AIG: A Progress Report on The Ark Park

We found some interesting news at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom. AIG is the online creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia.

Ol’ Hambo is the impresario of imbecility, the authority on absurdity, the producer of poppycock, the tycoon of tomfoolery. He’s the brains behind the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum — which has become the North American Mecca for the mindless.

Not only that, he’s also trying to raise funds for his proposed replica of Noah’s Ark — a “full-scale, all-wood ark based on the dimensions provided in the Bible (Genesis 6), using the long cubit.” This bizarre project has its own website: Ark Encounter. We’ve written about it several times, for example: Ken Ham Announces Noah’s Ark Theme Park, and recently Ken Ham on the Meaning of His Ark Park.

Today the AIG website has a progress report for us. It’s Final Piece of Land for Full-size Ark Purchased, subtitled “Ark Encounter moves forward; $5 million in donations, other updates.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us and AIG’s links omitted:

Passing another significant milestone, the Ark Encounter, LLC, closed today on the last and largest piece of land for its planned development on an 800-acre site in Williamstown, Ky., off Interstate 75 (south of Cincinnati). Under the direction of Answers in Genesis (AiG), a full-scale Noah’s Ark will be constructed as the featured attraction at the Ark Encounter. Research indicates the Ark Encounter will draw well over a million people in its first year.

Thrilling, huh? Wait ’til you read this:

In addition, the completion of complex engineering and architectural work on the Ark structure has allowed for significantly greater guest capacity inside the Ark than originally anticipated. This finding has eliminated the need to build additional biblical attractions simultaneously to accommodate the projected crowds.

That makes no sense. They haven’t changed the dimensions of the Ark, so they’ve known from the start how much interior space it would have. It sounds like this “discovery” of extra space is an excuse for not building the extra attractions they had planned. And not building the extra attractions won’t “accommodate” the projected crowds — it’ll be a lost opportunity to sell additional tickets for the extra goodies. As we reported here: Ken Ham’s Ark Park Gets Tax Incentives, the Ark Park was going to include “a Tower of Babel, petting zoos and other live animals and an assortment of Bible-themed exhibits.” Now they’re putting the Tower of Babel and the other attractions on hold. That same post also reported:

Mike Zovath, senior vice president of the Ark Encounter project, would not disclose the major investors in the project but said that project backers are still raising money and hope to have all of the $150 million needed for initial construction by the end of June [2011].

Does it sound to you, dear reader, like the money isn’t rolling in as rapidly as anticipated? Let’s read on:

Accordingly, the Ark Encounter will be built in multiple phases over many years, with the Ark and other supporting elements opening during phase one. This approach will reduce the initial construction period and funding requirements. It will also allow the utility infrastructure to be able to grow with the Ark Encounter’s expansions at a reasonable pace. Phased-in construction is also a safe way to proceed in a difficult economy.

Yup, there’s definitely a money shortage. We continue:

Even then, over $5 million in donations have already been received for the building of the Ark itself. In addition to that milestone, many more millions of dollars in memberships and private funding have been raised or committed for the construction of the other attractions surrounding the Ark, the centerpiece of the project.

It’s worse than we thought. They were predicting they’d raise $150 million by last June, for everything, but so far they’ve only got $5 million for the Ark. That’s a serious shortfall. Here’s more:

AiG continues to be encouraged to see that even in a difficult economy, thousands of supportive people have already made donations to the full-size Ark (including through the “Pegs, Planks, and Beams” sponsorship program) or have purchased boarding passes (lifetime Ark memberships). Now that the land has been secured, AiG — as more revenue is received — has the next milestone in its sights for the ambitious project: groundbreaking.

Groundbreaking — Wow! Maybe we’ll fly up there for the ceremony. Well, maybe not. They haven’t scheduled it yet — but it’s in their sights. One last excerpt:

The Ark Encounter, LLC, and AiG continue to trust the Creator of the Universe to supply the needed funds for this project, just as He did with our successful Creation Museum, even with some bumps along the way in its construction,” said co-founder and CCO Mark Looy.

Some “bumps along the way.” That’s okay, we’re confident that ol’ Hambo will see it through. The world desperately needs a replica of Noah’s Ark.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “AIG: A Progress Report on The Ark Park

  1. comradebillyboy

    OK, I’ve narrowed my vacation choices to three: Paris, Istanbul and The Arc Park in Kentucky. Which would be a more fulfilling experience, I wonder?

  2. Hambo: “…the completion of complex engineering and architectural work on the Ark structure has allowed for significantly greater guest capacity inside the Ark than originally anticipated.”

    You are right, SC — since Ham was going to build the ark to the biblical dimensions, this makes no sense — unless he’s planning to include fewer species on the ark in order to accommodate more people. But that would defeat his entire stated purpose in building the ark — to show it could hold all the species of animals on earth as well as all the food and fresh water needed. Speaking of food, what did Noah feed to the carnivores?

    Or were they on their own separate boat? (Carnivore Cruise Line?)

  3. comradebillyboy, if you make that Paris, Kentucky you could kill two birds with one stone.

  4. Ceteris Paribus

    “In addition, the completion of complex engineering and architectural work on the Ark structure has allowed for significantly greater guest capacity inside the Ark than originally anticipated.

    My surmise is that this is developer-speak for having successfully finagled a building code variance for their ark on the basis of a dog-and-pony show put on by the design architect and engineering firms.

    In simple terms, each type of building occupancy comes with a list of code requirements including minimum square footage per occupant; number and size of exits; distance to nearest exit; and so forth. Different numbers for different building materials, type of occupancy, and even adults vs small children as the occupants.

    Here’s the fun part. Codes for wood construction (such as arks) comes in two flavors – Heavy Timber; or Frame. Heavy Timber means what the name says – heavy timbers with a lot of mass for the amount of surface area, and therefore hard to ignite and carry a fire. Frame construction on the other hand is made using the familiar 2 x something lumber as found in typical low end motels, apartments, etc. Or as it is referred to in the trade “Built to Burn” construction.

    If Ark Encounter, LLC, is putting more people in the Ark than they had originally expected, my guess is that it is the result of a favorable ruling by the “Authority Having Jurisdiction”. Quite likely in the case of an amusement park that may be the office of the State Fire Marshall.

    I just wonder if the Ark will still be built of Godly heavy timber, or in the light of cost of construction, it will be (Satan, I rebuke thee!) “built to burn” framing and with a lemonade stand out front.

  5. RSG>Speaking of food, what did Noah feed to the carnivores?

    Unicorns and dragons, with elves and faeries for desert.

    RSG> Or were they on their own separate boat? (Carnivore Cruise Line?)


  6. Ceteris Paribus: “I just wonder if the Ark will still be built of Godly heavy timber, or in the light of cost of construction, it will be (Satan, I rebuke thee!) ‘built to burn’ framing and with a lemonade stand out front.”

    If it isn’t real gopher wood, I’m not going! Knowing what I do about Hambo, the latter option seem more likely, especially with his apparent funding issues.

  7. I always wondered where Noah kept all the termites & wood-worm beetles. Maybe the Appalachian Idiot will enlighten us?

  8. They have raised $5M in 14 months, with a goal of $24.5M and an opening date in 2014. They will be well short of their goal, even assuming they raise another $5M every 14 months. However, per the archives on the Ark Encounter web site, they reached $3M at the end of May 2011. Therefore, they have raised only $2M in the 8 1/2 months since, so at their current pace, they will only raise another $8M by the end of 2014, at least $10M short of their goal. Even Ham must realize he has a serious problem. Perhaps the missing $10M is accounted for by the reduced need for the “additional biblical attractions”, however the original design had the creation museum only responsible for the Ark, and the LLC responsible for the other attractions, so something is different.

    I envision a truly historic presentation – a giant ark sitting in the middle of a muddy field, with nothing else in sight but a lonely bearded man pointing welcoming visitors and asking them to wipe their feet before going in.