Ark Encounter Ticket Sales Plummeted in March Due to COVID-19 April 21, 2020

Ark Encounter Ticket Sales Plummeted in March Due to COVID-19

Attendance at Ark Encounter dropped precipitously in March, compared to the same period last year, but at least this month we can attribute that to COVID-19.

Thanks to a public record request by local paleontologist Dan Phelps, we now have the numbers for March. You can read more background about how it’s calculated here.

The bottom line? Ark Encounter had 15,145 paying visitors in March. That’s a mere fraction of the 70,466 they had last March.

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) 17,290 ($8,645.00) (Increase from previous year: 962)
March 62,251 ($31,125.50) 70,466 ($35,233.00) 15,145 ($7,572.50) (Decrease from previous year: 55,321)
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.

The Ark didn’t shut down until March 17, but it’s clear there was lower attendance in the weeks prior to that, too. Their on-site conferences also had to be postponed. It must be a tough hit for them given that March is when attendance usually ramps up due to Spring Break trips and warmer weather. Most workers at the Ark have also been temporarily laid off.

As thrilled as I am by the low attendance, I can’t even claim schadenfreude here because the Ark is going through what all businesses are going through and everyone’s suffering right now. (It would be so much sweeter if attendance dropped because people saw through the con of Young Earth Creationism. That day will have to wait.)

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)


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