Plans announced for 'Noah's Ark' attraction in NKY - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Plans announced for 'Noah's Ark' attraction in NKY

Artist rendering of Noah's Ark (Source: WLEX) Artist rendering of Noah's Ark (Source: WLEX)
Artist rendering of park (Source: WLEX) Artist rendering of park (Source: WLEX)

FRANKFORT, KY (FOX19) - Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear officially announced Wednesday that a full-scale Noah's Ark-themed tourist attraction is coming to northern Kentucky.

'Ark Encounter' is scheduled to open in Spring 2014.

Ark Encounter is partnering with Answers in Genesis, which owns the Creation Museum in Petersburg.

"We are excited to join with the Ark Encounter group as it seeks to provide this unique, family-friendly tourist attraction to the Commonwealth," said Gov. Beshear.

Multiple sites are being considered, although property in Grant County off I-75 is at the top of the list.

A feasibility study conducted by the renowned America's Research Group has indicated that the Ark Encounter may attract 1.6 million visitors in the first year and is expected to employ up to 900 full- and part-time staff.

The for-profit Ark Encounter project will be privately funded at an estimated cost of $150 million. The final site selection for the Ark Encounter is subject to the ability to acquire all of the land needed for the project, and the approval of certain state and local incentives and other assistance for the project.

"We are very pleased to be a part of this new project," said Ken Ham, president and founder of AiG and the Creation Museum. "AiG has been blessed to see the Creation Museum host over one million guests in three years. Based on our experience and success operating the large, state-of-the-art Creation Museum, our board believes the time is right to partner with the Ark Encounter in building a full-scale Noah's Ark. We hope that this fun and educational complex called the Ark Encounter will become another popular tourist destination for the state."

In addition to the full-size Ark, the complex will include a Walled City much like was found in ancient times, live animal shows, a children's interactive play area, a replica of the Tower of Babel with exhibits, a 500-seat 5-D special effects theater, an aviary, and a first-century Middle Eastern village. The complex will also include a Special Events Area for large gatherings, highlighting some of the Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building techniques used to construct the Ark Encounter. 

One of the factors in getting the Ark Encounter to launch the Ark project at this time was a November 2009 CBS News survey, which revealed that the remains of Noah's Ark would be the greatest archaeological discovery of our day. 

"Noah's Ark continues to capture the imagination of the general public, and this interest spans all social, religious and economic segments," the report said. "The Ark and the flood is one of the few historical events which are well known in the worldwide global circle."

Ark Encounter will have virtually the same team that designed and built the Creation Museum, and have these same staff design a full-scale Noah's Ark.

Michael Aldridge, a spokesman for the ACLU in Kentucky, issued the following statement: "While it does not appear that this proposed tax incentive structure would violate the Establishment Clause as it has been construed by the courts, the wisdom of such a proposal can be called into question when Kentucky continues to struggle in providing adequate funding for our existing education system."

A similar park was built in Hong Kong, called Ma Wan Park Noah's Ark.

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