A $100 million theme park dedicated to the story of Noah's Ark has opened in Kentucky.
The park features a 510-foot-long, 7-storey, exhibit-filled wooden replica of Noah's Ark. The founder says the ark is life-sized, based on dimensions found in the Bible. Displays include depictions of Noah's family along with rows of cages containing animal replicas, including dinosaurs. Creationists believe the world was created just 6,000 years ago. On an 800-acre site in Williamstown, Ark Encounter was the vision of Ken Ham, president and CEO of creationist Christian group Answers in Genesis.
"In a world that is becoming increasingly secularized and biased, it's time for Christians to do something of this size and this magnitude," said Ham at the opening yesterday.
An independent study by America's Research Group (ARG) estimates the park will attract between 1.4 million and 2.2 million people in its first year. Its founders expect perhaps more than 40% of visitors will be non-Christians.
"I believe you're going to find all sorts of people from all walks of life with all sorts of religious backgrounds who are going to come here," said Ham.
"And even if they don't share our biblical view, they can't help but be impressed by the structure, craftsmanship and by the attention to detail of the world-class exhibits inside. And who knows? Maybe they'll be challenged to even talk about the Bible."
To accommodate the crowds expected within the first few weeks, the Ark will open for '40 days and nights' – rain or shine -- from 9am to midnight, after which hours will be 10am to 6pm. Admission is $40 for adults, $31 for seniors and $28 for children; parking is $10.
There will be other ticket options, including combo tickets for the Ark and its sister attraction, the Creation Museum, plus a seven-day unlimited ticket to the Ark and Creation Museum.
The Answers in Genesis group is also behind The Creation Museum in Petersburg, located 60 km from the Ark Encounter, which has been visited by over 2.6 million guests since opening in 2007.