(Thanks to Jon L. for today’s post!)
This past summer we were blessed to do a cross Canada/US road trip with our family of 7. After 13000 km of driving, the highlight attraction of the trip for every member of our family (ages 5 to 38) was the Ark Encounter!
It was both a super fun day but also incredibly faith building. You will definitely need a full day to get it all in. We camped just north of Cincinnati and drove the 1 hour to the ark in the morning. We purchased our tickets before arriving but could very easily have purchased them at the gate. It also cost $10 to park for the day. You take a short bus ride through a valley and then up onto the plain where the ark is built which is really impressive. To come up out of the valley to see how big the ark is in full scale takes your breath away.
The grounds of the park are very large and open which was very nice to be able to keep track of all the kids. Also helps to dissipate the crowds so we didn’t feel hemmed in. Right away we went straight to the ark. There are many other things that you can do outside of the ark. In hind-site we would have done things outside the ark first. The ark is completely air conditioned and all the things outside are not. So after spending 2 or 3 hours in the air conditioning, it was a shock to come outside to over 30 degree weather. It would have been better to do some outside things first and then go into the ark while it was hotter outside. The kids did zip lining and camel rides. Yes they were expensive but also a ton of fun for them. The small zoo that they have was interesting. Appreciated all of the signs that emphasized how God gave us the earth to look after and preserve. All the animals seemed very well cared for. There is also a very large play area for the kids to run around on with many covered areas where you can eat or get out of the sun. We bought a couple of pizzas for the family for lunch which were very reasonably priced. Buying lunch in the cafeteria would be very expensive for a family of 7.
Walking into the ark is breathtaking, and leaves you speechless. The walk up to it includes some interesting background story in pictographs on Egyptian-like stone tablets from the beginning of creation up to the time of Noah and what was happening at the time, explaining how the earth was very violent and corrupt. There was a little bit on the Giants (fallen angels) but other than that it was very scriptural.
The first floor of the ark is all of the evidence on how it would have all worked logistically. Cages for animals, space requirements, food storage, air flow, lighting, waste disposal and construction. All of it was done very well and thoroughly. Very well thought out and completely scriptural.
The second floor was more on why it needed to happen. Really interesting story board section on the first 6 chapters of Genesis. Again very scriptural with very little I would disagree with. 6 literal days of creation, almost no mention of the devil in Genesis 3 and lots on our need to get into the ark because of the coming judgment of our God. There was an interesting video on someone interviewing Noah and why he was building an ark. Interesting to imagine what Noah would have gone through and how he did it. Nothing glaringly unscriptural about it. There was a small display section around the corner from the video that was quite scary. Based on archaeological evidence of immoral temple worship and ancient abortion practices it would not be suitable for young children or those that frighten easily. There was also a number of rooms that gave lots of great evidence for how the flood happened, the ice age after the flood and the design of the ark. All very scientific and well argued. Great information but reading was heavy so not great for the children under 10. The last exhibit was the door of the ark. Other than the giant cross on the door it was a cool lesson that Jesus is the only door and we need to go through him in order to be saved.
The 3rd floor of the ark was all about the personal living space for Noah and his family. They named each of the wives on the ark and designed living quarters for them all, all with artistic license. No biblical proof, but again, interesting to think about. Lots of little details on how they would have lived on the ark and what they may have brought. Nothing doctrinally incorrect but all made up. After that there was a modern day video of a nonbeliever visiting Noah’s ark. It was a great video right up until the end. Focused on believing the scriptures for what they say and repenting and turning to Christ. Get on the boat. It was great up until the end when they basically said you don’t need to change anything about yourself just accept Christ and you will be saved.
After that there was a big exhibit on missionary work around the world. It was very focused on Christianity around the world and not very interesting. Not very kid friendly as there was lots of reading. The last exhibit was again a big story board section (graphic-novel type illustrations) on a person’s journey finding Jesus. Well worth skipping it. Some good lessons about peer pressure and making good decisions and the consequences of bad ones but lots of “just accept Jesus into your heart and you will be saved”.
The final part of the ark is the gift shop. It was actually awesome. Tons of really cool hand crafted clothes and souvenirs. They also had a ton of stuff on the ark and how it was built and my favorite section was on “Taking Back the Rainbow”. They were very clear about how abhorrent it is that the homosexual community has taken the rainbow for their symbol where it is the symbol of God’s promise never to flood the earth again. At this point it was noon and we went outside into the sweltering heat. There is also a major conference center where they did a few presentations throughout the day. We were not interested in these so did not go to them. Many of them were on how to teach people about Jesus and the bible. The conference center is huge and nicely air conditioned but we didn’t spend much time there.
Over all it was a wonderful experience for myself and for my family. I would love to go back again if ever given the opportunity. Seeing it full size, seeing the evidence for the validity and accuracy of the scriptures and being able to talk and walk through it with my children was an invaluable experience for our faith in God.