You wouldn’t expect a young earth creationist to be numerically accurate, would you?

We all had doubts about that economic impact report commissioned by Answers in Genesis for their Ark Park: it was clearly biased towards inflating revenues. Ken Ham goes around claiming that it will draw two million visitors/year, when the Creation “Museum” itself draws an eighth of that, and its attendance is declining. No one should be surprised that an independent assessment predicts much, much lower numbers.

The proposed Noah’s Ark theme park in Northern Kentucky would attract between 425,000 and 640,000 visitors in its best year, according to a consultant who studied the project’s economic impact for the state.

That’s far less than an estimate of as many as 1.24 million visitors by the consultant in 2011 when a larger theme park was being planned, and less than project developers have said will be drawn to the attraction in Boone County.

I suspect even that half million estimate is excessive; they’ll be drawing on the same limited pool of creationist fanatics that go to their “museum”, and a big fake boat simply isn’t that thrilling. This is also after they downsized their earlier plans, which included a collection of rides (weren’t you all looking forward to the “Seven Plagues of Egypt” ride?) and exhibits that have been axed to cut the project price by more than half.

Most importantly, the revised revenues for the park are significantly less than the cost to the state of the proposed tax incentives…which have been pulled because of their discriminatory hiring proposals. AiG is making noises about suing the state over that loss of tax incentives, which would be a further big drain on their budget.

Yay, this is the kind of thing that could end up demolishing AiG!


  1. Randomfactor says

    Despite the undeniable potential as a tourist draw, I imagine the theological implications of the “iron chariots” ride kept it from the final plans as well.

  2. unclefrogy says

    Coming soon !
    The Ark
    a planed community in the verdant countryside of of Northern Kentucky
    close to major highways.
    A Biblical themed community. complete with shops and businesses and recreation facilities. close to medical facilities.
    Private Christian schools teaching the future generations Christian values
    A place to raise a family and live the Christian life.
    with choice of spacious 2 and 3 bedroom homes in the condominium complex or deluxe detached homes in either 3 or 4 bedrooms models.
    All surrounded with beautiful landscaping bring to mind Eden.
    Starting from a low $200,000.

    (found in a future time anomaly)
    uncle frogy

  3. johnlee says

    I honestly think the public would be more impressed by a boat that could actually float. Now that they’ve lost the tax breaks in Kentucky, why don’t they relocate? Perhaps this is the opportunity they’ve been waiting for to convince everybody. Somewhere like the Marina Trench ought to do …

  4. doubter says

    …weren’t you all looking forward to the “Seven Plagues of Egypt” ride?

    Only seven? Which three plagues were they going to skip?

    I mean, how hard could it be to get all the firstborn children taking the ride to sit together up front?

  5. jerthebarbarian says

    Wait – they downsized their earlier plans to include other rides? I hadn’t heard about that.

    Thanks makes the whole thing even dumber – I had thought (reading between the lines) that their plan was to have this Noah’s Ark Theme Park with their Ark as a centerpiece but with rides for the kiddies and the adults to draw in people for their “museum” (and to use the money the park would generate as an additional funding source for the “museum”). There are people who will go to a theme park that you aren’t going to get within a mile of a museum, even a phoney museum. Getting rid of the theme park part of the whole thing makes it just another fake display for their fake museum – that’s not going to bring in new suckers for your museum!

    What are they thinking? This sounds like a giant boondoggle that Ken Ham has dug himself into and is too stubborn to back out of (or maybe it’s a giant “Producers” style scam and he has no intention of even building the ark but will instead just use it as a way to fundraise from gullible marks. I wondered about that with the way they seem to have intentionally tanked their ability to get tax incentives by not just changing their hiring rules for the park to be compliant with a non-discriminatory HR policy.)

  6. davidnangle says

    jerthebarbarian @#6, a scam version of an American Christian theme park construction project seems like a financial malfeasance Matryoshka doll. It’s financial fuckery all the way through, with all levels getting screwed at the same time.

  7. U Frood says

    weren’t you all looking forward to the “Seven Plagues of Egypt” ride?

    Just happy to say I’m not the first born.

    I’d actually love to see how they would handle that:
    “Look, here’s your just and merciful God killing a bunch of innocent children because he was mad at Pharaoh”
    “Why didn’t he just kill Pharaoh?”
    “Do not question the wisdom of God!!!”

  8. says

    @3: Sort of like this place a couple of hours up the road from me, only bigger.

    When Logos Land was being built (~25 years ago, IIRC) timeshare investment opportunities were marketed heavily through area churches. The project almost went bust, investors lost a bundle, and IIRC a few people (including some clergy and a local town mayor) almost went to jail. The place survived as a “family” resort, though I note that Google Maps marks the Genesis Restaurant (built in the shape of an Ark — check it out on Streetview) as “Permanently Closed”.

    Thus endeth the Ottawa Valley’s attempt at a Christian theme park.

  9. timberwoof says

    What? You mean setting up a non-profit educational corporation to take in donations, hire docents for free, and pay directors’ salaries; and setting up a for-profit profitable corporation to take in visitors’ fees, benefit from tax breaks, and make donations to the non-profit is a scam? I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you: Shocked!

  10. Kevin Kehres says

    The death of AiG? Oh please.

    Barnum was wrong by several orders of magnitude on the numbers of suckers being born every minute; and tons of them already contribute to AiG. He’ll just pull the “persecution” card and the money will flow like honey.

    Heck, you’re doing his job for him — predicting AiG’s demise. “See? The nasty old atheist HATES me! Send me money!!”

  11. Kevin Kehres says

    Heck, Ham is already late to the party. In Pigeon Forge, Tenn, there is a “Noah’s Ark Animal Park”. Well…it’s actually just a camel ride in front of the “Miracle Theater” where Jesus fights Satan (with SWORDS!!) every night.

    Yes, the apocalypse will be fought with swords…and guys in Roman-style armor. At least according to the flyers from the “Miracle Theater”.

  12. edmond says

    I think the really fun part about all this is that you KNOW Ken Ham is regularly praying for the success of this project, asking God for good providence, or to smite or confuse those who would stand in the way. It must be frustrating for him to watch God slowly scuttle the thing.

  13. Usernames! (ᵔᴥᵔ) says

    …you KNOW Ken Ham is regularly praying for the success of this project…
    — edmond (#15)

    Do you think he actually believes this crap? Or is he a flim-flammer?

  14. says


    I wondered about that with the way they seem to have intentionally tanked their ability to get tax incentives by not just changing their hiring rules for the park to be compliant with a non-discriminatory HR policy.

    I’m still of the opinion that they didn’t think they were breaking the rules. They regard themselves as a privileged class to whom the rules don’t apply. If the rules are applied to them equally, then that’s discrimination, and the inevitable cries of persecution follow. Like most right-wing nutjobs, they’re not capable of understanding their own hypocrisy.

  15. says

    For the “Ten Plagues of Egypt” ride, I wonder how they’ll visualize god hardening the pharaoh’s heart? Maybe a translucent hand descending down to poke a finger into his brain while the pharaoh’s facial expression changes from worried to blank indifference?

  16. twas brillig (stevem) says

    Lookin for somewhere else to dump your big-buck$ ? Biscardi the Bigfoot hunter, invites you to invest in his project:

    Mr. Biscardi and his partners hope to raise as much as $3 million by selling stock in Bigfoot Project Investments. They plan to spend the money making movies and selling DVDs, but are also budgeting $113,805 a year for expeditions to find the beast. Among the company’s goals, according to its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission: “capture the creature known as Bigfoot.” — WSJ

    Sounds like a Ken Ham copycat…

  17. jimfoley says

    So really, should we *want* the Ark Park to go ahead? (without state aid, that is) They’d have a massive mortgage, they wouldn’t be getting the income to cover it, financial meltdown would ensue, up to and hopefully including the bankruptcy of AIG.

  18. says

    Kevin @ 11: To be fair, he said the death of AiG, not the death of creationist belief. It’s entirely possible that financial mismanagement and absurd overreach could run the company into the ground, as has happened before with other ambitious Christian business ventures (Heritage USA, anyone?).

  19. Rich Woods says

    @Usernames #16:

    …you KNOW Ken Ham is regularly praying for the success of this project…
    — edmond (#15)

    Do you think he actually believes this crap? Or is he a flim-flammer?

    Thanks — that reminds me that I’ve still got the DVD of ‘Elmer Gantry’ to watch. I don’t think I’ve seen it since I was about 13.

  20. Funny Diva says

    Al Dente @20

    I thought that came after the “swept away like Pharoah’s army after the Red Sea un-parted” water flume ride!

  21. says

    Every time someone like Ken Ham is mentioned, someone inevitably pops up to suggest that, as no one could possibly be so stupid as to believe what Ken Ham believes, the real story can only be that he is a genius among flim-flam men.

    Gang, it’s very simple. Yes. People can be and are stupid enough to believe the things Kan Ham believes. While on its own I don’t suppose you can point to that fact as strict evidence it applies to Ham, I’d say it’s still more reasonable than not to conclude Ham is a true believer. You gots ta look at so many factors. For one thing, Ham’s laser-focused on YEC, indicating there is real religious conviction behind his follies. He’s fighting too hard against heavy resistance, like losing his tax incentives, while con artists prefer the path of least resistance to bilking their marks. Consider Kevin Trudeau, who hopped from scam to scam to scam based on which banked him the best, easiest cash. And unlike folks like Joel Osteen or the Crouches, Ham isn’t widely attacked for an opulent lifestyle (personal wealth being the main motivator of a scam artist), but for the absurdity of the beliefs he promotes and the persistence with which he promotes them.

    So I’d say, with Ham, we have the real article here. A zealot who is passionately convinced he’s fighting for the Lord against the onslaught of atheistic scientism.

  22. mnb0 says

    “You wouldn’t expect a young earth creationist to be numerically accurate, would you?”
    You wouldn’t expect me to take this question seriously, do you?

    “this is the kind of thing that could end up demolishing AiG!”
    And I’m sitting on the fence – some Surinamese sausages in one hand and a rum-cola in the other.

  23. says

    @24: Actually, there’s been a “Parting the Rea Sea” stunt on the Universal Studios tour for over 30 years. IIRC, it’s right after the bit where Jaws tries to eat the tram.

  24. robro says

    Martin Wagner @#25 — Of course some people believe it, believe it deeply, and Ham may be one of those. But it’s also true that many preacher types know they are spewing BS, and Ham may be that type. Then there are the deeply cynical types who are exploiting the believers for money, power, sex, whatever, and Ham could be that type. He certainly puts on the true believer show quite well, “zealot” you will, but acting is a valuable skill in the serious scam artist. My impression of him is that he’s sleazy. It seems fairly obvious that the Ark Park was a scam for him, and probably a handful of local contractors, to make a fast buck off the state while fleecing the rubes.

  25. says


    Then there are the deeply cynical types who are exploiting the believers for money, power, sex, whatever, and Ham could be that type.

    But is there any evidence that he actually is that type? I’m sure Ham draws a generous salary, but that’s normal for any public figure running a large organization and by itself isn’t suspicious. It becomes scam-artistry only when it’s clearly at the expense of the organization’s goals, such as the huge amounts of money that the Crouches, Bakkers, etc. siphoned off. As for sex… well, have you seen the guy?

    Absent evidence to the contrary, I think the best explanation is that he’s a true believer who thinks he’s doing God’s work. And no doubt he feels a strong sense of accomplishment and validation with the many followers he has, and there’s power in that. But that’s normal for anyone who is successful at what they do.

    There’s an unfortunate tendency among atheists to project our own mode of thinking onto people like Ham, reasoning that because what they’re pushing is so clearly ludicrous there must an ulterior motive. There might be and sometimes is, but there doesn’t have to be to explain their behavior. Belief is a pretty powerful motivation in its own right.

  26. wanstronian says

    The thing about a real museum is that its exhibits change, particularly as new things are discovered and artifacts are shared between museums world-wide.

    But the fairy tale of Creationism is unchanging – it’s the same shit all the time. There are no artifacts to share, because they’re all invented in the first place. Every Creationist “museum” can have their own.

    So why would anybody who has visited the Creationist “museum” or Ark Park once, ever need to go back? Surely after the first few years, numbers will dwindle to virtually zero?

  27. Menyambal says

    Yeah, these creationist museums don’t have any artifacts of creation. (Whatever happened to all the relics that were so prevalent during the Middle Ages?) At best they have a few natural objects that they say support their case, although they usually have to say what the scientists think about the same thing. Mostly it’s just posters and dioramas.

    The ark replica is one big-ass diorama. The builders haven’t any information that isn’t in the Bible, unless they discover something from actual boat-building (such as that the damn thing wouldn’t work as described).

    All the visitors get is a visceral feel for the size of the thing, something that they don’t need, and that they should have taken on faith. Seriously, if God wanted folks to get a better feel for the ark than was given in the holy book, the original would be miraculously preserved in the hills of Ararat.

  28. rwgate says

    Maybe Ham could still pull this off. Forget the theme park angle and convert the Ark into condos and time shares. With over a million square feet (taking into account room needed for corridors, elevators, HVAC, etc.) hundreds of time share units could be sold to the faithful. You wouldn’t have to worry about changing exhibits, but some amenities would be retained (like the zip line to Hell, a restaurant with seven levels and very warm service).

    Which of the truly faithful wouldn’t want to Park in the Ark?

  29. says

    They could use the fact that it is a boat as a selling point for the condos. Perfect insurance against sea level rise caused by global warming. What’s that you say? Its a fiction created by those Godless scientists. Well there goes the advertising campaign.

  30. Jumpin Jehosephat says

    Maybe Ham could scrap the one big boat, build a hundred goldolas and ship ’em to Manhattan – won’t be too long before it looks like Venice. This seems to me to be the only way he’ll make any money from his “farcical aquatic ceremonies.”