On Tuesday, July 5, 2016, the Ark Encounter was launched in Williamstown, Kentucky! And today, July 7, 2016, the Ark Encounter has been launched to the public.
The Ark Encounter is a life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark as presented in Genesis 5-10, and the Answers in Genesis organization has done a remarkable job bringing this historical event back to life and to the public spotlight. I was fortunate enough to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony prior to the official opening on July 7, and the exhibit is nothing short of amazing.
As my wife and I arrived in the parking lot and boarded one of the shuttle busses, I kept twisting and turning in my seat to get my first glimpse- and it wasn’t long before I spotted the enormous vessel I had been longing to see, resting quietly above the tree tops in the distance. The sky was overcast, but just a day earlier we had driven through a torrential downpour, and we agreed it would be apropos if the ceremony were conducted amidst storms of flooding rains as we received reports of flash floods on our cell phones. But on this morning there were only scattered raindrops, a nice cool breeze, and mostly cloud cover for the ceremony, making the weather conditions nearly perfect on this early July morning. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that the sun came out for several spurts, so God provided wonderful weather, which was welcome for all the people expected to gather.
With over 43,000 supporters providing donations, this massive ark structure is totally, 100 percent privately funded. And about 7,000 of these supporters showed up for this well-organized event, along with a full convoy of media and public officials.
It’s important to note that the facility was still under construction as we arrived, so construction crews worked around us as the day progressed, and they did a fine job dealing with all the people flooding around them. The cafeteria wasn’t open, and neither were many of the other exhibits and structures. The ground was soggy and wet, there weren’t enough food options available, nor conveniently located restroom facilities (had to rely on port-a-potties), but I was very impressed with how well everyone conducted themselves. Despite the crowded conditions and incomplete facility, the visitors were cordial, patient, excited, and in great spirits, taking everything in with wonder and awe. I waited in a long line for a bagged Chick-fil-A lunch, and the line moved smoothly along, and it gave me a chance to capture some more photos as I did.
In short, the entire ceremony was magnificent and well-staged, stirring excitement for the purpose of the Ark Encounter. Projections indicate that up to two million people per year will come to this attraction, so this was a beautiful way to kick things off.
So what is the Ark Encounter all about? It’s meant to be a testimony to the historical Genesis flood that happened about four thousand years ago and wiped out all life on the face of the planet- except for those who survived aboard the ark. The flood reshaped the planet through catastrophic processes; evidence for this is apparent across the globe as seen in the geologic layers laid down rapidly over the course of this year-long event, and for centuries afterwards as the earth recovered. The ark and exhibits provide an impressive and compelling case that contradicts the secular history of the earth, which demands billions of years of geologic and biological evolution. The ark helps provide a solid assurance for Biblical faith and shows that what is written in the Bible is true.
The ark also provides an evangelistic purpose, proclaiming God’s word and the gospel message of Jesus Christ and the work he did on the cross. This is the vision started by Ken Ham, Mark Looy, and thousands of others involved in the construction and success of the ark. The credits of all involved is epic in-and-of itself. Patrick Marsh- a man of many God-given talents, gained experience working at Universal Studios, the Olympic games in Los Angeles, and theme parks throughout the world. After contacting Ken Ham and offering his talents, he designed the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, and now he’s done a remarkable job designing the attractions for the Ark Encounter. He, in turn, has given credit to the incredible team that worked tirelessly to put this together.
As the ceremony progressed a marching band marched down the road, and several singers performed. Another neat moment was when a memorial of 12 stones was laid outside the ark as a reminder to coming generations about the truth of God’s word, the wonderful works he’s done, and the gospel to the world.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was performed by Mayor Skinner of Williamstown, and he provided a sincere blessing for the Ark Encounter and its mission, expressing how he’s thankful for what the ark has done for the county, and what it will do for the county in the future.
Ken Ham also explained the significance for why the Ark Encounter grand opening is today- July 7. Genesis 7:7 says: “And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood.”
So as I waited my time to board the ark and take a self-guided tour, I walked the grounds and checked out the petting zoo, featuring emus, yaks, little goats, and other animals. The cafeteria, called Emzara’s, is in honor of Noha’s wife (according to extra-biblical records), and looks like it will be popular once completed. The café wasn’t open for business yet, but has a visually pleasing animal display ringed around the seating area. Something else that was amazing was a sea of 30,000 tiny flags planted on the lawn to thank many of the ark supporters.
At least we made our way in line to board the ark, and even though the line was extremely long, everyone was well-behaved and good-mannered. I was impressed with the staff and how patient they were with the crowd of people; they were quick to take photos for us and make the experience as memorable as possible.
One thing that really struck me about the actual ark exhibit was how spacious it is. The Ark Encounter is nearly one and a half football fields long and is taller than a four-story house. According to Genesis 6:15, the ark was to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high (about 510 feet long). That’s more than enough space to house all the animals expected to live on board for the year-long journey. I was amazed at the amount of space there was for food to feed all the animals, how the food could have been stored, how the animals could have been cared for, and how waste and refuse could have been disposed of. The exhibits demonstrated the feasibility of maintaining sanitary conditions and proper ventilation and light during the flood. It went on to present a scientific explanation for the geological layers we see in textbooks, provides a mechanism for the ice age, and evidence for many other scientific questions and objections that are often raised.
To conclude, I highly recommend taking a visit to the Ark Encounter, and also to the nearby Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. But be sure to arrive early so you don’t have to rush. It’s really worthwhile to take it all in as you’re able. My only regret was that I brought four electronic devices, and all four of them were either out of battery power or were nearly out of power by the end of the day. If you’re anything like me, you want to see and capture everything, so I’d suggest being well-stocked on power so you don’t miss capturing some great moments. I’d love to go back again and see the completed exhibit, and I’m looking forward to future plans to expand the theme park as it grows. The Ark Encounter definitely makes for a great family vacation- and a tremendous learning experience that will leave you in awe.