Image: The Ark Encounter theme park
Ark Encounter released this illustration of its planned creationism theme park in northern Kentucky, which will feature a full-scale replica of Noah's Ark. staff and news service reports
updated 12/1/2010 9:14:32 PM ET 2010-12-02T02:14:32

A full-scale replica of Noah's Ark will be the biggest feature of a creationism-themed amusement park expected to open in 2014 in northern Kentucky, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Wednesday.

The $150 million park will be built by a for-profit group called Ark Encounter LLC, which is partnering with Answers in Genesis, most widely known for its high-tech Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., Beshear said at a Capitol news conference.

Site selection is not decided, he said, but the organizers have options on 800 acres in Grant County off Interstate 15, about 40 miles from the Creation Museum, which is outside Cincinnati, Ohio. The Ark Encounter website says the park will go in the Grant County site.

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“Bringing new jobs to Kentucky is my top priority, and with the estimated 900 jobs this project will create, I am happy about the economic impact this project will have on the Northern Kentucky region,” Beshear said in a prepared statement.

The park is expected to draw 1.6 million visitors a year, Beshear said, citing a feasibility study by America’s Research Group.

In addition to the full-size ark, the complex will include a walled city, live animal shows, a children’s interactive play area, a replica of the Tower of Babel, a 500-seat special effects theater, an aviary, a journey through biblical history, and a first-century Middle Eastern village.

Builders plan to use environmentally friendly Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building techniques.

Ark Encounter says it will pay the bulk of construction costs by raising about $125 million. Answers in Genesis is raising $24.5 million to pay for the Ark replica. The Ark Encounter website shows a $100 donation sponsors a wooden peg; $1,000, a plank; or $5,000, a beam. The website indicated that nearly $113,000 was raised by Wednesday afternoon.

Ark Encounter did not announce ticket prices, but its website says, "The average one-day ticket price is expected to be comparable to other regional attractions."

A 2011 full-price, one-day ticket to Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, is $51.99, but discounts are available, according to the amusement park's website.

Ark Encounter developers seek to recover under state tourism development laws up to 25 percent of the project's cost by recouping sales tax revenue paid to the state on tickets, lodging and other goods.

While state support of a religious-themed project is probably not illegal, attorney Ed Kagin, called it questionable, said the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“They’re implicitly endorsing this project, and I think that is improper,” said the American Atheists board member.

Other officials welcomed the potential economic boost for the community.

State Rep. Royce Adams, D-Dry Ridge, quoted by the Cincinnati Enquirer, said Ark Encounter will provide a “once-in-a-lifetime economic boost” for Grant County.

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“This project will do two things for our community: It will add 900 permanent jobs at a time when they are extremely hard to come by, and it will become a worldwide beacon for those who share our faith,” he said.

Grant County Judge-executive Darrell Link said, “With every ark there is a rainbow and at the end of this rainbow is a pot of gold.”

Answers in Genesis will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the park, which will be built by The Troyer Group, headquartered in Mishawaka, Ind., says the Ark Encounter website.

The Creation Museum, opened in May 2007, "brings the pages of the Bible to life, casting its characters and animals in dynamic form and placing them in familiar settings," says the Creation Museum website. "Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s Rivers. The serpent coils cunningly in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil."

Among other museum exhibits are a planetarium showing "the amazing 'Created Cosmos,'" four theaters including a special effects auditorium featuring "Men in White," a Dinosaur Den, Noah's Ark construction site, and a cave about "Natural Selection Is Not Evolution."

© 2013

Video: Noah’s Ark comes to Kentucky

  1. Closed captioning of: Noah’s Ark comes to Kentucky

    >>> if orlando and anaheim can have theme parks dedicated to a mouse with a human brain , then surely grant county , kentucky should be able to have their own centered around a big 500-foot boat. the catch in our number one story comes when you find out that boat is noah's ark. it's based on the literal translation of genesis and the taxpayers are expected to foot up to 1/4 of the $150 million price tag. the governor of kentucky announced the plans for the ark encounter. according to the louisville courier journal , it'll be a 500-foot replica of noah's ark, also including a walled city , a replica of the tower of babel , an aviary and first century middle eastern village. not an actual one, i imagine. no roller coasters , no farris wheels, just bible stuff. according to the website, the park will be a "fun, educational, and wholesome attraction" and will be an asset to the region. the project is a joint venture between the for profits llc and the non-profit group answers in genesis. a group that in 2007 opened kentucky 's creation museum , which is dedicated to portraying the bible's view of history. among their claims, the earth was created in six days, just 6,000 years ago. and that at one time, man and velociraptor co-existed peacefully. we take the absolute truth and authority of the bible to the world, we teach the relevance of a literal genesis to the mission fields of the world. we obey god's call for global evangelism for all ethnic groups in the world. and now they have asked taxpayers to subsidize their bible-based theme park . the state of kentucky is complying. again, according to the courier journal , developers are seeking state tax incentives under the kentucky tourism development act. they qualify in kentucky governor indicated they would. they could receive as much as $37.5 million in incentives. he joined the park's owners for the big announcement. claiming ark encounter would create hundreds of jobs for the state and defended the use of taxpayer money to subsidize the project.

    >> this is an application for a theme park . the law doesn't allow us to discriminate about the entertainment subject matter of theme parks as long as it's legal and in good taste.

    >> joining me now is sam cedar, the host of "the majority report ," which is back streaming on fm. so we have a defense from the governor on this. what do you think about using state dollars for this sort of thing?

    >> well, it's state dollars that come from the sales tax that they place there. so it's more of a rebate. i mean, i think -- i think it's -- it's probably would stand the test in terms of constitutionality. but the real question is, could another religion actually build their own theme park ? would they qualify for this type of subsidy? because i don't know, frankly, if a jewish or muslim theme park would do that well in that neighborhood.

    >> i would love to see the theme park in the middle of paducah.

    >> a big furry hat and people ride around on it. that's the only question, is it actually discriminatory? because only a christian theme park could actually qualify for these subsidies in practice. but i think it's a bit of a stretch, they probably can do it.

    >> right, and that's so pernicious, they know full well that no one's going to come in i want a muslim community theme park to get this tax break ?

    >> i suppose, but there is a little bit of history to this. the founders, ken hamm, he was on the report back in the day and said this was expressly to arm christians in a debate against evolution. and so this isn't, you know, this is a pretty specific agenda that these people are holding. but frankly, i'd prefer a theme park than the museum. because the museum implies this is actually real as opposed this is more like disney. and you have this notion of the world that is more fantastic.

    >> i was a little surprised it was a democratic governor doing this. but i guess the politics --

    >> it's kentucky . it's kentucky . i think that's the bottom line . it's kentucky and, you know, i think it probably will bring a bunch of jobs. this thing has been enormously successful, they pick that area specifically because it was in -- within a radius of one of the largest concentrations of americans within 500 miles that would attend. and so --

    >> now you're talking about the original creation museum ?

    >> yes, and i think that's going to be --

    >> i've never been. i heard michelle goldberg who has written a book called " kingdom coming " has told me about it. there's the dinosaur -- the guy riding the dinosaur.

    >> and i spoke to someone back on the old " majority report " as they were in the planning stages and they said, you know, it's going to specifically try and poke holes in evolution. it's going to contend that man walked contemporaneously with dinosaurs. it's going to suggest that evolutionary theory is what they call historical science as opposed to observational science . which then brings up the question that how do you know that dinosaurs existed at that point? but be that as it may --

    >> can god make a suitcase that's too heavy for him to lift?

    >> that's right. why would you make a banana? but the bottom line is it's been wildly successful. i mean the real question is is, are they going to be able to discriminate against who they hire at this theme park as opposed to their museum? because if they're getting state subsidies, that opens the door to a real question. are they the not-profit side or the profit side and i mean that in terms of making money a opposed to being prophetic. that's going to be the real question.

    >> this seems to me lawsuit-based. sam seder from

    >> great, thanks for joining me.


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