Hundreds of thousands of people will soon flock to Williamstown, Kentucky, to visit the Ark Encounter, opening July 7, 2016. Enthusiastic supporters and critical skeptics have speculated what guests will experience, leading to some interesting misconceptions.
Two of the biggest misconceptions are that it is an exact reconstruction of Noah’s Ark, and that it must be seaworthy to really accomplish its mission. No, it is a themed attraction designed to instruct and entertain, as it communicates the truth of Scripture. And it does not need to survive stormy seas to do so. The goal is to excite imaginations about the scale and complexity of the real Ark and the global Flood, as described in God’s Word.
The two Arks are the same size, but the interior layout must be different.
Wheelchair-accessible ramps and broad walkways are a must in today’s world. No twenty-first-century guest is truly prepared for all the rigors of a full-blown, Noah-like experience. Cafes will be on two floors, and vending areas and large restrooms will be on every floor. Assisted by modern but well-disguised lighting, heating, and air conditioning, guests will enjoy stepping into moments of Noah’s experience that allow them to imagine they are there. No one wants to experience true cabin fever for a day, let alone a whole year!
Also, many of the spaces Noah would have used for animals and supplies are filled with teaching exhibits. The Pre-Flood World room is followed by Flood Geology, the Ice Age, Babel, Ancient Man, Flood Legends, Animal Kinds, Why the Bible Is True, and many other exhibits.
A Half-Ark Model—a twelve-foot (4 m) cross-section of the Ark—details the various mechanical systems Noah may have used. Guests can see how many scores of storage rooms and hundreds of cages were needed, without having to squeeze between bilge pumps and shinny up rigging to walk past them all.
One thing in particular will be true of both Arks; they carry precious cargo. Noah’s Ark carried the ancestors of the world’s Savior. The Ark Encounter will host people who need to hear the good news about that Savior, Jesus Christ, who will rescue from destruction all who believe in Him.