Did you know there is a place that has a replica of Noah's Ark built to the specifications laid out in the Bible? The town is Williamstown, Kentucky and the structure is massive! Inside the Ark there are three decks, outside there's a giant playground, places to eat and a zoo. There's no better time to visit the Ark Encounter because in 2020, kids 10 and under are FREE.
Disclaimer: My family and I were given free admission into the Ark Encounter along with discounts on dinning and purchases made in the gift shop. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Ark Encounter Review | Visiting the Ark Encounter with Kids
Location: 1 Ark Encounter Drive Williamstown, KY 41097
Hours of Operation: Monday-Saturday 9AM to 6PM, Sunday 1PM to 7PM
The Ark Encounter offers an Annual Pass as well as a combo ticket with admission to both the Ark Encounter and The Creation Museum.
Learn more about tickets offered for The Ark Encounter at the Ark Encounter's Official Website
4 Reasons How the Ark Encounter is Kid-Friendly
The number one question I have when planning to visit any place is, "is it kid-friendly?"
This question means a number of things to me. It means are there things for my kids to do? Can I bring my stroller with me and properly maneuver around?
I have great news for families with young children hoping to visit the Ark Encounter. A day at the Ark Encounter is indeed kid-friendly.
Related: Taking a Stroller to the Grand Canyon. Can It Be Done?
1. The Ark Encounter is Stroller (and Wheelchair) Accessible
Ramps lead you into the Ark, and up to all three of the Ark's decks. The ramps are spacious and one-way so you never have competing traffic. The lanes are clearly marked by arrows and there are bars that work as a divider to keep everyone on their correct side.
Though strollers, wheelchairs and scooters can be rented at the Ark Encounter, we opted to take our stroller because we saw how far back we had to park, we knew we were going to be walking a lot leading up to the Ark.
The parking lot is very large! We arrived late-morning on a Saturday and were a decent amount of rows back from the ticketing booth.
Once you purchase your tickets you'll be instructed to board a bus. The Ark Encounter offers different styles of busing, one of them offers assisted entry which allows for strollers and wheelchairs (and scooters) to be loaded onto the bus with ease.
2. The Ark Encounter Has a Large Playground
We spent an entire day exploring the Ark and the grounds of the Ark Encounter and both of my kids (not surprisingly) said their favorite part was the playground.
This playground is large! Not only does it offer a whole row of swings it also features a large climbing structure that has many different slides at various heights.
This playground is outfitted for kids of all ages!
Included in the row of swings are bucket swings for little ones as well as small playhouses but there is also a rope swing/zip line combination for older, thrill-seeking children to enjoy!
3. The Ark Encounter has a Zoo
What kid doesn't love a zoo?
The Ark Encounter features the Ararat Ridge Zoo that is home to ostrich, camels, zebra, kangaroos, and more!
You can even go inside the goat enclosure and pet the goats!
Related: Is the Dr. Seuss Museum Stroller-Friendly?
4. Kids 4 and Under Eat FREE at Emzara's Kitchen
That's right! Children 0-4 can get a plate of food for free at the buffet-style restaurant on the grounds of the Ark Encounter.
There are other, non-buffet options on site that offer pizza, burgers, and hot dogs but we elected to eat inside at the buffet.
This two-story building boasts a TON of seating (great views can be seen from the top level).
The restaurant is buffet-style but servers put food on the plates for you and they have entirely separate children's station that features chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, and cookies!
Pricing for 2020 is as follows:
Adult: $14.99 (11-59)
Senior: $12.99 (60+)
Child: $8.99 (5-10)
Inside the Ark at the Ark Encounter | What Is It All About?
By now you've decided you want to visit the Ark Encounter for all of the reasons mentioned above so lets talk about the actual Ark.
The Ark itself measures at 510 feet long and over 50 feet high.
This Ark was built to the specifications laid out in the Bible; according to signage hanging inside the Ark (see image below) the structure is based off of a 20.4-inch cubit.
What is a cubit you ask? A cubit is a measurement that was used in ancient culture. A cubit is equal to the length from a person's elbow to the tip of their longest finger. As you can imagine this is not a standard size.
Entering the Ark | Tip: This May Be Scary for Young Children
I know, I just laid out all of the reasons how the Ark Encounter is kid-friendly and now I hit you with this.
It isn't bad. I am just simply giving a heads up that if visiting with young children, you may want to walk quickly though the entrance and first room of "small animal cages". Because upon entering (after you take your family photo in front of a green screen) loud storm sounds can be heard.
To go along with the sounds of thunder and rain falling the lighting is also very dim in this first section. Young children, who don't like storms, may find this a bit jarring and even scary.
The storm sounds and dim lighting do not follow you throughout all three of the decks. It does get increasingly lighter as you go up.
Exhibits Inside the Ark
In addition to replica animal cages with faux-animals inside, there are also exhibits that feature mannequins of Noah and his family in various scenes as they would have been onboard the Ark. There are also scene depictions of a "pre-flood world".
The Ark has various walk-throughs, videos to view and plaques to read. Some plaques answer questions like, were there unicorns and/or dinosaurs on the ark?
The wood-work is certainly something to be studied as well as you walk through because it is quite impressive. Though-out the decks there are various Instagram-able shots that can be taken (and there are markers on the ground to make sure you don't miss it)
Visiting the Ark in 2020
Of course, as with everything in 2020 there are some notable changes that have been made to ensure guest safety while visiting the Ark Encounter.
During our visit we saw multiple signs like the one seen below reminding guests to socially distance, wash their hands and to leave if they are feeling unwell.
There are also markers on the ground (little paw prints) to encourage social distancing while waiting in line and at various exhibits on the grounds; in the zoo, in the ark, the buffet, etc.
Related: What Is It Like Visiting a Theme Park in 2020?
The Ark Encounter | New Safety Measures
The following safety measures have been put in place:
To view the Ark Encounter's Operational Calendar and to plan your own visit be sure to visit the Ark Encounter's Official Website