To add to the excitement already being generated by the movie Noah, the Creation Museum and its founder Ken Ham are all set to build a theme park with a 510-foot replica of the ark as the central focus. Speaking via a webcast from the museum on Thursday night, its founder and president Mr. Ham said, “We’re going to begin construction, and this is going to be great for the area. Let’s build the ark.” He indicated that work on the Ark Encounter park, which would spread over 800 acres, would begin in May and would be completed by the summer of 2016. Ken Ham and his ministry Answers in Genesis garnered worldwide attention earlier in February for his widely discussed debate with the Science Guy Bill Nye.
Ken Ham said that the publicity generated by the evolution-centered debate helped to add to the fund base for the ark building project. The initial plans for the ark were announced in 2010 but remained on hold due to inadequate funding. Toward the end of last year, the city of Williamstown where the park is to be located gave the organization a $62 million municipal bond offering. The Christian organization estimates that building the ark alone will cost $24.5 million, and completing the first phase of the project will require more than $70 million. The total expense of the project is estimated to be about $120 million. According to the official website, $14.4 million has come in, in the form of private donations.
The completed Noah theme park that Ken Ham is going to build will have a massive ark which would be the biggest wood framed structure in the USA as the central focus. The park, called Ark Encounter, will also have an area developed on a pre-flood theme, a typical first century village, live animal shows and a Tower of Babel with a special-effects theater. The enormity of the project has caught the interest of local officials and Rick Skinner, the Mayor of Williamstown, said the project is sure to benefit the rural community which is located a few miles south of Cincinnati. Speaking on the proposed project he said that Williamstown is happy to give the ark a home. Officials in North Kentucky expect that the project would create numerous jobs and attract commercial establishments and hotels to the area.
State development estimates predict that the Ark Encounter experience will attract thousands of visitors and draw a net fiscal collection of $119 million over a period of 10 years. Officials at Answers in Genesis have said that they will continue their fundraising in a variety of ways including lifetime boarding passes that would cost $3000 for a family and $2000 for individuals.
The project, however, is not without its share of detractors. Josh Rosenau, who is the policy director for the National Center for Science Education in California, has objected to the ark on the grounds that it depicts “a false account of world history and biology…as if it were fact.” Speaking on the subject, Bill Nye the Science Guy said he hopes that the project “goes out of business.” Ken Ham’s organization Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum are located about 40 miles from where the proposed Noah theme park will go up. The organization believes in a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis in the Bible, according to which the earth is only 6000 years old.
By Grace Stephen