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The Ark Encounter: Plan Your Visit

Updated: 1 day ago

If you've ever wondered what Noah's Ark might have looked like, this is the place for you. This life size replica is built according to scale to give the visitor an overwhelming feeling of massive possibility. The Ark Encounter is a big deal, this will help you plan your visit.

Me and the Ark, at the Ark Encounter
They built the ark far from the road, to give you the experience of walking up and appreciating the size of the structure

Now you know I love to travel! My recent work trip to Lexington Kentucky was a great opportunity for me to explore some uncharted territory. My favorite part was definitely getting up into the Red River Gorge and climbing over Natural Bridge. I do love my time surrounded by nature. This was a special treat.


Kentucky was full of beautiful nature and a distinct landscape. They call it the Blue Grass state because of a calcium- and phosphate enriched grass. While I didn't see a lot of blue, I did see rugged wilderness, mountains, hills, fields and really cool geological landmarks. I stayed in the historic Campbell House of Lexington, the Curio Collection by Hilton. This was a place with a lot of character. Older small rooms with tight bathrooms, big closets, and beautiful gather areas around the hotel grounds. I'd stay again as I didn't spend much time in the room and enjoyed the centrally located access to everything.

 

So many people recommended I visit the Ark while I was in Lexington, that I decided to check it out! I did not pre-research, so I am writing this as a guide that would have helped me to prepare and enjoy this experience even more. (I usually always do some digging prior to paying an entrance fee or driving anywhere - but time was limited!)


Williamstown Kentucky is about 40 minutes north of Lexington, where I was staying. It was a straight shot on the road. Traffic was light and it was easy to find with use of GPS. 🚗🚗🚗

These are all positives!


The rainbow arch at the Ark Encounter
God's promise: The Rainbow!

The Ark Encounter

1 Ark Encounter Dr.

Williamstown, KY 41097

(859)727-2222

Prices can vary with combo passes if you add the Creation Museum or a Bouncer Pass which allows for admission for a year, and free parking.

Prices of a one-day pass look like this?

Adult (18 - 59) $59.00

Senior (60+) $49.00

Youth (11-17) $31.99

Children 10 and under are free.



Date of visit: 6/13/24, a Thursday late afternoon/ early evening, not crowded at all.

Parking: $15.00

Day ticket to the Ark: $59.00

Time spent at the Ark: 3.5 Hours (parking to leaving)

The Ark encounter does not offer any discounts
Ark Encounter prices are fixed, no discounts given.

I stopped at a convenience/ gas station across the street from the Ark Experience to grab some water and snacks, I figured if I purchased items inside it would be costly. I made a good call! I am a traveler on a strict budget.

 

What’s the experience? Spiritual or Religious? If you set yourself up for a tourist attraction, you will not be disappointed. If you are looking for biblical accuracy, this will not fill your cup, however it does bring the ark itself as a physical reality to life.


What I appreciated: design and cultural art that attempted to stay true to the time. Exhibits are well made with a lot of thought and skill built into the intricate details. If I had a ton of children under age 10, this would be a win of a trip for a day. There is a lot to do for the while family experience. They make this as impactful as possible.



Arrival: This is a multi-step process.

1.Drive up to the parking pass kiosk, pay, find parking.

2. Proceed to the ticket booth. Buy or show your ticket.

3. Walk through security.

4. Load up and ride a shuttle bus about 1 mile to the actual Ark site.

5. Bus stops at the “Answers in Genesis” building where there is a lot to see and options for shopping, but the entrance to the ark is found by walking through the rainbow arch!

6. The walk up to the ark takes you through a large courtyard area with lots of space.

**Plan to walk a lot!

🚓🚍🚶‍♀️


First impressions matter:

I was excited to see what the ark was all about! I was hopeful they’d do Noah justice, and heard it had a positive message.

*I didn’t realize the Ark was so far from the initial entry when I arrived.

*It’s quite a production and laid out with the theme park vibe. I felt like this was a Universal Studio’s trip with all of the extra steps.

*I was glad there were no major crowds while I was there and imagining how less meaningful it would have been if it were packed with the volume of people they appear to be expecting.


Stepping off the bus is the “Answers” of Genesis…

I was looking for the ark entry and wandering for a bit before I connected that walking through the rainbow arch was the official beginning of the journey.

*You’ll encounter live music stages (live Blue Grass concert was in progress), a café, (lots of eating options), souvenir/ gift shops, a zoo, zip lining and playground for additional enjoyment. Lots of areas for making the most of an entire day and spending time here as a family is being promoted in every turn.

*I walked the trail of the monuments on the walk toward the ark, this adds some context. Along the path tells of some Genesis stories, memorialized on stone monuments, making the feeling of ancient Egypt. It was a hot summer afternoon and I thought this is a lot of walking! Someone should advertise that if you are not a person who intended to get your steps in, you might be a little worn out by the time you get to the actual ark!



Rounding the corner I finally arrived at the Ark. I thought I was there! But no, not yet....


To enter, I walked through the Garden of Eden. This scenic little garden was less impressive and a nice precursor. This could definitely be expanded or improved... Then I entered a turnstile area. I’m not sure what that was about I walked past it all - at this point I was just ready to get into the ark. I walked up the ramp and into the level 1!


Entering the ark is a massive feeling. WOW! It’s built to size and an excellent replica model.

Being there with few others, I really felt the magnitude. Imagining that there were 8 people on board with all of the animals and stuff swept over me. It felt possible. The point of the Ark is to give you a picture of possibility. Made to scale and accurate in building design (as much as given in scripture), this gives a very strong impression of the entire world being repopulated by one family.


It’s a powerfully realistic walk through long, huge corridors, with animal cases, cages, and storage compartments. This part of the Ark is unquestionably worth the ticket and a few hours to absorb. I imagined being one of 8 people in a mansion this size, you could never cross paths with another family member if you didn’t want to. There are exhibits that break down many of the questions and dispute some of the popular science that is typically taught today.


Sign in the Ark Encounter explaining
The Ark Experience admits some artistic Interpretation


You can't have a structure this big and not put some high-quality exhibits inside. I understand the need to create what Noah's world may have looked like. While some of what the Ark creators suggest was interesting, some was a bit too out of scripture for my comfort. If you really like your scripture to be accurate and well translated, you will enjoy the 3rd floor.





Once I was inside of the ark, I quickly turned from happily impressed to skeptical and frustrated.


Assuming the creators of the Ark (Ken Ham of Australia) based this experience around biblical information we must be true to the limited information we are given. There is some need to translate and imagine with the details - but the black and white facts should just be given accurately.


Noah’s predicament scripturally begins in Genesis 6:1 where it reads:

1 When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with[a] humans forever, for they are mortal[b]; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.


The word and meaning of Nephilim has been studied intensely for many years. It is agreed upon by scholars that this is a race created by Angel and Human genetics being mixed. The fallen angels who left their place in the heavens came and "went into the daughters of mankind". This leads to violent giants being born on earth. Yes, there was corruption, but sin was already established by Adam and Eve. The corruption of the time of Noah refers to the seed of man. The flood is to cleanse our DNA, not to wipe out sin. Sin happened before and after the flood, to insinuate this would be to say the flood was a failure. Removing this context from the Ark encounter makes it lack the supernatural fiber.


Later in Gensis 6:9 where Noah is described as “blameless in his generations” it alludes more to the fact that his bloodline was pure, as opposed to the rest of humanity which had become corrupted through the angel's interference. God tells Noah to build an Ark for him and his 3 sons, and they take wives to restart humanity.

photo of a fallen angel
Fallen Angels created the race of nephilim

No where in the exhibits is the word “Nephilim” used. Instead, the creators changed the word to “giants”, so it reads, “the giants were on earth in those days”. This is not biblically accurate and hurts the understanding of the experience. As this is such a big point to the story I couldn’t get passed it.


Why did it matter that there were giants if they were not a part of the problem?


The art scenes here show dinosaurs living with man being mistreated as part of the wicked going on. I was okay with the mixing of dinosaurs and man, and able to wrap my brain around some of the other connections they make, but the complete disregard of why this happened was hard to shake off…


Another point emphasized here is that it had never rained before. I wasn't sure about that either, although I was again curious.


The rest of the first-floor features animal habitats with mostly made-up animal kinds introducing the idea that after the flood the animals created new species with their own interbreeding. Perhaps everything prior to the flood was much larger sized and afterwards, the climate of earth changed and thus things adapted.


In the Beginning God Created
Art work of creation at the Ark Encounter

Climbing up the ramp to the second floor, I had a pep talk with myself to mentally reset. I was greeted by a video playing an interview of a local reporter and Noah, who had vastly different views of the ark. Rounding the corner is a children’s “spooky walk”.  As there were no others around, I walked through and could see how that would be a fun little walk for children to take here. They appeal to every visitor regardless of age, or background.

Fun for all ages at the Ark Encounter
The Spooky Walk in Noah's Ark Encounter

The spaces on the second level are really artistically made. These have a museum feel, while they a hope to connect culture, humanity and truth.


Seeing how the rooms are set up and Noah's family is depicted was cool. Imaginatively we assume they were born in a time with no formal education or training - when in all actuality they could have had skills! The artists assume some wood working, iron, and iron working would have been helpful. If each member brought a skill set, this would have been essential to continuing man's livelihood after the ark. Viewing this journey as taken by intelligent skilled humans who prepared for this trip intentionally storing what they would need shifted my mood. Even the kitchen set up with plants and herbs was interesting to see. While this is speculation and creative license, (and the signs absolutely state that) it was great to imagine the ark from a new perspective than picturing the people and animals all curled up together in the dark.



I loved the possibilities of floor two.

This section while being an imagination of how life on the ark could have been, was not credited as being based on biblical reference, and was very thought provoking.



Noah had prior knowledge of the flood coming to properly design, plan, and build however he needed to. How could it have been? Could he have possibly used giants to help with this gigantic project?


Noah's Ark: storing food
I loved the ingenuity, one way to store food

What would Noah have done with the time and intention of prepping humanities’ survival?  Would there be a library? History? Art? Herbal remedies? Medicine on board the ship? Would the all-knowing God ensure the eight people riding into the next chapter of the world were skilled at different scopes of work? I never imagined before. I guess my vision of the ark was a much smaller vessel smashing along in the waves with a family asleep on a floor laying on blankets among the animals which crowd all around them. I did watch a lot of cartoons as a child. This exhibit featuring the rooms and living space gave me a lot to consider. I thought of the pyramids of Egypt, where one has to wonder how the precision was possible for the people of that time to create such intricate structures that were so precise! Perhaps Noah had serious skills, and his sons were all well versed in building. Maybe some giants helping him build the ark!? Clearly, those who worked on this project with him able to masterfully pull off the largest ship of that era, comparatively to a modern-day cruise ship in terms of square footage. It doesn't say Noah did it alone.

~All things are possible with God. (Luke 1:37)


Floor two also states that all the toy arks for kids set us up for unrealistic expectations and unbiblical beliefs. Not sure I agree. But something to ponder.

Levels of the Ark Encounter
The 3 levels of the ark feature spaces to fit many

I feel intrigued now as I move on to the next exhibit which considers the geological young earth philosophy. While this is not something I grew up with, some scholars I much love and respect have introduced this theory to me. In all fairness, young earth or old earth, no one can really say as it’s all scientific speculation. I admire the ability to think critically and consider differing facts from the ones we are most comfortable. It's interesting.


I walk through and try to keep an open mind, however their ice age perspective definitely loses me in the weeds. I can see how fossil and rock are impacted on a worldwide scale by the flood. The land slide makes sense. I had already read some of this research prior to seeing the Grand Canyon for myself so when they use the Grand Canyon as an example of this theory, I am still curious and rethinking the time calculations, and possibility of error in computing. We are human after all. Science continues to discover new information and go to new levels of understanding.

Up to the third level.



Here is a look at different ethnicities and cultures, aligning with the Ark as a genetic frame of possibility. One exhibit shows all of the cultures around the world with a flood story in their history (spoiler alert, every continent and major group). Another exhibit shows how mankind genetically diverts from 8 individuals. DNA strands could have been divided into he precise groups we now have on earth. Another perspective looks at measuring population growth, and the Tower of Babal.


I wander into a room that rests well with my soul, it’s a biblical scribe journey. This section has some connection to the Museum of the Bible from Washington DC, and may not always be on display. Having been to that museum, I enjoyed the exhibit. This was perhaps my favorite part! Tracing the roots of the bible through new languages, including the first bible in America, and translated to Cherokee. Many languages only developed a written language because they wanted the bible in their own tongue.


Back out into the main corridor is the story of the timeline of history from Adam to Jesus. This is many feet long and a huge pictograph. Super awesome to see in real life. I've seen smaller versions offered online as fold out maps.


Visual of the flood beginning
Visual of the Springs Breaking open from under the Ocean

Then there is a college kid’s journey though salvation, and the dilemma brings up many questions of modern-day skeptics. It was a bit cartoony, so I moved quickly through, but see how some would spend time in this section.


Overall, the ark was an eye-opening experience. The size and animal exhibit. design was the big take away for me. Just being able to see how Noah’s ark was bought to life gave me some relief.

As far as the philosophy, I am not sure I agree with all of the explanation. With young earth, I have heard this theory before. I am not sure I disagree, and I am certainly interested to see the science and evidence supporting this perspective. I enjoyed many of the exhibits and did not think it was all connected to scripture. I enjoyed the connection to Jesus being the ultimate savior, as well as Noah foreshadowing how Jesus would later come to redeem all men.



Outside, I took a few photos, and walked through the circular path of the Zoo, checking out some lemurs, kangaroos, and other interesting species!


The Zoo was a nice touch, and it would be better to maybe show some historical animal facts in relation to how they could have survived and evolved as a species. I got some great video of some of the animals but not as many photos.



With kids: I didn’t walk over to the children’s play area, although it looked like a kid heaven! I passed right by the zip line, and many places to grab food. The entire courtyard of the ark has picnic benches and places for families to sit. It's clear they intended this to be huge. Successful. A family multiple day event.


I hopped back on the shuttle to the parking lot and saw some deer on the bank.

I got back to my car and drove out to head back to Lexington.

I did feel closer to Noah, and had a new appreciation of our Creator being outside of human understanding and limitation.


Affordability meter: 4/10

On a scale of 1-10 how affordable is this day?

With 1 being utterly unaffordable and 10 being basically free, I rate this adventure 4.

For one person to spend 4 hours here, it will cost you apx. $75.00. This does not include any food/ snacks or souvenirs. I don't usually splurge that much for a half day activity. In this case, I am glad I did. I am glad I ate lunch before and dinner after.

Considering the other activity I did in Kentucky (hiking Natural Bridge in Daniel Boone National Park) was free, I felt it was okay to balance the experience... I'd have felt better if there was a teacher discount or other way to save on that high entrance cost!


A Note for deeper study:

Dr. Michael Heiser is a biblical scholar who has published many helpful resources and books to increase understanding of the bible in cosmic view. He was a Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software, a company that produces ancient text databases and other digital resources for study of the ancient world and biblical studies. He believes that because we are foreign to the culture and ways of that world and timeframe, we often read the bible outside of some of the context of time and history the writers had. He helps connect many gaps with his extensive study knowledge. Find his website, podcast, blog HERE.


Another wonderful resource to break down farther study of the Nephilim in an easy-to-understand format is this website: The Bige, a Cosmic Perspective.


I've created a Biblical Calendar to help my family stay obedient to the feasts the most high have to mark the times and seasons. I will share this for anyone interested and look forward to any feedback you'd like to share: Biblical Calendar of the Essenes.


Visiting the Ark Encounter in KY
So happy to be here. Got my guide!

Thank you for visiting my site, I'd love your feedback, and favorite things to do!


~Wherever your travels take you, be sure to keep your presence in the moment.

~Enjoy where you are at. Be a little flexible with people and their navigation of time.

~Let go of things you can't control.

~Remember to put your people above things, and cherish the memories

~Do things that will make you proud of yourself when you remember the scenario.

~Live more, in abundance and walk in your own footsteps.

Mz. Savvy


A note from the editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning your trip. I hope this makes it easier for your planning process.


Thank you for stopping by today! Please share your thoughts and experiences, we are all on this journey to live and love together. I welcome your travel tips & tricks :-)

Thank you for subscribing, let's stay connected!


I specialize in helping families spend more time enjoying their quality time together and less time having to figure it all out. My four children have been my test subjects of how to plan a great family adventure for many years and now that my youngest is 19, many of my travels are work related, or grandma related! As time has changed, I've evolved but I still LOVE TO TRAVEL, explore, wander, visit, discover, learn and love. Where there is nature, I find my happy place. I use the term single not to emphasize my status but to signify that if I can manage some family fun on a limited teacher's salary with four children, anyone can do it. I am very intentional in how I spend my time and earnings. I plan, research and typically seek out budget friendly ways to enjoy my time, but will occasionally splurge for the right reasons :-)

Happy Travels!!


If you'd like to see more about my adventure to Natural Bridge in Daniel Boone National Forest, click here.










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