A Noah's Ark in the US

A Noah's Ark in the US

A Noah's Ark in Kentucky, USA

Ark Encounter is a Christian theme park that opened in Grant County, Kentucky on July 7, 2016. The centerpiece of the park is a full-scale model of Noah's Ark.

July 14, 2016 | Bern, Switzerland. | A. Mazza, CD-EUDNews.

Ark Encounter is a Christian theme park that opened in Grant County, Kentucky on July 7, 2016. The centerpiece of the park is a full-scale model of Noah's Ark 510 feet (160 m) long, 85 feet (26 m) wide, and 81 feet (25 m) high. Other attractions at the park include a petting zoo and zip-line course. Plans for additional phases of the park include a model of the Tower of Babel, along with replicas of an ancient walled city and a first-century Middle Eastern village. Ark Encounter is operated by Answers in Genesis (AiG), the Young Earth creationism group that operates the Creation Museum 45 miles (72 km) away in Petersburg, Kentucky.

On arrival, visitors ride a shuttle from the 4,000-space parking lot along a 1 mile (1.6 km) path to the ark. The ark contains 132 bays, each standing about 18 feet (5.5 m) high, arranged into three decks. Vistors enter on the lowest deck and move between decks on ramps constructed through the center of the ark. Bays on the first deck contain models of some animals that AiG believes were on the ark; there are no live animals within the ark. The models are meant to represent "kinds" of animals, which AiG maintains gave rise to modern animals through a process of rapid speciation following the flood. Dinosaurs and unicorns are among the models presented.

The second deck contains more animal models, along with dioramas of Noah's workshop and a blacksmith. Bays on the third deck contains displays presenting AiG's theories about what may have happened inside and outside the ark during the flood. Displays in three of the bays display artifacts from the Green Collection and promote the Museum of the Bible, a Washington, D.C. attraction currently being constructed by the Green Family, who donated to the Ark Encounter's construction.

The ark is held 15 feet (4.6 m) off the ground by a series of concrete towers, and the back (or "starboard") side of the hull merges into three 80-foot (24 m) masonry towers containing stairwells, elevators, and restrooms. A 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) gift shop is positioned below the ark, while a restaurant called Emzara's Kitchen – an allusion to the traditional Jewish name for Noah's wife – is located behind the ark.The Ararat Ridge Zoo, a free petting zoo, is also part of the attraction. At opening, a zip-line course and a restaurant atop the ark had not yet been completed.

On December 1, 2010, the the Young Earth creationism group Answers in Genesis (AiG) and the for-profit corporation Ark Encounter, LLC announced that they would partner to build a theme park called Ark Encounter that, as they claimed, would "lend credence to the biblical account of a catastrophic flood and to dispel doubts that Noah could have fit two of every kind of animal onto a 500-foot-long ark". The partners projected that the fully completed park would cost $150 million, which they intended to raise privately. The announcement said the organisation had considered sites across the nation and favored an 800-acre (3.2 km2) parcel near Interstate 75 in Grant County, Kentucky, near the city of Williamstown. The site is about 45 miles (72 km) from AiG's Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.

On November 12, 2015, AiG announced that Ark Encounter would open on July 7, 2016, a date (7/7) chosen to correspond with Genesis 7:7: "And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood." AiG began pre-selling tickets in January 2016. Because the opening date would occur during the summer vacations season, AiG also announced that, for the first 40 days and 40 nights of Ark Encounter's operation – an allusion to the inundation period (rain and subterranean hydrological eruptions) of the biblical flood – it would extend its hours of operation, offering day and evening tickets to ensure that the park did not exceed its 16,000 visitor capacity.

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