I have been so exited to visit the Ark Encounter since I heard of it being built a year ago. It opened in July and we finally had a free weekend to make the road trip. The Ark is 510 feet wide and 51 feet high and is the largest timber-frame structure in the world.
They also offer a 20% veteran's discount. The catch is you have to buy the tickets on site and does not work for Combo Tickets. The savings on buying ark and museum tickets at a discount price is equal to just paying for the combo tickets. So save yourself the waiting in line and purchase the combo tickets from the website. If you do buy them online, the tickets will be sent to your email address so much sure you have access to that before you purchase.
You are also required to pay $10 for parking. This was rather strange because the parking is added to your ticket price at the window after you have already parked. If you buy the tickets online then you will need to pay the $10 parking when you pick up your tickets.
The line was pretty long by the time we got there. It was back all the way into the parking lot and took us about 30-45 minutes to make it to the ticket booth. I want to say there were 12 ticket booths but only half those were open and they were split into half for buying tickets and another for online purchased tickets.
You will be given a wrist band, map and a money envelope for donations (truly). There is a line of buses waiting to take you to the Ark which is maybe a mile away. The buses remind me of subway cars with seats facing different directions. They will be pretty full so lots of people are standing but also big enough to put a stroller or two on each bus.
The bus will drop you off a good distance from the Ark Entrance. You will need to walk all the way around the lake (which was empty on our visit). I believe you can rent strollers, wheelchairs or electric scooter at the Guest Services building which is on the way to the entrance. Be very careful watching your kids while on the Ark because my son almost got ran over by a lady on one of the electric scooters.
|View from the walkway to the Entrance of the Ark|
|This is the walkway to the entrance of Deck 1 (the start of the encounter). Off to the right is green screens which you can get pictures taken. We didn't view these so I have no idea what the background looks like.|
These ramps go from ground floor to deck 3 and take up the middle of the Ark. The exhibits are in the blue areas of the map below. There is a bathroom and I want to say a snack bar on each floor. There is also a small elevator (red dot on map). This is a good walk and I saw several seniors struggling on the ramp so you may want to take that into consideration when planning your trip.
Deck 1 - The Flood Begins
The start of this deck has "animal" exhibits or really just different sized closed boxes making animals sounds. This is to give you an idea of how the smaller animals were kept inside the Ark.
|Jars lined the side of the Ark|
|The walls in this section were covered with larger animal cages with the water jug between two. Bears, deer, etc.|
|Some of the walls were covered with sacks.|
|What the end of the Ark looks like on all decks.|
Deck 2 - Technology on the Ark
This deck explains how Noah's family maintained the Ark and took care of all the animals during the flood.
This line was just for the Pre-Flood World Exhibit. The line was also down the other side of the Ark. You can see inside the exhibit and it look like just paintings. I heard the wait was almost an hour for a minute exhibit. We skipped this.
|There is a small kid's play area but I did not go into the section.|
|Just an idea of what the crowd looks like on a Saturday.|
|The scroll room.|
The Ark door is pretty cool to see. I wish I could have gotten the full size of the door in the picture but there was a crowd of people behind me all waiting to take the same picture. The doors were huge!
Deck 3 - After the Flood
This was the area I really wanted to see because it housed the Living Quarters. There was another line like the one for the Pre-Flood World and took us close to 30 minutes to get into the exhibit. There were benches lining and a bathroom by the line so my kiddo took a breather while I waited.
This area had to be my favorite part of the Ark.
To exit the Ark you make your way back down the Ramp to the Ground Level. This is also right inside the Gift Shop.
There is also a dinning hall right outside of the Gift Shop called Emzara's Kitchen but we were not hungry and skipped that as we made our way to the Petting Zoo. You can enjoy a donkey ride ($6)/Camel ride ($8) or just walk around the small petting zoo. The only animal they had to pet were goats. A lot of the little kids were having fun in this area. If you walk the small loop you can also see other animals.
Once you are done, make your way back to the bus area and catch a ride back to the parking lot.
Overall it was an ok adventure but I feel it is way overpriced for what you get. My understanding is there may be plans for additional things offered outside of the Ark in the future. If that is the case then the price may be fine but not now. It should be lowered to maybe $25 adult and $10 for child. The $10 parking fee is also way overpriced. If you compare Creation Museum and Ark Encounter then Creation Museum wins because it has more to offer at a lower price.
I would suggest you try to plan your trip for the week day rather then the weekend. I heard several people talking about how empty the Ark is during the week and just packed on the weekend.
|Future plans for the Ark Encounter|
You may also want to read information on our trip to Creation Museum.