Last year when the Ark Encounter opened to the public it was actually phase one of many for the park. While the ark itself was complete and some of the landscaping was done, there was still a lot of work to do. They’ve been busy for the last 12 months finishing up the landscaping and adding lots more.
To celebrate the Ark Encounter’s first anniversary we returned to tour the ark and see what’s been added over the last 12 months. As nice as it was when it opened, it’s seen a lot of improvements. Here’s a look at our visit on the first anniversary – July 7th, 2017.
Note – for this visit I interviewed Tim Chaffey. I’ll place a link here when I post the article.
As expected the place was packed. There were 5000 people here and it was just a typical Friday. Even though it was their first anniversary, there were no special events or discounts. This crowd is normal for a summer Friday and there are lots more there on Saturday. Many projected the park would have 350k visitors in its first year. It had over 1 million. And, with all of the additions coming, visitors have a great incentive to return – multiple times. Workers are building 6 days a week to add new structures, so there’s always something new being added.
Outside is a new area called the West Village. It has two gift shops, one with hand-painted carvings and the other with pottery, a food kiosk, and a stage where a small band was playing bluegrass. This stage is also used for animal demonstrations.
This is Trader Muki’s Crafts fair trade craft shop. It includes hand-painted crafts by ark artisan Oscar Nava. Most, if not all, of the carvings include the ark stylishly painted within the painted design somewhere.
This was the pottery shop’s opening day. Some of the pottery is from Turkey.
There have been lots of animals added to the Ararat Zoo including a petting zoo, camel rides, yaks, ostriches, llamas, and more. Some of the animals were hiding, so I didn’t see the skink or hairy armadillo. It’s possible they were inside the ark when I went through as they do rotate the animals.
Outside the Ark
Last year as the ark was getting ready to open the majority of efforts was focused on the ark itself rather than landscaping. We visited the ark the week before it opened and it was still very much a construction zone. We went again to the media event 2 days before opening and the landscape looked much different. There were now a few trees and shrubbery, but it was still work in process.
Now the area around the ark now has lots of trees, bushes, flowers, signs, etc. It’s obvious that a lot of work has been put into the landscaping. It looked good before. Now it looks amazing.
The queue line is surrounded by a gorgeous garden.
There are lots of animal statues made of wire and moss. In the background you can see the East village with steles that have hieroglyphics that show the history of the world.
Inside the Ark
Deck 2 and 3 now have movie presentation areas with 2 large screen TV’s each and lots of seating. They lay short films (which are available on DVD) and have a display that shows when the film will start again.
Deck 2 has an area with live animals and animal demonstrations. We got to pet some interesting reptiles.
Deck 3 includes a new exhibit called Why the Bible is True that shows panels of a graphic novel. It also includes a video of Tim Chaffey giving a demonstration using beans to show the number of manuscripts of ancient writings and how they compare to the number of manuscripts for the Bible. Just outside of that exhibit is a large wall with proof the Bible is true.
Some of the exhibits have been expanded. It now includes Prejudice and Racism, a new display with an arena where a giant (modeled by Tim Chaffey) and a dinosaur are killing people for sport.
After seeing the ark and their plan last year it was obvious it would take a while to complete the project. The have 9 areas planned in multiple phases that will be added over time. Some of the things in the works include a nomad village, multi-purpose theater, a walled city, and the Tower of Babel.
I highly recommend making a visit to the Ark Encounter. I’ve toured the ark twice and I enjoyed both visits. I can’t wait to go back.
See the details of our first visit here:
- Ark Encounter – Media Visit with Ken Ham
- Ark Encounter – Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
- Our Trip to the Ark Encounter Part One
- Our Trip to the Ark Encounter Part Two
- Ark Encounter – Interview with Dr Andrew Snelling
- Ark Encounter – Interview with Nathaniel T. Jeanson
- Ark Encounter – Interview with Dr Georgia Purdom
- Ark Encounter – Interview with Tim Chaffey
To plan your own visit, see the Ark Encounter website.
Have you been to the Ark Encounter? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.
Photography by hannah C brown.