A few days ago we wrote Hambo’s Ark — True Figures for the 2nd Year, providing the latest official figures on the paid attendance for the second year’s operation of Ark Encounter — the creationist tourist attraction built by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia.
Yesterday, Hambo himself posted this at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), his creationist ministry: What’s To Come at the Ark Encounter. A lot of it is about his future plans for the tourist attraction, but that doesn’t interest us. We’ll focus only on his discussion of attendance figures. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
We’re thrilled with attendance last year for both our attractions. Over one million guests came to the Ark, and sometimes we welcomed 7,000–8,000 visitors on busy days. Up to 12,000 people will visit the world-class Ark Encounter and our popular sister attraction the Creation Museum in Petersburg on a summer day.
That’s nice, but what about specific figures? He says:
Particularly encouraging this past year was the 20% increase we saw in the number of motor coach tours that visited our attractions, even coming as far away as Dallas, Texas—and many buses arrived from states like Iowa. With the growth of these organized tours, and with “raving fans” [Hee hee!] going back into their communities and encouraging others to visit us, we think the third year at the Ark will be just as strong as year two.
Aha! So the previously predicted 20% increase in attendance over the first year is now magically transformed into a 20% increase in motor coach tours — a statistic no one can verify. And the third year attendance will be “just as strong as year two,” but no stronger. Then he tells us:
Our large facilities can actually handle even more guests per day, but the lack of hotel beds in the region is putting an artificial cap on our potential audience. We heard from a few people last week that they had to find accommodations about an hour away because the hotels they tried to book in Northern Kentucky were completely full.
Any shortfall in predicted attendance — which is never actually admitted — can be blamed on a lack of hotels in the area. Very convenient. He continues:
We are like most attractions in that we don’t release annual attendance figures. We know how people will attempt to figure them out on their own, but some will cherry pick information from different sources and try to argue the Ark has not been successful.
We haven’t claimed that the enterprise isn’t successful. It’s obviously not going bankrupt. But Hambo’s prediction of a 20% increase in attendance, and his earlier estimates of 1.4 to 2 million visitors, and possibly more, hasn’t come true. We say that based on our clandestine operative’s figures obtained via the Kentucky Official Records Act. Let’s read on, as Hambo wiggles a bit:
For example, you can’t look at ticket sales to come up with the grand total. You see, thousands and thousands of young children under 5 who have visited in the past two years came free with their families. Also, Ark members who have life-time passes don’t have to pay for a ticket, and they also receive a number of free tickets each year to use for family and friends. Also annual pass holders may visit multiple times, and they too don’t show up in ticket sales. But we can say that attendance for year two was higher than our excellent first year.
Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t. But as we reported earlier, the official figure for paid attendance for the second year was 862,471. We have no idea how many toddlers there may have been who got in free. Here’s our last excerpt:
It’s important to mention that almost all attractions see a drop in attendance after the initial excitement of the opening year wears off. But we have experienced another remarkable year and an uptick in attendance.
The rest of the long post is mostly about improvements that are planned. We don’t care about that. The important thing is that Hambo’s previous predictions about a glorious second year have now reduced to “an uptick in attendance.” Perhaps. We may never really know.
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