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Ark Encounter ticket sales rose a bit in January
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Attendance at Ark Encounter was up this past January compared to the same time period a year ago, but the numbers are lower than they were before the pandemic. (This is bad news for the local economy.)
The bottom line? Ark Encounter had 14,724 paying visitors in January. That’s up from the 11,030 people who visited last January, but a bit lower than the 15,790 visitors they had in January of 2020, before the pandemic.
Here are all the attendance numbers we know along with the Safety Fee that Answers in Genesis has paid to the city of Williamstown. (The public nature of that fee is how we know the attendance numbers at all.)
Over the past year, Ark Encounter has started to once again host on-site conferences. Like other tourist attractions, they rely on Spring Break trips, summer vacations, and warmer weather attendees in general, and it’s an open question as to whether those people are coming (or coming back).
In the past few months, they’ve also held a large Gospel music festival and opened a carousel for kids:
They also plan to build a makeshift Tower of Babel to lure new visitors.
Keep in mind that the Ark’s parent company, Crosswater Canyon, received between $1 million and $2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program. Ham also raised at least $1,135,009 in a separate fundraiser to offset COVID-related losses. Despite all that, Answers in Genesis sued its insurers over pandemic-related losses. If they’re not doing well, it’s not for lack of funding.
In fact, AiG recently purchased the former Toyota HQ in Erlanger, KY for $31.3 million. After "renovations and upgrades," the building will house their "educational hub." They clearly have money coming in from sources that don’t involve ticket sales.
Finally, remember that actual attendance is likely higher than these numbers represent because kids get in for free, as do members with lifetime passes. But giving away freebies to children and life members doesn’t help the local economy as much as drawing in first-time customers who are ready to spend money or conference attendees who are there for another reason.
All the stated attendance figures are far smaller than the 1.4 to 2.2 million visitors that Ark Encounter’s parent company predicted they would be pulling in several years ago. The total attendance in 2022 was under 750,000.
(Image via Shutterstock. Large portions of this article were published earlier)