By now, you all know that Creationist Ken Ham‘s Ark Encounter, better known as the Noah’s Ark theme park, is in trouble.
Last month, they were ruled ineligible to receive a tax incentive worth up to $18,000,000.
That $18,000,000 was projected based on what Answers in Genesis thought attendance figures would be like for the park in the years after its opening. They were very blunt about what they thought those numbers would be.
On the Ark Encounter website, for example, it says this:
Based on an extensive independent feasibility study conducted by America’s Research Group, we expect over 1,600,000 guests our first year.
Ken Ham also wrote on his website:
… the full-size Noah’s Ark, when it opens in 2016, is estimated to attract up to 2 million visitors a year…
Those are *huge* estimates — and they were no doubt used to attract donors to the project.
But it turns out that when you’re trying to get government funding for your theme park, the state needs someone to do an analysis of how it would effect employment and the economy. They need to know if your park is eligible for grants. For that reason, state officials hired a group called Hunden Strategic Partners, LLC to conduct an analysis.
In short, it turns out the attendance estimates for Ark Encounter are *much* lower than anything Ken Ham was saying publicly.
The report suggests two different scenarios, based on how Ark Encounter markets itself.
Scenario A is the more mainstream approach — it’s a fun time for the whole family! Forget the Bible. Come enjoy our large boat!
Scenario B is the more faith-based approach — this is a Christian attraction that’ll impart biblical knowledge to your kids!
Let’s look at the attendance projections in Scenario A (I’ve highlighted the estimates in red since they’re hard to see in the scan):
The first year estimate is just under 500,000 visitors. Eventually, the park levels off at about 400,000 visitors a year.
However, Answers in Genesis made it very clear that the park would be marketed as a Christian attraction, which brings us to the more realistic Scenario B:
Whoa… That’s only 325,000 visitors in the first year… with the number eventually leveling off at about 275,000.
In other words, even the best-case scenario wasn’t even close to the optimistic 2,000,000 visitors a year number that Ham was floating around.
I’m used to Ken Ham taking numbers and shrinking them to something incomprehensible… but this is the first time I’ve ever seen him overestimate anything. The pattern is evident: He ignores evidence and lives in his own little bubble, where whatever numbers he pulls out of his ass become the new reality.