Ark Encounter will operate for “40 days and 40 nights” straight after opening
Williamsburg, Ky. – Organizers for a Noah’s Ark theme park in Northern Kentucky have announced an opening date for the attraction.
Answers in Genesis, the Christian ministry group behind the project, made the announcement today as work commenced at the site.
Ark Encounter will open on July 7, 2016, an homage to Genesis 7:7. The Bible verse describes the first time Noah and his family enter the ark. In keeping with the ark theme, officials said Ark Encounter would be open for “40 days and 40 nights” during its first 40 days of operation. Normal operating hours will begin Aug. 15 – unless the flood of visitors continues unabated.
“While the Ark Encounter will be able to accommodate 16,000 guests per day, our consultant’s research has shown that we could possibly expect more than that during the first few weeks of opening, especially during the summer time frame,” said Ken Ham, founder and president of Answers in Genesis. “So, to make sure this themed attraction remains an enjoyable experience for everyone, we are adding a nighttime shift for the first 40 days.”
When complete the 510-ft-long and 85-ft-high structure will house 132 exhibit bays. The park will include a 2,100-seat restaurant and a 1,000-seat multipurpose room.
In addition to announcing the project’s opening date, Ham confirmed that the majority of the funding for the Ark Encounter’s first phase has been raised—about $80 million of the $91.5 million needed. Ham is confident the rest will come in before construction is completed, including through sales of Ark memberships (called boarding passes).
The state had initially awarded $18M in tax incentives to Ark Encounter, in response to organizers’ prediction of creating 20,000 jobs and $4 billion revenue over 10 years, however the money was withdrawn last year due to concerns of religious discrimination. Answers in Genesis is challenging the withdrawal.
Answers in Genesis opened the Creation Museum nearby in 2007.