First Time at the Ark Encounter

As a rule when we are with our RV friends we don’t talk about religion.  We also stay away from politics, and really any subject considered controversial.  We are a diverse group of people who are bound together by our common interest in RVing and since we love each other and respect those differences it just seems to work best.  I am writing this blog post in that spirit.  My goal is to write an impartial review of The Ark Encounter as a place you might want to visit in your travels, and although I am fully aware that this particular place might evoke strong emotions in people, I will not be covering either my feelings (or those of anyone else I was with) in this post.  I do think it is fair to say that the experience is designed to evoke emotion, and you should be prepared for that going in.

One last note, as much as I appreciate comments on our blog posts please know that any comments on this particular post that do not honor this impartiality will be deleted.  I apologize in advance for taking that step, but I don’t believe this blog is the proper forum for those type of discussions.  The pictures and comments I post are designed to give people a feel for what they can expect to see, but are not intended to unduly influence anyone’s opinion. They are also not 100% comprehensive, so please keep that in mind.  I am neither a religious scholar nor a scientist and as such am simply presenting the information at face value. Thanks for understanding.

Picture taken from inside the park in front of the Ark. From left: Me, Lee, Dede, and Denny

I had really never heard of the Ark Experience until Denny started telling me about it.  My interest was immediately piqued because I love “big stuff” and the idea of a life-sized ark really sounded cool.  So Denny planned the day trip and told Lee about it, but they kept it a secret from me, so I was completely surprised by the destination when we arrived.  The Ark is built in the middle of a huge field in Williamstown, Kentucky and the large parking lot (with plenty of RV parking) sits very far away from the Ark.  When you enter the parking lot, signs clearly state that you will need to pay $10 prior to leaving, which is probably to stop folks from just popping in, taking a picture, and then leaving.  You can see the ark from one corner of the parking lot, but it is so far away that you don’t really get a feel for the scope of it.  Plus the inside is way more interesting than the outside, so if you are planning on visiting the ark, it’s definitely a place you will want to pay admission for.

We did have a little confusion in the parking lot and weren’t sure where to go, but eventually we walked to a small building which is where we bought our tickets.  The day price was $40 for me,  (they had a military and senior discount and DeDe received both which took the price for her to $31),  but they also had multiple day passes and combination passes with the Creation Museum which was 45 minutes away. We chose the day pass, and I winced a little at the price, but Denny offered to pay for us and I was happy to accept.  We are on a limited  budget and rarely spend that sort of money on any experience.

Admission area with both a ticket booth and credit card machines which was a nice feature

The annual fee is definitely a bargain for folks who plan on going frequently. As I mention they also have a military discount

One you pay your admission you get on a large bus and are driven to the site.  It opens into a large plaza where they had food stands and some nice gift shops. We walked down into the ark area  and it was neat getting up close.  The ark is HUGE, and on the back side has a building that is attached to it to give additional space for exhibits, restrooms, and elevators.  The guys noticed that some bolts were used in the construction and I noticed the sprinkler system, but none of that bothered me at all.  Obviously the building needs to be built to modern-day code standards, and I appreciated the fact that it was wheelchair friendly. We actually paced a woman in a wheelchair throughout our visit and she was having a wonderful time, taking pictures, and didn’t seem to have any issues with the layout, even in the smaller side spaces.

There was a ramp going up to a huge door

The line to the entrance took us right under the aft section.

Having worked in the fire protection business for 15 years I was glad to see the sprinklers

I should mention we went on a Friday, while kids were in school, in October, and it was busy and at times crowded. It was obvious that these lines were built for many more people so you should definitely take that into account when you are visiting.

The inside of the ark was even more impressive.  Three floors, beautiful wood, and really amazing in scale.  Plus they had a fund-raising program where you could sponsor a plank of wood and then go online and see which piece was yours, which I thought was pretty cool.

This picture shows a cross-section of the wall.

The curved front near the door from the inside

The center portions had air vents

And there were walkways above which allowed the inhabitants to go above the animal pens and drop in feed

This sign explained in detail how the feeding system worked

The first and second floors were mainly animal pens and the construction was very interesting.  Different types of pens for different types of animals and food, water, and waste solutions for each kind.   It was obvious that an incredible amount of thought had gone into how you would transport this many animals and I found all of that pretty interesting. They also had calculations showing how they thought 8 people could manage the workload and the amount of food, water, and oil that would have needed to be stored.

The cages for the larger animals were pretty big. Denny is in the pic for scale and he’s a big guy at 6’3″.

Different types of clay vessels for different liquids

Lots of bird and small animal cages

Sacks of grain

This stand explained how they could feed and care for reptiles and amphibians

Large model of the ark

Sign showing how they made the calculations on distribution of labor, space for cages etc.

The second floor also contained a small petting zoo area and the llamas were pretty cute and the door of the arc which had a large cross made of light projected on it.

Petting zoo

Door…you can see the cross projected above me

The sign next to the door talked about how there was only one door to salvation.

All along the outside of the ark there were various small rooms explaining  various tenets of Creationism.  These contained detailed posters with lots of information and unfortunately caused several pedestrian “traffic jams”.  It was harder to read the information and take pictures in those areas so it is important to not that the few posters I am including here are only a small portion of the information presented.

This poster was about how many of each animal was taken into the ark. The bible says seven seven which Hebrew theologists disagree on whether it was 7 pairs or 7 individual. Quite a bit of theological thought has gone into this particular question

Whatever the number that is a lot of animals and the explanation for how that many could fit on the ark is explained by the concept of “kinds.” Essentially one animal would be the forefather of many types of animals.

This is the Kind of cats for example

And this is the kind of dogs, wolves, and foxes

The animals were very well done and looked realistic

Tons of detail in the presented information, but I grasped the concept pretty quickly.  I was more interested in the dinosaurs since I was surprised to see them on the ark as well.  The explanation of the dinosaurs had kind’s as well and some of the animals that Noah brought on the ark have become extinct.

Two of the several Kind dinosaurs

This poster explained that Noah didn’t need to bring full size brontosaurs with him, but instead could bring two of the  babies

This poster explained how freshwater fish survived. Noah didn’t need to bring the ocean dwelling fish on the boat of course.

They even covered Unicorns on the ark and their belief is that unicorns were actually rhinoceros.  DeDe and I were particularly interested in this. She had heard as a child that the unicorns were playing and wouldn’t get on the boat and I had heard Noah was mad at them, but either way it’s probably true that unicorns were rhinos…which is a bummer because the world would be a better place with a few unicorns in it. 🙂

Speaking of childhood stories, there was a side section that had lots of cartoon animals on it.  I went inside expecting to see a kids area, but instead found a section on why childhood ark images are dangerous.  There were several examples of childhood arc images and they talked about the 7 D’s of Deception which “attack the truthfulness of scripture.”

This poster was to the right as I walked in the door.

The third floor contained the living quarters which were done in exquisite detail.  It also explained how the 8 people on the ark were our forefathers and explained further how each pair went on to populate different continents.  There was also an area where you could get a 3D model of yourself by walking into a photo booth where they took 360 degree pictures.  Lee was fascinated by this technology and the statues were incredibly detailed but the prices were extremely high.  Hopefully this technology gets more popular in the future because I would love one of these of the girls.

amazingly lifelike

But Yikes on the prices

Speaking of diversity, the visiting crowd as also pretty diverse.  I saw people of all ages including many school age children and there were numerous African-american people along with several Amish/Mennonite families, some Asians, and a family from India.

The third floor had many more side rooms including one explaining that there had only been one Ice Age and a series of life-sized cartoon panels showing a college aged student struggling with their faith. The most interesting one for me was a series of booths showing how the bible had made its way around the world in written format and the exhibits ended with a large panel talking about how we know the bible is true.

As you can see the lines formed for the side rooms

This panel talked about climate change and whether it was mad made or a natural occurence

Numerous panels showed a side by side comparison of a creationist versus evolutionary view on a particular subject

Numerous panels talking about the first time the bible was translated into a native language

The red pins represent an area of the world where less than 2% of the population is Christian.

India had the largest number of red pins. I worked with several people from India and although most are Hindu in certain areas of the country there are Islamic.

Australia only had a few areas with red pins which I assume are aboriginal populations

The elevator was near this panel and we took it down into a very large gift shop.  The prices were reasonable and they had excellent ice cream along with fudge and other treats.  Next door there is an extra building with a large buffet and several smaller food kiosks.

It was a full day with lots of walking, one man I talked to had walked 4700 steps, and I can certainly see why some people might want to purchase a multi day pass.  There is a small zoo and petting area, which we did not see and donkey and camel rides available for an additional charge.

In summary, I appreciate Denny taking us there and found the ark itself to be an amazing piece of construction.  The price, however, I feel is on the high side, because a family of five could easily spend several hundred dollars on a day trip. To be fair, amusement parks cost just as much, but I wish the price point for children was a little lower for parents of large families who wanted to attend the experience.

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7 thoughts on “First Time at the Ark Encounter

  1. Fascinating! I do believe this will be on a bucket list for my husband and I. Did you note any nearby camping? I love reading your blog…..thanks!

  2. Amazing! I’m not sure when/if I’ll have a chance to get there and your very extensive post gave me the chance to sort of experience it a little! (I didn’t even know the place existed, and I’ve been in Louisville KY, about 90 miles away, since August. Unfortunately, leaving this week so won’t have a chance to get there this time around).

  3. I’ve always wondered about The Ark since it began construction. Thanks for a very interesting and informative blog entry. It looks very interesting for sure and well thought out!

  4. Wow! That sure seems impressive and comprehensive! Not sure I’d spend that much to see it – but very interesting to say the least!
    Thanks for the detailed post!

  5. Pingback: First Time in ISKCON New Vrindaban – Camper Chronicles

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