Ark Encounter opens on Thursday in Grant County with high hopes
07/06/2016 01:49 PM
WILLIAMSTOWN – On Thursday the long awaited life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark will open to the public in Williamstown, and backers of the project are saying that it will measure up to the tough standards for theme park entertainment.
The $100 million cost of the project, which was raised by Answers in Genesis, which also operates the Creation Museum in Boone County, will include the completed Ark, as well as a zoo, 1,500 seat restaurant, theater, and several zip lines which are currently under construction as part of the first phase of the park.
The 510-footlong Ark stands 85 feet wide and 51 feet high which the group said is based on the Bible’s dimensions.
In the future, Ark Encounter plans to add a Walled City, the Tower of Babel, a first century Middle Eastern village, a journey in history from Abraham to the parting of the Red Sea, a walk-through aviary, and other attractions.
The Ark Encounter will also include daily live mammal shows, live bird shows, an extensive interaction children’s area, live entertainment, a themed restaurant, food outposts and shopping.
Answers in Genesis co-founder and Chief Communications Officer Mark Looy says that all of the exhibits inside on three levels are all of Hollywood like quality.
“The people that we’ve hired here have worked at places like Disney and Universal studios,” Looy said. “These are some of the best artists in the theme park industry in the world, and we’re blessed to have them with us.”
While no state money was used in the direct construction of the Ark, Answers in Genesis will get 25 percent in tax credits which were initially withheld by the state over church-state separation concerns, but were later reinstated after Answers in Genesis won a lawsuit.
In addition, the city of Williamstown issued $62 million in bonds for the project.
Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, feels that critics and been unfair in blasting the Ark project.
“I don’t understand the hatred by the secularists and the atheists, this project doesn’t affect their daily lives, not one bit,” Thayer said. “Not one penny of taxpayer money has been used to build this. The Ark does qualify for a tax credit, but it’s 25 percent of the taxes that it will generate, and the state gets to keep the other 75 percent.”
The parking areas contain spots for 4,000 cars.
Eleven large shuttle buses, built in California at a cost of $3.2 million, will carry guests from the parking area along a one mile shuttle road to the Ark.
The Ark will be open for 40 days and 40 nights beginning Thursday from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm to midnight.
The cost is $40 for adults, $31 for seniors 60 and over and $28 for children ages 5-12.
Parking is an additional $10.
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