Editor’s note: This article was adapted from a news release that was recently distributed to the media.
In response to requests from visitors, the grounds of the Ark Encounter will be open to the public for shopping and dining at no charge (except for the cost of parking), from November 1, 2017, to February 28, 2018. Guests will be able to observe up close the outside of the impressive 510-foot-long Ark, shop inside its large gift store offering extensive fair-trade items and at other artisan stores, and grab a meal at Emzara’s buffet restaurant just a few steps from the Ark. The various stores at the Ark Encounter feature one of the largest inventories of fair-trade items in the US.
Also at no cost during that time frame, guests can stroll through the ever-expanding Ararat Ridge Zoo and petting zoo area to view their exotic collection. Located behind the Ark, the zoo showcases zebras, red kangaroos, Tibetan yaks, llamas, alpacas, camels, ostriches, emus, and more. The Ark Encounter, owned and operated by Answers in Genesis, is located in Williamstown, Kentucky (south of Cincinnati), at exit 154 off I-75.
As visitors enjoy the Ark Encounter grounds and zoo for free during this time (parking $10 per car) from November 1 through February 28, they can purchase tickets at the usual price to go inside the Ark and experience the three massive decks of world-class exhibits. Children, teens, and adults can also purchase tickets for a camel or donkey ride, and ride the thrilling zip lines. The Ark is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
During the Christmas season and into the New Year, Ark guests can also experience the wonder of a spectacular new event called “ChristmasTime at the Ark.” From December 8 – January 15, three times each evening (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), visitors will watch a spectacular animated show, “Encounter the Wonder,” that uses 15 video projectors, with the side of the massive Ark as a screen. The Ark will become a 510-foot-long, 5-story-high screen for this high-tech projection show, with a superb sound system to accompany the striking animation.
A script and storyboards are being used by technicians to create “3D mapping” of this animated show. The program begins in Genesis, continues to Noah’s Flood, proceeds to the account of Christ’s birth, and concludes with the message of the Cross. “Encounter the Wonder” will be shown three times every evening December 8 – January 15 at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., and 9 p.m. The 10-minute world-class animation show will depict animals walking up the Ark ramp, the floodwaters rising, a cutaway of the Ark’s three decks so guests can peer inside, and other striking images.
Ken Ham, AiG CEO/President and visionary behind the Ark Encounter and the “Encounter the Wonder” video projection, declared: “Our guests will encounter the wonder of the incredible Ark and the Christmas message in a very special way. Christians and non-Christians alike will enjoy this technologically cutting-edge program.”
Each evening, as the Ark is lit up in rainbow lights, guests can purchase a Christmas buffet at a reasonable cost, meet adorable zoo animals, listen to live music, shop for one-of-a-kind gifts, including dozens of fair-trade items, and much more. The gift shops display unique, hand-made gift items that help support underprivileged people around the world.
“ChristmasTime at the Ark” is free except for the cost of parking; tickets must be purchased to walk inside the Ark and take any rides. “ChristmasTime at the Ark” begins at 4:30 p.m. and closes at 9:15 p.m.; the park opens at 9 a.m.
With huge crowds throughout the year of sometimes 8,000 a day visiting, Ark attendance continues to be strong outside the summer vacation months. Over 50 buses can sometimes be seen in the parking lot, and this past Saturday over 6,000 guests toured the Ark.
Meanwhile, the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., 45 minutes away, is gearing up for its own special Christmas activities. The annual Christmas Town program will run December 15 – 30 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). The museum grounds will be decked with beautiful light displays (tens of thousands of lights total) to decorate the scenic Creation Museum gardens, and returning features include a live nativity, an outdoor drama highlighting the story of the Magi, other biblical characters throughout the gardens, and an expanded marketplace. ChristmasTown attracts up to 7,000 people an evening from several states throughout the region.
Free Events at AiG Attractions
Ark Encounter (Williamstown)
November 1–February 28, 2018
Ark grounds open all day at no charge except only the cost of $10 parking (extra charge to enter the Ark and other ticketed activities). 9 a.m.—6 p.m. through December 7; until 9:15 p.m. from December 8 through January 15. Past January 15 and through the winter, there will be no tours of the inside of the Ark in the evenings.
December 8–January 15, 2018
ChristmasTime at the Ark. Free event (parking $10). Each evening watch the stunning state-of-the-art video projection and walk the beautifully lit grounds and zoo. Extra cost to go inside the Ark and for other ticketed activities. 4:30—9:15 p.m.
Creation Museum (Petersburg)
December 15–30, 5–9 p.m.
ChristmasTown at the Creation Museum. Outdoor lights and festivities free for only the cost of parking ($5). Tickets must be purchased to enter the Creation Museum, experience a planetarium program, take camel rides, and ride the ziplines.
(Both attractions are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.)
More about the events at the Ark Encounter occurring through February, including “ChristmasTime at the Ark,” can be found at ArkEncounter.com. For the Creation Museum’s ChristmasTown events, see CreationMuseum.org.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics (i.e., Bible-defending) ministry based in Northern Kentucky, near Cincinnati. AiG opened the Ark Encounter, a one-of-a-kind historically themed attraction last year with a massive Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky, which sometimes draws 8,000 guests in a day. Built according to the biblical dimensions in Genesis chapter 6, the Ark is 510 feet in length, making it the largest freestanding, timber-frame structure in the world. The Creation Museum, located west of the Cincinnati Airport, has welcomed millions of visitors since opening in 2007 and has proved to be a major family attraction in the Midwest.