Attendance at Ark Encounter has picked up over the past couple of months, and it’s still continuing, much to the delight of Creationist Ken Ham.
The bottom line? Ark Encounter had 124,230 paying visitors in June. That’s quite a few more than the 113,901 they had last June. It’s not the largest same-month increase ever, but considering all the recent investments Answers in Genesis has made, it’s not a shock to see some growth over these busier summer months.
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.)
|Month||2017 (Fee)||2018 (Fee)||2019 (Fee)||Notes|
|January||13,250 ($6,625.00)||14,885 ($7,442.50)||(Increase from previous year: 1,635)|
|February||17,961 ($8,980.50)||16,328 ($8,164.00)||(Drop from previous year: 1,633)|
|March||62,251 ($31,125.50)||70,466 ($35,233.00)||(Increase from previous year: 8,215)|
|April||67,613 ($33,806.50)||79,908 ($39,954.00)||(Increase from previous year: 12,295)|
|May||73,353 ($36,676.50)||90,803 ($45,401.50)||(Increase from previous year: 17,450)|
|June||113,901 ($56,950.50)||124,230 ($62,115.00)||(Increase from previous year: 10,329)|
|July||142,626 ($71,313.00)||135,922 ($67,961.00)||(Drop from previous year: 6,704)|
|August||106,161 ($53,080.50)||98,106 ($49,053.00)||(Drop from previous year: 8,055)|
|September||83,330 ($41,665.00)||69,207 ($34,603.50)||(Drop from previous year: 14,123)|
|October||93,659 ($46,829.50)||89,434 ($44,717.00)||(Drop from previous year: 4,225)|
|November||51,914 ($25,957.00)||40,193 ($20,096.50)||(Drop from previous year: 11,721)|
|December||36,472 ($18,236.00)||46,400 ($24,200.00)||(Increase from previous year: 9,928)|
Keep in mind all of this is happening as Ark Encounter is dealing with a (hilarious) million-dollar lawsuit involving rain damage.
Ham may have forestalled a catastrophic drop, but it’s likely due to factors that have nothing to do with interest in a biblical myth. The warm weather certainly helps. So does the brand new conference center on the premises that allows thousands of people to visit the park in one fell swoop. There’s also a playground and petting zoo. All of that requires a lot of money to build; the question is whether the investment is worth it in the long run.
Remember that actual attendance is 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 or conference attendees who are there for another reason.
(Large portions of this article were published earlier)