Ark Encounter – An Adventure of Biblical Proportions
“It’s bigger than imagination!” That’s the slogan of the Ark Encounter, a Christian Fundamentalist theme park that opened in 2016 in Grant County, Kentucky. Constructed and operated by Answers in Genesis, the Ark Encounter is one of only three full-sized Noah’s Ark replicas in the world, and — at 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high — is the largest such replica on record.
The Ark Encounter claims to be a “full-scale” model of Noah’s Ark, and was built with the aim of educating visitors about the Genesis flood narrative from Biblical teachings. The attraction cost over $100 million and opened on July 7, 2016, to correspond with Genesis 7:7, the verse in which Noah and his family boarded the Ark.
What You’ll Find at the Ark Encounter
On arrival, visitors to the Ark Encounter will view a film while waiting in line, showcasing the features and narrative intent of the theme park. Once inside, they will find animatronics, educational displays, and more.
This replica of Noah’s Ark — built according to specifications given in Biblical accounts — is split into three decks and contains over 130 bays, each approximately eighteen feet high. Visitors will enter the Ark on the lowest deck and make their way up and down ramps placed in the center of the attraction. The first two decks contain models of various kinds of animals, including dinosaurs, along with dioramas featuring the Ark’s crew members and their environs (including a workshop and smithy). Displays on the third deck offer theories about what could have happened during the Ark’s journey during the flood.
Outside the Ark itself, visitors will find restrooms, a gift shop, and a restaurant called Emzara’s Kitchen (named for the traditional Jewish name of Noah’s wife). There is also a free petting zoo, called the Ararat Ridge Zoo, the only place to find live animals at the Ark Encounter.
Building the Ark — Again
The Ark Encounter required the work over over a thousand craftsmen, who were employed techniques from “the ancient era” whenever possible, to make the experience as authentic as possible. AiG claims the attraction is the largest timber frame structure in the U.S., having required 3,300,000 board feet of wood for its construction.
Determining the size of the ark provided some challenges, due to the fact there are twelve possible lengths for the biblical cubit. AiG chose a length of 20.1 inches, resulting in the Ark Encounter’s total length of 510 feet. Although the builders used ancient techniques where possible, they also employed environmentally friendly techniques such as rainwater capture, geothermal heating, use of renewable forests, and solar heating.
Since its opening, the Ark Encounter has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors, including former president Jimmy Carter. AiG has plans to expand the theme park to include zip lines, a “walled city” attraction, and many more exhibits.
The Ark Encounter is located at 1 Ark Encounter Dr. in Williamstown, KY. The entrance to the park is off exit 154, just west of the intersection of KY-36 and I-75. The Encounter is approximately 45 minutes from downtown Cincinnati. If you’d like to fly in, a bus ride to the Encounter from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) takes about 30 minutes or about an hour from the Blue Grass airport (LEX) in Lexington, KY. Many visitors also come to the Ark Encounter from Louisville, or from the Creation Museum in nearby Petersburg.
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