Ark Encounter theme park plans unveiled

Ark Encounter theme park

The “Creationist” theme park long-rumored to be built in Kentucky is one step closer to reality.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced the plans for the new theme park on Wednesday, along with tax incentives the state of Kentucky will provide to the tune of $37 million.

Ark Encounter’s centerpiece will be a 500-foot long wooden ark, modeled after the Biblical Noah’s ark. The park’s organizers – the same folks behind the Creation Museum – say that Noah’s Ark is the source of much fascination to the general public, and the plans for Ark Encounter should answer many people’s questions about the building of the ark.

They point to a 2009 CBS News survey in which 43 percent of people responding said that Noah’s Ark is the archeological discovery they would most like to see made next.

The park will also include sections based on other Bible stories, such as:

  • The Walled City, a shopping and food complex
  • Noah’s Animals, with a petting zoo and live animal shows
  • The Tower of Babel, a 100-foot tall building with exhibits and a theater
  • Journey Through History, a “trip through the events of the Bible”
  • First-Century Village, a model of a First-Century town in the Middle East

Ark Encounter is planned for an 800-acre site off Interstate 75 in northern Kentucky, near Cincinnatti, Ohio. The park is being built by a private, for-profit company. A fundraising campaign is underway to build the ark itself.

The plan is not without controversy. Groups that advocate for the separation of church and state are protesting the state of Kentucky’s plan for tax incentives. Beshear says the motivation behind the incentives is jobs, not Jesus.

“The people of Kentucky didn’t elect me governor to debate religion,” Beshear told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “They elected me governor to create jobs.

Ark Encounter is expected to create 900 full- and part-time jobs and draw 1.6 million visitors in its first year of operation. The theme park is expected to open in 2014.

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