Kevin S Aldridge, inset, pastor of St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Milford, Ohio, was among the first visitors to Ken Ham’s ridiculous Ark Encounter in Kentucky – dubbed the ‘genocide and incest park’ by sceptics – and this is prediction he made in a piece he wrote for Cincinnati.com:
If Tuesday’s gathering of 7,000 is any indication of how the ark is going to be received, then the Answers in Genesis accountants better get ready. Ken Ham said he expects 1.4 to 2.2 million people to visit the ark annually. At $40 per adult ticket that adds up to big bucks.
And that’s not even factoring in all the hats, T-shirts, food, beverages and other swag that will be sold in the gift shops and restaurants. The ark is such an architectural marvel that it will draw people not just from across the country, but from around the world …
We can debate whether the ark will actually have the $4 billion economic impact that Ham says it will, but what’s not in question is whether it will be an economic success. My suggestion to those planning to attend: arrive early in the day.
What Aldridge failed to factor into his prediction is that Ham – furious over the fact that the Freedom from Religion Foundation has warned schools against taking parties of youngsters to his creationist theme park – has now slashed the entry fee for kids to $1.00.
Branding the FFRF as “bullies”, Ham declared:
If public school students are booked as a group through their school to come to the Ark Encounter (or Creation Museum) for educational, recreational, or historical purposes during 2016, we will allow them to do so at a cost of $1 per child with accompanying teachers free. It must be a legitimate public school group booked through their elementary, middle, or high school.
Aside from claiming that the Ark Encounter fits in with all that makes America great – “we like big cars, mansions, skyscrapers, roller coasters and super-sized meals” – Aldridge made another prediction:
The ark could be a new beginning for Christian-themed attractions. Its size and scale makes it more than a Bible museum. It is a truly immersive, visceral experience that literally puts visitors in the midst of the Noah’s Ark story in the Bible. It’s these sorts of experiences that have made theme parks like Disney and Universal Studios such big hits with guests.
People don’t just want to hear stories and history, they want it to come alive for them. They want to be a part of the story. While Ham says the ark is more than entertainment, the reality is that visitors – Christian or not – expect a little entertainment value and to be engaged.
For Christian-themed attractions that can be a delicate but necessary formula. But if the ark is successful, it could be the launching pad for a host of other immersive Christian-themed attractions. Could you imagine a life-sized Tower of Babel? Or, with today’s digital technology, how about a parting-of-the-Red-Sea experience or going inside the belly of the whale with Jonah?
Nye said in a statement:
I chose to visit the Ark Encounter to see for myself the extent of its influence on young people. The influence is strong. I spoke with a lot of kids (and took a great many selfies). Almost all of them do not accept that humans are causing climate change — and that is the Answers In Genesis ministry’s fault. Through its dioramas and signage, the organization promotes ideas that are absolutely wrong scientifically, while suppressing critical thinking in our students — which is in no one’s best interest, conservative or progressive.
On a hopeful note, the parking lots were largely empty, and the ark building is unfinished. We can hope it will close soon.