20, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
- Ham, Ken (October 25, 2016). Media Misleads About the Ark . . . Again!. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
- Ashwill, Vickie (May 16, 2017). Ark Encounter helped tide of Northern Kentucky tourism rise in 2016. WCPO. Retrieved May 22, 2017.