Once again, our clandestine operative in Kentucky, code-named “Blue Grass,” has provided us with the latest official ticket sales figures for people visiting Ark Encounter — the creationist tourist attraction built by Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia.
As you recall, a month ago we posted Hambo’s Ark — True Figures for the 2nd Year, revealing the figures Blue Grass provided for the Ark’s second full year of operations. Hambo’s people had been claiming that their roadside “replica” of Noah’s Ark had attracted one million visitors during its second year of operation, which was alleged to be a 20 percent jump in attendance year over the first year’s figure for the ark. Before that, Hambo had been making estimates of 1.4 to 2 million, and possibly more. But the actual ticket sales total for the Ark’s second year of operation (June 2017 to June 2018) was only 862,471.
When those figures became known, Hambo attempted to explain that things were actually much better, and we posted Hambo Explains the Ark’s Attendance Figures. He said they had a wonderful 20% increase in motor coach tours (but no one cares how the droolers arrive) and the lack of hotel beds in the region was holding down the number of visitors who would otherwise be flocking to see the Ark.
He also claimed that “thousands and thousands of young children under 5 who have visited in the past two years came free with their families,” which means his actual visitors were far greater than the number of mere ticket sales. Also, he claimed that those who have life-time passes don’t have to pay for a ticket, so the “true” number of visitors was much larger than the official figures for ticket sales.
Regardless of those excuses, the official figure for paid attendance for the second year of the Ark was 862,471. That was through the month of June, 2018. Now we have data for the ticket sales for July. Blue Grass tells us:
I just received the Ark Encounter attendance numbers for July 2018. In July 2017 the total number of paid ticket sales was 142,626. The number of paid ticket sales for July 2018 are 135,922. This is approximately a 4.7% decrease from last year. See the KORA [Kentucky Official Records Act] attachment below.
The attachment we received was a copy of the City of Williamstown Monthly Safety Assessment Report for July 2018. The city imposes a tax on the Ark’s ticket sales. It shows ticket sales were 135,922, so the safety assessment fee of fifty cents per ticket was $67,961.00.
We understand that the ticket sales figure doesn’t include those who get in free — like babes in strollers and unborn fetuses — nor does it include the hard-core droolers with lifetime passes who (Hambo suggests) visit again and again. However, the same exclusions existed the year before, and as the figures show, the actual ticket sales for the July just ended were almost 5% lower than those for that same month in the previous year.
So what do we conclude? Hambo may huff and puff about how well things are going, and it’s true that he’s selling enough tickets to keep the Ark afloat, so to speak. But the numbers aren’t increasing. Quite the opposite. We expect that things will keep going, perhaps for years, and the Hambo family will do well — but the long term trend is down. At least that’s how it seems to us.
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