At the end of May, my family took a trip to the Ark Encounter which is located in Williamstown, Kentucky. We were headed to South Carolina for an end of the school year vacation, and had been wanting to see this life-sized reconstruction of Noah’s ark. I like to gather the most information that I can before a trip like this, and so I went to the Ark Encounter’s website to get more details to plan our day. Their website was helpful, but I had some general questions like would I get cold inside? How long would it take to get through? Where could we stay overnight? Here are my top ten tips for making your trip to visit this new attraction easier!
10. ARRIVE EARLY We arrived right at opening time, pulling into their parking lot at nine a.m.. They have good parking attendants that helped us find a spot, and directed us to the ticket booth. There were long lines and a bus loading to take people to the Ark by the time we walked over.
9. BUY TICKETS IN ADVANCE While there were lines (about 5 family units long) at each of the many windows, the window to process tickets that were pre-purchased had a much shorter line.
8. DRESS IN LAYERS I wondered what the temperature would be like in the Ark. The weather outside on the day we were there was beautiful (mid 70’s by afternoon). The inside of the ark felt comfortable to me, like the outdoor temperature. I had dressed in a zip-up sweatshirt and a t-shirt. In the morning I was glad to have the two layers, and by the afternoon I had the sweatshirt tied around my waist.
7. EAT AT EMZARA’S I LOVE a good meal. On vacation we tend to stay in places that have kitchens, to save on money, and eat in instead of dining out. We only had a few meals out on our ten day trip, and the buffet lunch at Emzara’s was one of them. I had read many reviews on Trip Advisor saying this restaurant’s buffet, that is a few hundred feet from the Ark itself, was fantastic and they were right! Lunch is $12.99 for adults, $9.99 for 60+, $5.99 for 5-12 yr., and under 5 free. There is a combination price where lunch and dinner are $19.99 for adults, $16.99 for 60+, and $9.99 for 5-12 yr. olds. If you think you'll stay long enough to eat twice this is the way to go!
6. PLAN FOR 6 HOURS By the time we got to the Ark itself (after paying for our tickets, taking the bus to the Ark, and then doing a short video for this website) it was 10:00 a.m.. We went through the first and second floors by 12:45 p.m.. Then we stopped to eat lunch. We went to the gift shop for about a half hour after lunch, and then finished the day by 3:30 after touring the third floor. This was a little over six hours. I wouldn’t say we sped through, but I also wouldn’t say we hit everything. By the third floor we were a little tired, and my son and I skipped a few exhibits because they were crowded.
5. FEEL FREE TO SKIP THE PICTURE ON THE WAY IN When you first enter the ark you go up a long ramp. At the top they have two professional photographers taking pictures of the groups that enter (family units, big groups, singles, etc.). We did not want to pay for a picture taken by them so we just walked to the front of the line, and walked past the photographers when they were stopped for a second. It would have slowed us down, probably another twenty minutes, to stand in line and wait for a picture we didn’t want as there were about 15-20 groups of people in front of us.
4. SNACKS ARE AVAILABLE ON DIFFERENT LEVELS OF THE ARK We brought in our own water bottles, but there are snacks on the Ark. Our 12 year old son got two things on the second floor snack stand. It was good to see they offer healthy things like hummus and crackers, or yogurt. (Although our son chose potato chips!) The prices are, as you would probably expect, high.
3. PREPARE FOR CROWDS I asked the lady checking out my wares at the Gift Shop if they were particularly busy the day we were there. It was Memorial Day weekend, and it just seemed like everywhere we went in the complex there was a crowd. She replied, “Oh no, this is not busy at all. We’re expecting a much bigger crowd tomorrow.” If our day was a normal, or light traffic, day it was still crowded by my standards. I personally don’t love crowds, but the Ark’s busyness didn’t bother me at all. However, I didn’t like having to fight the crowds at each exhibit, and you would have to move at the pace everyone else was moving in the exhibits because they would get tightly packed.
2. ENJOY THE MOVIES We all really enjoyed the movies on the second and third floors. The creators of the films tied the two together in theme, so it made it even more enjoyable to laugh at the characters and see them developed in each story line. There are long, wooden benches to sit on to see the movies, and you can come and go as you like with the films playing on a continuous loop.
1. DOING ONE WAS ENOUGH One of the biggest questions we had was could we do both the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum in one day? Dave and I had been to the Creation Museum, but our 12 year old has not. We considered trying to fit them both in on the same day. I am REALLY glad we didn’t. There is so much information at each of the two places, plus they are not right next to each other (under an hour’s drive). One was enough!
Overall, we loved our experience at the Ark Encounter. I think we all would say it was not only one of the best days of our vacation, but also of our summer! We hope everyone has the chance to go, at least once. If you have been to the Ark Encounter would you let us know in the comment section? If you have any tips to add to our list please let us know!