The Ark in the Park


I didn’t realize that there’s a Noah’s Ark near me, at Kennywood Amusement Park outside of Pittsburgh. Unlike the one Ken Ham did, it was a fairly amusing ride, and the science was about as accurate.

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The entire ship rocks back and forth on a central axis. Kennywood was opened in 1899  and was one of the first amusement parks in the world; some of the rides date from the period where being rocked gently back and forth was amazing – before the invention of “air turbulence” I suppose. Though, they had “horse turbulence” so I don’t see the big deal.

I was surprised to learn that giraffes had heads strong enough to butt through the roof of arks, back then. It reminded me somewhat of my own Ark Museum:

Creashun Museum Aug 11 2009 (With Robin T.)

To enter the ark, one must first enter through the mouth of Jonah’s Whale, and be pooped out into the first exhibit. Fortunately, for me, I am fearless about these things.

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We find ourselves in the hold of the ship.

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Oh, look, a spare box of dogs! Whenever critiques of Noah’s Ark come up, space and logistics are a common criticism but apparently Noah handled things by painting the boxes with UV sensitive paint and keeping the dogs in a box next to the bananas, so they could … ugh. Poor dogs!

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Another brilliant space-saving move, Noah left the Rhino’s bodies behind and just harvested the heads. This is probably where all the victorian hunters got the idea.

We pass through the hold and into the main body of the ship, where a room the size of a toilet stall is occupied by the Captain, Noah, who is portrayed with Mrs Noah standing beside him and slightly behind as is appropriate. As is appropriate for whacking the captain with a frying pan.

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You are probably thinking that picture is unusually bad, even for me, but that’s “art photography.”  No, actually, it’s “photography in the dark” – Noah is so old that he needs to be protected from ultraviolet. If I had my good camera, which sees in the dark, the picture would be fine but then I would have probably launched it from a roller-coaster. One does what one can.

The important science-point here is that the representation of Noah and Mrs Noah is so similar to Ken Ham’s that I’m pretty sure Ham feels it’s plagiarized and unoriginal. Noah is portrayed with a list, covered with names of animals and check-marks. I wish I could have photographed that, because I didn’t see “T. Rex” anywhere on the list.

If you’re observant, you’ll notice that Noah is simultaneously upstairs looking out the window and downstairs, working on his list. Because: Quantum!

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Noah’s solution to the elephants: small elephants. About 3 feet high. This also explains a lot: elephants evolved and got bigger after the flood.

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Yes, that’s a kangaroo. With a joey in her pouch. The kangaroo is taller than the elephant in the previous room.

Noah brought 2 kangaroos that were nested together like Russian dolls. But, wait, we’re being trolled! How did kangaroos only wind up in Australia, then? My guess is that Noah must have made a side-trip and dropped them off first, not realizing they were on a really big island. I am sure the indigenous peoples who were there at the time were puzzled by all the sailing about.

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“I like big butts and I cannot lie.” There was a whole room of backends of creatures. I could not match the backends to any of the heads that were mounted on the side of the ship, viking-style. Noah’s compression algorithm appeared to be highly lossy.

The tail was animated and wagged back and forth.

Back in the victorian era, people would regularly fall for things like this, or Piltdown Man, or The Man With Hairy Armpits, or whatever – because animal butts were something new that nobody had experience with, prior.

The next few rooms were fun but I did not record anything of them. The ship was pitching like a mad thing on the waves, as if impelled by a giant cam, or something, and there were some fun-house mirrors that distorted our appearance – I commented “they stole this idea from Snapchat” and a bunch of my fellow travellers snorted Pepsi product out their noses to show their agreement.

There was one disorientation ride that nearly got me – we walked along a narrow plank through a rotating tube that had blinking lights on it. Our brains immediately told us we were taking on water and falling over, so we nearly overcompensated and fell over the other direction. What fun! I wonder how many children emerge traumatized from such rides? Oh, wait, that’s “a typical day playing videogames” isn’t it?

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The bees, apparently, were monstrous huge in those days.

The last room, as we exited the ship of fools, was the aviary. I suspect the designers of the ship had throught, “by the time they get here the shrooms should be kicking in, hard. Let’s blow some minds.” There were several ultraviolet Macaws and a Norwegian Flame (shh! he’s resting!)

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That’s the experience. All in all, it was a bit dizzying and I am glad I had not eaten any funnel cake (yet) by the time I got there.

As we exited, a local volunteer rock band was playing something forgettable, and really doing it hard – they were good, but their choice of music was unexciting. I wanted to go over and ask them if they could do any Joy Division. I’d have definitely done that ride again:

This is the room, the start of it all,
No portrait so fine, only sheets on the wall,
I’ve seen the nights, filled with bloodsport and pain,
And the bodies obtained, the bodies obtained.…
All in all it was as educational as Ken Ham’s version, as scientifically accurate, and it had mirrors that made me look tall, and short, and it jiggled around. I’d say it’s worth the trip, but make sure you time it so the shrooms are peaking when you go through the spinning room. I have no idea what Noah had a spinning room on his ark, but it was really cool to see how easily our brains can be hacked with deceptive inputs.

Comments

  1. kestrel says

    Your “Creashun Museum” has inspired the Partner and I to make our own. Yours is pretty awesome, it will be a real challenge, but we’ll try.

    The ride sounds pretty hilarious. Very clever to keep the dogs in a box! Hmm, would it work for the other animals? I’m surprised Mr. Ham did not think of trying this… Also it looks like Noah (in the blurry picture) is about to enjoy two eggs over easy. Makes me wonder what kind of eggs those are?

  2. lumipuna says

    You call potholes “horse turbulence”.
    In Finnish we call turbulence “aerial potholes”.

  3. says

    chigau@#1:
    Yours was better.
    Does it still exist?

    You mean my ark? I broke it down and returned it to its original condition, then gave it to a kid along with a lecture about mythology. I used the ark as an excuse to buy a playmobil pirate ship (I still have that!) because there were allegedly plans to do “Noah VS Pirates” but I got side-tracked into other things.

    The pictures of Kennywood are from 2 weeks ago; it’s still going strong! They still operate some really scary 1st generation wooden roller-coasters. I’m fairly comfortable with the modern ones, as long as I can check and make sure they’re controlled with PLCs not simple switches talking to Windows XP.

  4. says

    kestrel@#3:
    Your “Creashun Museum” has inspired the Partner and I to make our own. Yours is pretty awesome, it will be a real challenge, but we’ll try.

    Woot! I can’t wait to see!! There are so many weird and goofy things in biblical lore, that really need “museuming” I had plans to do a version of Samson pulling the temple down, featuring stretch armstrong … but, you know. Life.

    Also it looks like Noah (in the blurry picture) is about to enjoy two eggs over easy. Makes me wonder what kind of eggs those are?

    You have probably uncovered what really happened to the T Rex.

    I hate that the pictures are so bad but I didn’t want to make everyone wait while I braced myself and tried to do Real Photography(tm)

  5. says

    Caine@#2:
    Awww, it sounds like fun, if nothing else, a trip through time, back into history a bit.

    Plus: lemonade! And a ferris wheel with a real calliope! You can’t beat going up and down with a stomach full of funnel cake to bring on the “why did I do that?” queasies.

  6. says

    lumipuna@#4:
    You call potholes “horse turbulence”.
    In Finnish we call turbulence “aerial potholes”.

    For me, “horse turbulence” means my old buddy P-nut who used to buck transitioning into a canter. My neck will never work properly again, but at least I survived the first couple and was smart enough to quit at that point.

    “Aerial potholes” is a great term for it!
    I wonder what a Roman would call them.

  7. says

    By the way: I was not shrooming when I went through the park. I’m getting old for that kind of thing and crowds make me uncomfortable. I know a guy whose idea of fun used to be to ride roller coasters on acid. I don’t think my imagination can handle even thinking about what that’s like. (He had a lot of experience with the stuff)

  8. Reginald Selkirk says

    Kennywood was opened in 1899…

    Yes but Wikipedia says

    Noah’s Ark (1936)…
    This ride, the last operating of its kind in the world, was remodeled in 1996…
    In the winter of 2015-16, the Ark was entirely remodeled to its pre-1996 state, including the famed whale’s mouth entrance. Older gags that were removed in the 1996 renovation of the Ark that were re-added include air jets that were previously used to blow air up women’s skirts, but now are simply used to catch guests off-guard.

  9. Reginald Selkirk says

    Noah’s Ark (fun house)

    Noah’s Ark is a type of amusement park walk-through attraction built between 1919 and 1936. It features a fun house in the shape of the biblical vessel found in the Genesis flood narrative. As such, most Noah’s Arks featured scenes depicting animals and the biblical prophet Noah alongside traditional fun house gags…
    The first Noah’s Ark appeared at Venice Pier (California) in 1919…
    There is only one remaining Noah’s Ark in operation at Kennywood Park near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Although there is a Noah’s Ark at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, England, it has not been operational since 2008.

    Ken Ham’s pride and joy didn’t make the list. Maybe he needs to add some air jets and glow in the dark animal butts.

  10. Reginald Selkirk says

    Other Noah’s Ark restaurants can be found on California, New York(now closed), Ireland and Greece. The one in Bray Ireland has a video

  11. jrkrideau says

    That kangaroo gave me a shock. For a moment I thought it was as statue of Anubis, the jackel-headed god.

  12. komarov says

    How did kangaroos only wind up in Australia, then? My guess is that Noah must have made a side-trip and dropped them off first, not realizing they were on a really big island.

    Maybe they were dropped off before the flood ended and spent the time treading water until Australia came up beneath them. That must be why they evolved god gave them big feet.

    Having absolutely no expertise on bees or insects in general, I’ll just go ahead and hypothesize that they undergo mitosis. It makes sense: Bees are small, just like bacteria, and those do it, too. The only difference is that bees shrink in the process, so over the generations you end up with smaller and smaller bees.
    I see a lot of potential for this theory. There is, for example, bee-dating: If you find a fossilised bee you can work out its age by measuring its size and comparing it to other bees. It may also offer an alternative explanation for the die-back of bee-populations. They’ve probably reached the minimum size for bees and can’t get smaller anymore. Sadly, I don’t see how science can fix this.

    Regarding Noah and pirates, it would have been very awkward for Noah if black sails had appeared on the horizon just after he declared that god had vanquished the wicked? “Praise the Lo … oh, damn!” That said, I’m not sure how excited a group of pirates would be to capture a boatload of more or less exotic animals. On the one hand, their value just went through the roof. On the other hand there’s nowhere to make port and sell the booty. In the end it would boil – sorry – down to provisions, I suspect.

  13. Reginald Selkirk says

    That said, I’m not sure how excited a group of pirates would be to capture a boatload of more or less exotic animals.

    I hear they have an appreciation for parrots.

  14. says

    komarov@#18:
    Maybe they were dropped off before the flood ended and spent the time treading water until Australia came up beneath them. That must be why they god gave them big feet.

    Your theory is at least as good as some of the ones I’ve heard from other creationists!

    Regarding Noah and pirates, it would have been very awkward for Noah if black sails had appeared on the horizon just after he declared that god had vanquished the wicked? “Praise the Lo … oh, damn!” That said, I’m not sure how excited a group of pirates would be to capture a boatload of more or less exotic animals. On the one hand, their value just went through the roof.

    Maybe that’s what happened to the T Rex: the pirates had a big BBQ and it tasted like chicken!

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