For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. Psalm 33:4-8
The Ark Encounter is new enough that folks are curious about our adventure. Allow me … First of all, we drove from Central Florida because we wanted to make a couple of planned stops to visit with friends, visits overdue. I am glad we did this, but if our single intent was a trip to the Ark Encounter and The Creation Science Museum, we would have seriously considered flying into Cincinnati, Ohio and renting a car for a few days. It was nice having our own car, with all the benefits of packing less precisely, not folding dresses and suits, but laying them in the trunk. Our trip was long enough to include several church services; the suits and dresses weren’t for the ark, but you probably knew that.
We arrived at the ark mid-morning, allowing us to avoid the early-birds. Despite crowds, the wait for our bus was brief. A bus moves you from the parking area to the ark park. We were met with guest services, where pleasant and helpful staff availed themselves. Guest services take your photo for yearly passes, sell tickets for zip line – ah, no, we did not – and offer wheelchairs, motorized scooters and strollers for reasonable rental charges.
I suspected that our first day at the ark would be hectic, a Saturday in a weekend that many families would be enjoying as their last hurrah before school starts. To say I was right does not adequately describe the crowd. The ark is monstrous, the largest wooden structure in the world, but once inside very manageable and well done. The walk to the ark from the bus is, well, a walk. We loved it. Beautiful.
The interior did not seem as expansive as outside and it is not because there are certain areas on either end that you do not completely enter, but you can see the structure of the bow and stern. The construction of the ark is part of the tour. You would want to sit occasionally to study the structure details, including the design and likeness of authentic oil lamps throughout. You imagine what it could have been like.
Attention to detail is evidenced everywhere in the ship. I noticed as we walked through the areas where animal kinds were caged that a child was crying. Force of habit caused me to look toward this little boy. He seemed to be overwhelmed by the sounds of animals that realistically added to the exhibits. (Perhaps a little too realistic for him.)
The presentations of exhibits drew us in. We found ourselves praising God for the marvels in His handiwork or considering the scientific truths of His creation. I think the exhibits were carefully and surely – prayerfully designed to deepen faith or ignite faith. Undeniably, this encounter was ministry.
There are plenty of benches throughout and the ramp incline between floors is gentle. Elevators are available should you need them. The design is thoughtful to potential needs of visitors.
After your tour you exit through gift and snack shops. Surprise! Right? Once outside, there is a pizza place, a bbq place, coffee shop, and other small miscellaneous food offerings. As well, there is a large, a very large buffet restaurant. Harry and I decided to take our main meal of the day there. Our feelings were mixed. The negatives being directly related to the size of the crowd. Once we were seated, it was difficult to make our way through the hordes of hungry people in order to get our food. The other negative was the plate size, the size of a salad plate. Harry and I tend to be one plate people. Returning for each course was “not worth the effort”. The food I tasted was almost excellent. A spinach, strawberry salad with pecans was superb. I would have liked a full salad portion of this. I had a little bbq; again good and a little of a vegetable. I forget what it was but it was good. The warmth of the staff removed any irritation, but we chose not to visit “Emzara’s Kitchen” again this trip. I suspect they are experiencing growing pains, of which the results will be wonderful.
We returned on Monday; many people were there but not an overwhelming crowd, some church buses full of friendly and happy souls. After we walked through the ark again, seeing some things we missed during our first trip we bought a coffee and a treat and chose one of many beautiful little pavilions throughout the park. We enjoyed the surroundings and did some people watching as we sipped our cappuccinos. Relaxing, as a vacation should be.
You can learn more about the particulars of this experience by visiting their website.
We spent a Sunday at the Creation Science Museum, but could have easily gone back again. Understand that we had a leisure mindset. We were not on a mission to fit everything in within one day. The museum is a ways from the ark, probably about 40 minutes, but an easy drive. Because we went to church in the hills of Dry Ridge, Kentucky, the drive was a little longer, but beautiful too. We grabbed a light lunch at the museum cafe as soon as we arrived. The location was perfect, and the timing, because it allowed us to eat and stroll over to a brand new theater, a 4-D theater that was showing a film about the 6 days of creation. Just excellent, special glasses and all! The museum closes at six on Sundays so we had limited time. Knowing the Scriptures allowed us to peruse some of the exhibits more quickly, but where we stopped to read or listen, we were thrilled. Before I go any further, let me tell you that early on, we knew we’d want to return. It is fabulous to see a museum whose teachings, not theories, strengthen your knowledge. Words can scarcely describe. They did not neglect to address teaching of an earth that evolved billions and billions of years ago. The museum is beautiful, and laid out very well, but it did take awhile to get my bearings at one point. It seemed we entered an exhibit on one floor and exited on another, made possible by the sloping of the ground. Keep a map in your hand to easily remind you where you are.
The grounds of the Ark Encounter and The Creation Museum are laid out beautifully and thoughtfully, designed for pleasant strolling through well-maintained garden areas.
Harry and I enjoyed seeing these things at our pace, but considered that this trip would be fun to make with a church group, but also it would be – in my opinion – a blessing seen alone, allowing you quiet to to consider and ponder. However you go, do go! See what so many have been blessed by. The quality of the displays rival any parks created, but the depth of truths presented in ways that will long be a blessing to your life. I could say that about very few parks.
If you stay in Dry Ridge, near the Ark, like we did, be prepared for slim food choices. We try to eat one “proper” meal each day when we travel and found ourselves trekking into the nearest city of Florence for this, about 20 miles away. We chatted as we drove, enjoying the countryside, but 20 miles for a simple meal was still a bit much. There are options but I will leave discovering those to you and the internet.
Above all, what made these two experiences superior to many other vacation destinations was the staff. Most places you visit, staff seems overwhelmed and busy with too many responsibilities, or simply apathetic. The people here were just good and kind people. They might have acted as if you were their personal guests and they desired to make your stay as pleasant as possible. I call that hospitality. Great job!
God dwells in His creation and is everywhere indivisibly present in all His works. He is transcendent above all His works even while He is immanent within them. AW Tozer