Here’s a quick update on the latest Ark Encounter attendance numbers, this time for the month of September.
Keep in mind that while school is now in sessions, September is still a relatively busy month for all tourist attractions. Creationist Ken Ham bragged repeatedly about the “thousands of visitors” visiting the boat and how it was boosting the local economy.
So with all that, you’d expect that September drew in even more people than the same month last year, right?
The bottom line? Ark Encounter had 69,207 paying visitors this past September. That’s less than the 83,330 they had last September.
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.)
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) (Drop in attendance from a year earlier: 6,704)
August: 98,106 ($49,053.00) (Drop in attendance from a year earlier: 8,055)
September: 69,207 ($34,603.50) (Drop in attendance from a year earlier: 14,123)
Not only is Ark Encounter drawing fewer paying members now than a year before, the attendance drop is getting larger each month.
No wonder Ham is trying to get public schools to visit Ark Encounter on field trips.
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.
(Large portions of this article were published earlier. Because attendance ain’t going up.)