Well, well, well. For the first time since we’ve been tracking the numbers, attendance at Ark Encounter went up compared to the same time the previous year.
The bottom line? Ark Encounter had 46,400 paying visitors this past December. That’s more than the 36,472 they had last December. That’s unusual in part because it’s the winter, which is bad for theme parks in general, but Creationist Ken Ham has made a big deal about the new ice skating rink outside the boat. It’s unclear how many people visited the Ark for the skating and not so much to learn about Noah.
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)
October: 89,434 ($44,717.00) (Drop in attendance from a year earlier: 4,225)
November: 40,193 ($20,096.50) (Drop in attendance from a year earlier: 11,721)
December: 46,400 ($24,200.00) (Increase in attendance from a year earlier: 9,928)
I’ll be paying close attention to what happens in January and February, the months which had the lowest attendance last year, to see if it rises again. Ham may have forestalled another catastrophic drop, but it’s likely due to something that has nothing to do with interest in a biblical myth.
Call it a temporary plug for the leaks in the Ark. If the skating rink is bringing in visitors, that won’t help them when the weather gets warmer. They’ll have to find another tourism magnet.
(Large portions of this article were published earlier)