Ark Encounter Ticket Sales Went Up in July (But Pre-COVID Numbers Were Higher) August 26, 2021

Ark Encounter Ticket Sales Went Up in July (But Pre-COVID Numbers Were Higher)

Attendance at Ark Encounter is finally picking up after a year lost to the pandemic. That’s not the Creationists’ fault, obviously, but the recovery has been slow for them just like everyone else, and the numbers today are still not as high as they used to be.

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

The bottom line? Ark Encounter had 134,945 paying visitors in July. That’s significantly higher than the 57,632 they had last July since the place shut down due to COVID on March 17, 2020. It means that their attempts to draw people in are finally on an upswing, though this month’s numbers still don’t match the ones they saw in July of 2019.

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) 57,801 ($28,900.50) (Increase from previous year: 42,656)
April 67,613 ($33,806.50) 79,908 ($39,954.00) 0 ($0) 64,479 ($32,239.50) (Increase from previous year: 64,479)
May 73,353 ($36,676.50) 90,803 ($45,401.50) 2,047 ($1,023.50) 76,089 ($38,044.50) (Increase from previous year: 74,042)
June 113,901 ($56,950.50) 124,230 ($62,115.00) 40,434 ($20,217.00) 109,694 ($54,847.00) (Increase from previous year: 69,260)
July 142,626 ($71,313.00) 135,922 ($67,961.00) 160,124 ($80,062.00) 57,632 ($28,816.00) 134,945 ($67,472.50) (Increase from previous year: 77,313)
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)

Over the past year, Ark Encounter had to postpone on-site conferences. Like other tourist attractions, they’ve also missed out on Spring Break trips, summer vacations, and warmer weather attendees in general. Most workers at the Ark were also temporarily laid off. They finally reopened on June 7, 2020, but until now, very few people had any desire to visit, presumably due to COVID.

Even last month, Ham was bragging about “record attendance” at Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum that was “equal to their excellent 2019 numbers.” We now know he was lying. He’s not reaching 2019 numbers. At the very least, he’s using one good attendance day as representative of success over an entire month. Whether his “40 Days and 40 Nights of Gospel Music” festival (which began in August) will close the gap remains to be seen.

Keep in mind that 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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