September 2016 – The Ark Encounter, a replica of Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky, welcomed visitors from across the world on its opening day, July 7, 2016. Answers in Genesis constructed the 510-foot-long, 85-foot-wide, and 51-foot-tall ark based on biblical descriptions.
Along massive ramps, the gigantic ship contains three floors of exhibits, including dinosaur replicas in cages and full size figures of Noah and his family reading scrolls and preparing dinner. More advanced exhibits explain how fossils were created through the flood, and detailed engineering models describe possible methods for gathering rainwater and disposing of animal waste.
Outside the $100 million park, several dozen protestors accused AiG of disregarding science. They also expressed disdain for AiG’s policy of hiring only devout Christians and criticized the state of Kentucky for extending an $18 million tax incentive for the project.
“Ark Encounter meets the definition of a tourist attraction, and it will absolutely impact the Kentucky economy,” said Julie Kirkpatrick, vice president of the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I don’t see much controversy.”
Ark Encounter could generate up to 21,000 jobs for the region over 10 years and up to $4 billion in revenue for Kentucky, according to a 2015 study conducted by a consulting firm hired by Answers in Genesis. The same study projected between 1.4 million and 2.2 million annual visitors, a figure based in part on the number of visitors at the AiG’s Creation Museum in nearby Petersburg, Kentucky.
Georgia Purdom, a geneticist for AiG, said the Ark Encounter’s mission is to share the gospel. She clarified their intent to be both scientifically and biblically accurate. “We want [our visitors] to know the Bible is true,” she said.
kentucky.com, 4/26/16, 7/7/16; WKYT.com, 7/7/16