Have you ever wondered: How BIG was Noah's Ark? Now, thanks to the team at Answers in Genesis, you can see a replica of the Ark for yourself in Williamstown, Kentucky. Spanning 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, the giant ark was built using the dimensions outlined in the Bible and sits perched on a large property that also has a zoo, a playground, multiple dining venues and gift shops, and a state-of-the-art auditorium. Visitors to the Ark Encounter enter the ark and are immersed in both fact and fiction related to what it may have been like to be onboard the ark with Noah and his family.
One day tickets to the Ark Encounter are $54.95 for adults (ages 18-59), $44.95 for seniors (ages 60 and up), $24.95 for youth (ages 11-17), and $14.95 for children* (ages 5-10). Young children (ages 4 and under) are free. BUY TICKETS.
Ticket bundles are also available for multiple days or for admittance into both the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter.
* Note that children are currently free at the Ark Encounter through the remainder of 2022. Only one adult or senior ticket needs to be purchased for all child tickets in your party to be free. A maximum of ten free child tickets are available per online order (additional free child tickets may be obtained on site with proof of paid adult or senior ticket).
The Ark Encounter has a HUGE parking lot, which accommodates cars, trucks, buses, and RVs of all kinds and is easy to navigate. It's important to note, though, that the parking lot is some distance from the Ark. After parking, you go through ticket lines (which can sometimes be long) and wait to board a chartered bus, which takes you up the hill to the Ark Encounter attraction.
There is no free parking at the Ark Encounter. Parking is $15 (standard vehicle) or $20 (oversized vehicle) per day.
The Ark itself is massive - an incredible and imaginative architectural marvel. In fact, the ark is the largest timber-frame structure in the world, built in part by Amish craftsmen from standing dead timber.
When you walk inside, you will be immersed in the Biblical accounts of creation and the flood with a number of state-of-the-art interactive exhibits - including the living quarters of Noah's family, cages with lifelike sculpted animals inside, and displays that demonstrate various engineering models related to how the family may have lived and worked inside the boat (Some of the questions that experts attempt to answer are: How did they get water? How did they feed the animals? etc). There are also context exhibits, which show what the world may have been like pre-flood, a godless world when "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time" (Genesis 6:5).
There are also excellent exhibits that showcase missionary stories, various Biblical characters, and also a very well-done room that outlines the dangers of viewing Noah's Ark as a cute fairy tale with cuddly animals and a smiling, bushy-bearded Noah. We were impressed by the quality of the artwork and would love to learn more about the artists behind the exhibits.
Our family all greatly enjoyed the graphic novel exhibit on the top floor (at the every end of the Ark Encounter - don't walk by it or miss it!). Entitled Is the Bible True?, the exhibit follows three college students as they go through hardships and discover who God is and why the Bible matters for their lives. A beautiful Gospel presentation, which was done in a moving and modern way.
* It is important to note that the aspect that we appreciated the most about the Ark Encounter was that the Gospel could be found at every turn. The entire attraction obviously was built for a purpose ("to proclaim the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to a dying world") and it is wonderfully executed. Although Answers in Genesis is sometimes characterized as a a "creation versus evolution" organization, it was clear from this attraction that their primary mission is spreading the good news of salvation and hope through Jesus.
As is expected in an educational attraction of this size, some of the elements are indeed imagined. For example, Noah's wife and Noah's daughter-in-laws all have names and are given personas, despite the fact that the Bible does not explicitly name them. Another example would be that there are some sculpted animals that we cannot know with certainty if they existed inside the ark (or at all!). We felt that these additions were well-done and did not distract from the overall message of truth presented. In all of these cases, there are corresponding displays where you can read more about the theories and conclusions of historians, scientists, and Biblical scholars.
Our top tip for visiting the Ark Encounter is - Don't miss the Answers Center!!! The Answers Center is an adjacent building - which is home to a 2,400-seat state-of-the-art auditorium, a gift shop, a coffee shop, and a small grab-and-go cafe. You can attend lectures, concerts, and video presentations inside the Answers Center during your visit. These presentations (included with the standard ticket) were one of the most interesting and educational aspects of our visit.
A few highlights:
A small outdoor zoo is on-site at the Ark Encounter, which includes binturongs, camels, cranes, giraffes, kangaroos, lemurs, ostriches, sheep, sloths, tortoise, and zebras. There is also a petting area (popular among preschoolers and young children!) where you can interact with goats up-close.
* The zoo and its corresponding presentations (Keeper Chats and Animal Encounters) are included with your admission ticket, but note that camel rides and camel encounters are an additional fee.
There is a large, well-designed playground at the Ark Encounter - which is a very popular place for kids of all ages to play throughout the day. There are areas that are cleverly designed for toddlers as well as taller structures for older children. The playground also has a mini zipline, which kids can use themselves.
* Use of the playground is included with your admission ticket.
There are a number of places inside the Ark Encounter where you can dine, but the most notable one is Emzara's Kitchen. This two-story, 1500-seat restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat buffet that is pricey - but surprisingly good with a variety of foods to ensure that every family member will leave satisfied. The impressive selection includes roasted vegetables, pulled pork, mashed potatoes, and breadsticks, among many other dishes. Included desserts on the day of our visit were cakes, butterscotch pudding, chocolate pudding, and blueberry donut holes. A drink is included with unlimited self-serve refills of soda, coffee, and tea.
GOOD TO KNOW:
There are a number of snack bars and casual dining options at the Ark Encounter, including:
Although there are many picnic tables around the property, the website states that outside food and drinks are not permitted.
If you are visiting with a baby or toddler, consider these tips:
The interior of the ark is air-conditioned in hot weather and heated in cold weather so you will be comfortable inside. That being said, many parts of the experience are outdoors (zoo, playground, zipline, etc) so we recommend that you dress for the weather.
We stayed in our RV at Whispering Hills RV Park in Georgetown, Kentucky, which is about 30 minutes directly south on I-75. Whispering Hills was a great RV campground near the Ark Encounter. Among the amenities were a swimming pool with waterslide, a playground, a DVD and lending library, and a lake for fishing.
If we return in the future without our RV, I would likely consider Riverside Inn Bed & Breakfast (Warsaw, Kentucky - 42 minutes away) or Comfort Suites (Dry Ridge, Kentucky - 13 minutes away), both of which are highly rated.
The Ark Encounter is about an hour north of Lexington, KY and 45-60 minutes south of Cincinnati, OH.
On our next trip to this area, we hope to:
The Ark Encounter and Creation Museum are both attractions which are owned and operated by Answers in Genesis. In fact, you can buy 2-day ticket bundles to visit both attractions.
Here is a very quick overview/comparison:
The Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter are approximately a 45-minute drive from each other.
Can our school or church bring a group to the Ark Encounter?
Absolutely! 2022 is a great year to do it since children ten and under are currently free!
Ark Encounter also offers Overnight Adventures where youth groups can spend the night inside the Ark.
How much does the zipline cost and is it worth it?
There are several options:
We did not do the zipline on our recent one-day visit and, truth be told, we barely noticed it was even there. I'm sure it would be fun if you have a multi-day ticket, but we had plenty to do inside our one day window.
Will I have enough to do if I don't pay for the extras?
There are a lot of add-ons at the Ark Encounter - including the zipline, virtual reality, camel rides, camel encounters, a mining sluice and fossil find, an all-you-can-eat buffet, ice cream cones, snacks and sundries of all kinds, and gift shop souvenirs.
Rest assured, you can still have fun on your standard ticket alone since it includes the ark itself, shows at the Answers Center, the zoo, and the playground. It would be a good idea to budget in spending money for food though since everyone has a better time on a full stomach.
How much time should we plan to spend at the Ark Encounter?
The one-day day was perfect for our family, but we did maximize our day - arriving right on time and staying all the way until closing. If you plan to add-on the zipline, virtual reality, or other attractions, two days would be better.
Have a wonderful time at the Ark Encounter!