The actual number of people visiting Ark Encounter — the creationist tourist attraction built by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia — has always been a mystery. Ol’ Hambo was predicting more than 1.4 million visitors for the first year, but he has never provided actual numbers.
Four months ago we saw an unofficial figure of one million visitors for the ark’s first year which had just ended, and we blogged about that here: Ark Encounter Ticket Sales Figures Released. We’ve been hoping to see figures from the state of Kentucky, because they’re going to pay Hambo a kickback of 25% of the sales tax the ark pays to the state. So far, nothing has been seen from that source.
But there’s another potential source of information. As you know, the City of Williamstown, where the ark is located, has assessed a tax of fifty cents per ticket sold to ark visitors. The last time we wrote about that subject was Ken Ham Caves on the Ticket Tax.
Our clandestine operative in Kentucky — code-named “Blue Grass” — has obtained what appears to be publicly available information from the City of Williamstown. He assures us that this information is freely available through the Kentucky Open Records Act, and he sent us copies of the documents he obtained from the city. Here’s the story, starting in July when the city’s tax first went into effect:
July of 2017: 142,626 tickets sold
Tax ($.50 per ticket) was $71,313.00
August 2017: 106,161 tickets sold
Tax ($.50 per ticket) was $53,080.50
September 2017: 83,330 tickets sold
Tax ($.50 per ticket) was $41,665.00
October 2017: 93,659 tickets sold
Tax ($.50 per ticket) was $46,829.50
Observe that ticket sales drop substantially starting with September, when kids go back to school. Presumably, the three summer months will be the best, while the rest of the year will be between 83,000 and 93,000 per month. Assuming lower numbers in the winter, that’s nine months averaging 85,000 tickets sold each month, which is 765,000 tickets. Plus three summer months when 142,000 tickets are sold (using the ark’s best month), that’s 426,000 tickets, for a grand total of 1,191,000 tickets per year. That’s less than Hambo’s original estimate of 1.4 million visitors, but it’s still a good number.
Adult tickets cost $40.00, and kids’ tickets are much less. We don’t know the ratio of adults to kids, so we won’t even try to estimate the total revenue, but it’s substantial enough to keep the ark afloat — so to speak. Whether sales can continue at that volume into the future remains to be seen.
Our clandestine operative plans to request the figures every three months, so we’ll keep you advised.
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