The full sized replica of Noah’s Ark being built on former farmland and less than an hour south of Cincinnati will officially open in less than 10 months.
But will it float, figuratively, that is?
Will the organization behind the massive wooden structure – the same outfit that created the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky. – get the million visitors or more that are predicted to visit the Ark Encounter in the small burg of Williamstown in Grant County?
And what will it do to – or for – that community in the coming months and years?
The Enquirer interviewed dozens of officials, experts and officials from Answers in Genesis (AIG), which is building the $92 million ark, to get some answers.
What is the Ark Encounter and when will it open?
The Ark Encounter is a full-sized replica of Noah’s Ark, as described in the book of Genesis in the Bible. It is being built using the dimensions specified in cubits. Which could have been problematic given that more than 20 different versions of a cubit exist – though it was was originally the distance from a thumb to the elbow. The builders settled on the Egyptian version of the cubit, or 20.4 inches.
That means the actual ark will be 510 feet long (almost as long as the Great American Tower is tall), 85 feet wide and more than 50 feet tall, and that's before you add the sail. It can house up to 10,000 people in a pinch, and when finished will be the largest wooden timber structure in the world.
It will include hundreds of different displays, including mock-ups of animal stalls, what the animals (yes, including miniature dinosaurs) may have looked like thousands of years ago, recreations of how Noah and his family may have lived, and even an animatronic version of Noah that will answer questions.
Science questions the creation story as being fact, including the occurrence of the Great Flood. Dinosaurs could not have existed with mankind, the overwhelming majority of scientists explain, as they had been extinct for millions of years by the timeHomo sapiens evolved.
“I’ll be the first to admit that many things and attractions in the Christian world previously have been rather cheesy and not up to scratch,” said Australian-born Ken Ham, who founded AIG in 1994 and also oversaw the construction and opening of the Creation Museum.
“People expect the quality of a Universal Studios and we’re going to give it to them.”
Presale tickets will be available starting on Jan. 19, and there will be separate day and night sessions for 40 days after the grand opening to meet the anticipated demand in the first months.
AIG officials announced Thursday that the ark will open on July 7. Admission will be $40 for adults, $31 for seniors and $28 for children, $10 to park.