Ark Encounter Park Could Open In 2016
By Mike Perleberg
(Petersburg, Ky.) – Plans to build a northern Kentucky theme park centered around a life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark are afloat once again.
The group Answers in Genesis – the same organization behind the Creation Museum in Petersburg – updated the public on the Ark Encounter theme park Thursday. AiG president and CEO Ken Ham announced that enough money has been raised to allow for the release of bond funds to start construction of the park on 800 acres off Interstate 75 in Grant County, Kentucky.
The ark hopes had seemed dead in the water. After initially being announced in 2010 for a 2014 opening, the fundraising progress had been slower than expected.
“Yes, there have been days of nervous anticipation. Many challenges and road blocks came up as we worked through the stages of the bond offering leading up to the final bond delivery. From atheists registering for the bond offering and attempting to disrupt it, to secular bloggers and some reporters writing misleading and inaccurate articles about the bonds—the obstacles were numerous and disruptive.”
Ham called the overcoming of those challenges a miracle on a human level. He also credited his much-publicized creation versus evolution debate with TV personality, scientist, and evolution proponent Bill Nye on February 4 with the fundraising boost. Over seven million people worldwide watched the debate live online.
“The date of my debate with Bill Nye had been on our calendar several months before we knew the final delivery date of the Ark bonds. But in God’s timing, not ours, the high-profile debate helped encourage more of our ministry friends to get involved in the past few weeks,” Ham said.
The bonds were offered last year by the City of Williamstown, where the park would be located, according to the Associated Press. Ham said the goal now is to raise an additional $15 million in donations for other attractions outside of the 510-foot ark replica.
The first phase of the theme park project will cost an estimated $73 million, according to AiG. Much of the land, permits, licenses, architectural plans, and exhibit designs are already secured.
Ham said the completion of the bond offering will allow for an official groundbreaking, for which a date will be announced in the next few weeks. The Associated Press reported that the groundbreaking is planned for May.
No opening date for the park was disclosed by AiG, though the AP reported the ark is expected to be finished by the summer of 2016. The construction of the entire park would happen in phases “over many years,” according to AiG.