Here’s a quick update on the latest Ark Encounter attendance numbers, this time for the month of August.
Keep in mind that August is still a relatively busy month for all tourist attractions, and Creationist Ken Ham bragged repeatedly about the “thousands” of people coming in “daily.” On August 5, he even talked about breaking a record with more than 8,500 visitors in one day. (He added: “journalists are clueless & seem to hate the Ark success.”)
So with all that, you’d expect that August drew in even more people than the same month last year, right?
The bottom line? Ark Encounter had 98,106 paying visitors this past August. That’s less than the 106,161 they had last August.
In fact, here are all the attendance numbers we know, along with the Safety Fee that Answers in Genesis has paid to the city of Williamstown. (The public nature of that fee is how we know the attendance numbers at all.)2017:
July: 142,626 (Safety Fee amount: $71,313.00)
August: 106,161 ($53,080.50)
September: 83,330 ($41,665.00)
October: 93,659 ($46,829.50)
November: 51,914 ($25,957.00)
December: 36,472 ($18,236.00)
January: 13,250 ($6,625.00)
February: 17,961 ($8,980.50)
March: 62,251 ($31,125.50)
April: 67,613 ($33,806.50)
May: 73,353 ($36,676.50)
June: 113,901 ($56,950.50)
July: 135,922 ($67,961.00)
August: 98,106 ($49,053.00)
As I’ve said before, it’s never a good sign when a tourist attraction is drawing a smaller crowd in a given month this early in its existence. We’ll find out soon enough if that trend continues. Keep in mind that school has started in many cities and the weather is getting colder, which means fewer families will be visiting the Ark.
Are Creationists freaking out about this. Who knows. They’re used to pretending small numbers represent enormous ones.
Ham will inevitably say that the attendance is actually much higher than these numbers represent because kids get in for free, as do members with lifetime passes. But giving away freebies to children and life members doesn’t help the local economy as much as drawing in first-time customers who are ready to spend money. Business owners aren’t banking on tourism dollars from the four-year-olds who get on the boat without a full-price ticket.
The ship is sinking.
(Portions of this article were published earlier)