The last time we wrote about ticket sales at Ark Encounter, the creationist tourist attraction built by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), was a fortnight ago: Dismal Attendance at Hambo’s Ark Encounter. In that post we said:
A scan of our previous posts reveals that according to ol’ Hambo’s estimated attendance figures, the ark should attract 1,400,000 visitors a year — see Why No News about Ark Ticket Sales? That means the ark should be getting over 3,800 ticket-buying visitors a day, and presumably that would be even more on weekends. Yet on the most recent Sunday, the parking lot was almost empty.
We still haven’t seen any actual figures, but it appears that some kind of public relations effort is being made to address rumors that the roadside attraction might be a financial fiasco. At the website of television station WLWT, the NBC affiliate in Cincinnati, Ohio, not far from ol’ Hambo’s infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum, we read: Riding wave of popularity, Ark Encounter exceeds attendance projections. They have a comments feature. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us:
The Ark Encounter in Williamstown is riding a wave of popularity, exceeding attendance projections after being open for less than three months.
[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] What’s the source of that information? We’re told:
“It’s really exciting to see all of the people interested in Noah’s ark,” said Mike Zovath, co-founder of Answers in Genesis, which owns the Ark and the Creation Museum.
Yes, it’s exciting. Then they say:
Just nine weeks after the Ark Encounter opened, it has already greeted 300,000 visitors. That’s about the same number as the population of Cincinnati.
Wow — that’s more than 33,000 visitors per week. Is that possible? And were all of those people ticket buyers? If so, and if they were all adults, they each paid $40. That would be an incredible $12 million in revenue for the first 9 weeks. But of course they weren’t all adults. Assuming half were children, whose tickets cost “only” $28 (free if under the age of 5), that’s $4.2 million for 150,000 kiddie tickets and another $6 million for 150,000 adult tickets. Plus $10 for parking — unless they came by bus. So assuming half were kids, and ignoring parking revenue, that’s over $10 million in ticket sales for the first 9 weeks. At least that’s what Mike Zovath’s visitor figure suggests.
Let’s see now, that’s well over $1 million per week, so if things keep going at that rate, the ark will generate over $52 million per year. M’god — they’ll be able to pay off the whole bond issue they used to build the thing in just a couple of years. We’re also ignoring revenue from gift shop sales.
Skipping a few paragraphs that describe how wonderful visitors think the attraction is, we’re told:
The draw to the Ark is also having an impact on the Creation Museum. Zovath said attendance is up 75 percent, and he expects even better results in the coming year. “We’ve got spring break, that’s going to be a huge time,” Zovath said. “It’s huge to the Creation Museum. It’s going to be huge here.”
We don’t know what to believe. Your Curmudgeon is one of those prudent people who prefers verifiable data, rather than mere assertions. We’d like to see the actual sales tax figures, or some authoritative statement from the outfit’s accountants, or maybe something from the underwriters of the bonds that financed the ark’s construction. But nothing like that is being released. Instead, all we have is a claim from the co-founder of Hambo’s creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis. So make of it what you will, dear reader.
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