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Ark Encounter in Grant County celebrates one-year anniversary, exceeds state attendance projections

The internationally renowned Ark Encounter theme park south of Cincinnati, celebrated its first anniversary over the weekend, continuing to welcome thousands of guests to the massive 510-foot-long reproduction of Noah’s Ark.

The life-sized Noah’s Ark that is the centerpiece of the Ark Encounter in Grant County. The attraction just celebrated its one-year anniversary (photo by Mark Hansel).

The life-size Ark and its sister attraction, the Creation Museum in Petersburg, have become major national and international tourist destinations. Almost every day, several nations are represented; in addition, last week reporters from two European countries and one Asian nation toured the Ark.

“What strikes me as I walk through the large parking lots of both attractions,” is that about 95 percent of the vehicles have out-of-state license plates,” said Answers in Genesis co-founder Ken Ham. “On a given summer day, more than 10,000 guests, traveling here in thousands of vehicles, will visit one of our attractions. It’s become a huge tourist hit.”

The attractions are owned and operated by the nonprofit ministry Answers in Genesis (AiG). AiG reports that after its opening on July 7, 2016, the Ark, in its first ten weeks, welcomed 325,000 visitors. That figure is significant because a study commissioned by the state predicted that it would draw only 325,000 visitors the first year.

An interior exhibit at the ARK features a blacksmith (photo by Mark Hansel).

For its part, AiG used America’s Research Group (ARG) to conduct nationwide market research on the Ark Encounter and predicted attendance to be 1.4 – 2.2 million for a normal year of operation.

The Ark did not open until the middle of the tourist season in July of 2016, but its first, non-normal year has still seen 1 million visitors. AiG predicts that the second year’s attendance will be closer to the high end of the ARG figure, based on several factors, including that hundreds of motor coaches are booked to come, other group bookings are also increasing and people now having ample time to plan their vacations to the Ark.

One motor coach company is bringing more than 400 bus loads this year, and is predicting even larger numbers for next spring and summer. The Ark has had days with 40 buses in its parking lot, with another 30 at the Creation Museum—nearly all of them from outside AiG’s tristate area of Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.

The economic impact in the region led the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau to award AiG the Star of Tourism Award this year.

“The economic impact of the attractions has demonstrated the state’s wisdom in offering incentives for qualifying tourist attractions to build in the Commonwealth,” AiG co-founder Mark Looy said. “Directly and indirectly, Kentucky, because of the Ark and the museum, has already benefited from thousands of new jobs and has seen more money available for state programs, which reduces the tax burden of its residents.”

Located south of Cincinnati at exit 154 off I-75, the Ark Encounter is within a day’s drive of almost two thirds of America’s population. In addition to the full-scale Noah’s Ark with three decks of world-class exhibits in over 120,000 square feet, the campus of the Ark Encounter theme park includes the Ararat Ridge Zoo (with petting zoo), zip lines, live entertainment, a 1,500-seat themed restaurant, and fair-trade shopping.

The hours of operation and tickets are available at ArkEncounter.com.

Answers in Genesis

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  1. Terry Brannon says:

    The Ark is one great attraction !

  2. carl says:

    I’m looking forward to taking my family there within the next few years. It’ll probably be built up even more by then!

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