Ark Encounter Ticket Sales Continued to Plummet in February Due to COVID-19 March 23, 2021

Ark Encounter Ticket Sales Continued to Plummet in February Due to COVID-19

Attendance at Ark Encounter remains at rock bottom during the pandemic. It’s not their fault, obviously, but the recovery has been slow for them just like everyone else.

Thanks to a public record request by local paleontologist Dan Phelps, we now have the numbers for February. You can read more background about how it’s calculated here. (Quick note: That PDF says it shows the attendance for “February, 2020,” but that is clearly a typo.)

The bottom line? Ark Encounter had 11,577 paying visitors in February. But that’s still lower than the 17,290 they had last February. It means that their attempts to draw people in during the winter were still impacted by the pandemic. While this is a relatively small drop-from-previous-year, it continues a a year-long trend of failure.

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) 2021 (Fee) Notes
January 13,250 ($6,625.00) 14,885 ($7,442.50) 15,790 ($7,895.00) 11,354 ($5,677.00) (Decrease from previous year: 4,436)
February 17,961 ($8,980.50) 16,328 ($8,164.00) 17,290 ($8,645.00) 11,577 ($5,788.50) (Decrease from previous year: 5,936)
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) 0 ($0) (Decrease from previous year: 79,908)
May 73,353 ($36,676.50) 90,803 ($45,401.50) 2,047 ($1,023.50) (Decrease from previous year: 88,756)
June 113,901 ($56,950.50) 124,230 ($62,115.00) 40,434 ($20,217.00) (Decrease from previous year: 83,796)
July 142,626 ($71,313.00) 135,922 ($67,961.00) 160,124 ($80,062.00) 57,632 ($28,816.00) (Decrease from previous year: 102,492)
August 106,161 ($53,080.50) 98,106 ($49,053.00) 104,350 ($52,175.00) 46,562 ($23,281.00) (Decrease from previous year: 57,788)
September 83,330 ($41,665.00) 69,207 ($34,603.50) 73,541 ($36,770.50) 44,571 ($22,285.50) (Decrease from previous year: 28,970)
October 93,659 ($46,829.50) 89,434 ($44,717.00) 86,988 ($43,494.00) 49,835 ($24,917.50) (Decrease from previous year: 37,153)
November 51,914 ($25,957.00) 40,193 ($20,096.50) 37,686 ($18,881.00) 24,105 ($12,052.50) (Decrease from previous year: 13,581)
December 36,472 ($18,236.00) 46,400 ($24,200.00) 37,880 ($18,940.00) 34,273 ($17,136.50) (Decrease from previous year: 3,607)


Remember that the Ark didn’t shut down until March 17 of last year, but it’s clear there was lower attendance in the weeks prior to that, too. Their on-site conferences also had to be postponed. Like other tourist attractions, they’ve missed out on Spring Break trips, summer vacations, and warmer weather in general. Most workers at the Ark were also temporarily laid off. They finally reopened on June 7.

That said, the Ark’s parent company, Crosswater Canyon, received between $1 million and $2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program. And Ham also raised at least $1,135,009 in a separate fundraiser to offset COVID-related losses.

Finally, keep in mind 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.

(Image via Shutterstock. Large portions of this article were published earlier)

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