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First Look: Ark Encounter a 'Jaw-Dropping Experience'

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. -- Did you ever doubt that Noah could have built an ark so large all those animals could have fit on it?

Well, visual proof is here as the Noah's ark re-creation near Williamstown is close to completion.

CBN News went behind the scenes at Ark Encounter on an invitation-only sneak peek at the giant ark as it comes together.

Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis and head of the Creation Museum, gave the long and winding tour up, down and all around this structure that's almost the length of two football fields.

With the ark looming far into the sky behind him, Ham told CBN News, "This is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, 51 feet high."

"It's built 15 feet off the ground," he continued. "One of the things people say when they come here, they stand and look at it and they say, 'Wow, we never realized this was so big.'"

That's a feeling every visitor will have as they park on a neighboring hill and take shuttle buses down through a valley and drive up towards the monstrous boat, finally queuing up in the vast space directly underneath it.

"The immensity of this structure – over 500 feet long – I would call it a jaw-dropping experience," Mark Looy, co-founder of Answers in Genesis, said.

"People are used to those bathtub arks with straws sticking out the chimney, about to sink at any moment," Ham said with a smile. "And when they see the size of this, then they start saying, 'Well maybe Noah could fit the land animal kinds on board.'"

"That's really what we're doing here: showing the feasibility of this: how could Noah feed them? How could they get rid of the waste?" Ham continued.

"It only gets better when you go inside this massive structure, the three decks and the top floor," Looy added.

Speaking of the 132 exhibits that will fill the vast interior, he said, "The exhibits in the ark itself will be stunning, very similar in professionalism and quality to what's seen at the Creation Museum 40 miles away.

"Up to 2 million people a year will come to this. It's going to be a world-class attraction," Ham said, quoting research done specifically about Ark. "I believe it's going to be one of the greatest Christian outreaches of our era of history."

Ark Encounter opens to the public July 7, and Ham said there's a special reason for that.

"In it says that's when Noah and his family entered the ark," Ham explained. "So we thought the 7th of the 7th would be a good time to open."

Several dozen Amish carpenters used their traditional techniques and authentic Bible specs to help build this largest timber-frame structure in the world.

"What we want people to take away from this is 'I didn't realize Noah's Ark was so big and wow, they answered a lot of questions.'"

"And we're not forcing the Christian message on them, but it's going to be there for them," Ham said.  "And if people just go away saying 'hmm, maybe I need to look into this. Maybe I need to consider what the Bible says,' then to me, we've accomplished a lot.

Ark Encounter won't stop with just an ark. There'll also be a massive petting zoo and a restaurant that sits more than 2,000.

And as the money comes in to build more, Ham, Looy and their partners have planned out an entire theme park.

"Over the years, we're also going to recreate other events from the Book of Genesis and even the Book of Exodus," Looy told CBN News. "We'll get into other events of biblical history like the Tower of Babel and also Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea.

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About The Author


As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress. Strand began his tenure at CBN News in 1985 as an evening assignment editor in Washington, D.C. After a year, he worked with CBN Radio News for three years, returning to the television newsroom to accept a position as editor in 1990. After five years in Virginia Beach, Strand moved back to the nation's capital, where he has been a correspondent since 1995. Before joining CBN News, Strand served as the newspaper editor for