Attendance at Ark Encounter has increased a bit, compared to the same period last year, after a month that saw a major dip.
The bottom line? Ark Encounter had 15,790 paying visitors in January. That’s a bit more than the 14,885 they had last January.
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)||2020 (Fee)||Notes|
|January||13,250 ($6,625.00)||14,885 ($7,442.50)||15,790 ($7,895.00)||(Increase from previous year: 905)|
|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)||160,124 ($80,062.00)||(Increase from previous year: 24,202)|
|August||106,161 ($53,080.50)||98,106 ($49,053.00)||104,350 ($52,175.00)||(Increase from previous year: 6,244)|
|September||83,330 ($41,665.00)||69,207 ($34,603.50)||73,541 ($36,770.50)||(Increase from previous year: 4,334)|
|October||93,659 ($46,829.50)||89,434 ($44,717.00)||86,988 ($43,494.00)||(Drop from previous year: 2,446)|
|November||51,914 ($25,957.00)||40,193 ($20,096.50)||37,686 ($18,881.00)||(Drop from previous year: 2,507)|
|December||36,472 ($18,236.00)||46,400 ($24,200.00)||37,880 ($18,940.00)||(Drop from previous year: 8,520)|
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 more catastrophic drop, but it’s likely due to factors that have nothing to do with interest in a biblical myth. The cold weather will no doubt limit attendance in coming months, and the park will be closed on Sundays and Mondays until next month, but there is a 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. They’ve also been advertising on Facebook and on FOX News. All of that requires a lot of money; the question is whether the investment is worth it in the long run.
Remember that actual attendance is 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)