You may be wondering…is the Ark Encounter fun for kids? This was not a question I thought to ask before our recent trip to visit the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. I just assumed it would be a great time for my kids. Keep reading to find out more about our Noah's ark experience and whether my kids enjoyed it or not!
WHAT IS THE ARK ENCOUNTER?
You may not have heard of the Ark Encounter and wonder what on earth I am even talking about, LOL. This is a museum and theme park all about Noah's Ark. There is a museum inside a life-sized ark that was built according to Biblical dimensions.
It is located in Williamstown, Kentucky about 45 minutes south of Cincinnati, Ohio.
There are multiple things to do and see on the property and it is located in a lovely area of Kentucky. If you drive north you can also visit the Creation Museum which is in Petersburg, Kentucky. It is about 45 minutes away.
We have talked to quite a few people from our area that had visited the Ark Encounter since it opened in 2016. It has been on our list of places to go for a while now…and we finally made the trip.
Looking back I realized that most of the people we knew who had gone were all older adults who visited without children.
The ark itself was truly a sight to behold. You have to see it to believe it….and I am not exaggerating. It was magnificent. An absolutely beautiful work of craftsmanship. And SO unbelievably big…like so big.
Standing outside the “boat” I still couldn't wrap my mind around how huge it was!
Children will be impressed with the sheer size of this ark.
IS THE ARK ENCOUNTER FUN FOR KIDS?
Is the Ark Encounter fun for kids? I wish I could say that the Ark Encounter is fun for kids, but I can't say that kids will go wild for it.
This is not a cheap place to visit. I took my 2 younger kids who were 8 years old and 15 years old at the time of our visit. There were things they enjoyed, but a lot of the time it was boring for them.
It is a huge exhibit and it was a LOT of walking. There is SO much information and much of it was VERY high level and scientific. Lots and lots and lots of reading….not something my kids want to do on vacation, LOL.
I can tell that the creators of the Ark Encounter have tried to bring more “fun” parts to the museum and it helps, but overall I wouldn't say this is an extremely fun place for kids. It is very educational and if that is your goal then it will be perfect.
Please know that this is my opinion and not everyone will agree with me.
The information is definitely wonderful…but the information isn't overly entertaining for children unless they are very scientifically inclined.
I will also say those very young children will NOT get much out of the indoor exhibits that involve all the reading but will enjoy the playground and the zoo area.
Here is some more in-depth information about areas of the property that children may enjoy.
IS THE ARK EXHIBIT STROLLER AND WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE?
One positive thing about the Ark Exhibit is that it is very friendly for strollers, wheelchairs, and electric mobility scooters.
The ark is 3 floors and there are wide ramps you can use or elevators are also available. They do offer rentals of strollers, double strollers, wheelchairs, and electric scooters. These cost extra.
I will say if you are pushing someone in a wheelchair up these ramps it will be a lot of effort and I suggest you use the elevator. The ramps are long and fairly steep.
The outdoor exhibits have nice sidewalks that make it easy for those pushing someone.
Did I mention that the indoor areas are all air-conditioned? This was nice on the hot day we visited.
INDOOR ARK EXHIBITS KIDS WILL ENJOY
Inside the ark are many exhibits. They bring to life the Bible story about Noah and his journey building the ark and living on the ark and then life after the flood.
These exhibits are top-notch and children will probably enjoy the life-sized sculpted animals inside the ark. The creators were able to show how the animals may have been kept on the ark and how they would have been feed, watered, and cared for during their time on the boats.
There are also areas on the ark where the living quarters are shown in life-sized detail. The creators are clear that these scenes are their own creative interpretation of what things may have been like inside the ark.
High tech video presentations are offered throughout the day, but these were over our youngest daughter's head and she even felt like one video was kind of scary.
Many of the indoor exhibits are just too scientific for MOST kids to enjoy. You could be in there many hours reading and reading about the scientific evidence that supports the flood, the ice age information and so much more. My kids spent quite a bit of time sitting on a bench while my husband and I read all the information.
OUTDOOR ENTERTAINMENT FOR KIDS AT THE ARK
The Ark Encounter tried to bring some entertainment for kids in their outdoor options.
They have the Ararat Ridge Zoo. It is a very small zoo area, but clean and well-kept. It won't take long to walk through this zoo. My children weren't overly impressed because we have visited many huge zoos. If your kids are major animal lovers they may enjoy it.
There are camel rides offered at times for an additional fee. We didn't do the camel rides.
I was able to catch the tail end of an animal encounter and that was fun and is definitely something kids would love.
Ziplines and ariel courses are advertised a lot on the website and at the facility. My youngest had done zip lining at camp this summer and was very excited to do it while we were at the Ark. Unfortunately, she was VERY disappointed when we learned the minimum weight is 75 pounds!! She was under that weight and couldn't do it. Remember this will cost quite a bit of extra money!
The children's playground was nice and our youngest enjoyed playing there despite the hot conditions the day we visited.
If you want to spend more money you can pay extra for your kids to pan for fossils at the Fossil Find area. We did not do this….it was just like other places we have been where you can “pan” for gold or jewels. This fossil find does share about fossils from a Biblical perspective. The cost will run from $6 to $25 depending on what size bag of dirt you pick.
TRUTH TRAVELER VIRTUAL REALITY EXPERIENCE
Another optional exhibit that is in a separate building on the property is the Truth Traveler Virtual Reality Experience. This also costs extra and when we visited the cost was $14.99 for people over age 11 and $9.99 for those under 10 years old.
It is a fully immersive 4K virtual reality experience and is kind of like a ride. The seat moves and there are lots of special effects. You will be wearing a VR headset.
My husband and girls did the Truth Traveler experience and really loved it. It was the highlight of the day for the girls. The experience immerses you in the whole story of the ark and the flood.
Without this part of the day, I think my girls would have been very disappointed with our trip to the Ark Encounter.
Unfortunately, this costs EXTRA on top of expensive entry tickets AND is for people over 40 inches tall…so not every child will be old enough or big enough to do it.
ARK ENCOUNTER GIFT SHOP
There is a HUGE gift shop inside the giant ark. It is very nice and they have so many items kids will want, LOL.
I loved the Fair Trades section where unique items made by people from around the world are sold. These purchases really do help impoverished people all over the world…and the items are so unique and beautiful. My girls got some handmade hair scrunchies.
The main gift shop offers lots of stuffed animals…and many are unique that I had not seen before. There are toys, Biblically-based toys, books, DVDs, and more.
They also have a little bakery that sells sweet treats and coffee.
I purchased a Christmas ornament so we could remember our trip to the Ark Encounter!
If you are on a strict budget I would suggest trying to AVOID the gift shop if your children are with you!!
FOOD OPTIONS AT THE ARK ENCOUNTER
We went to the Ark Encounter in late July on a Monday. It was BUSY….very crowded.
I was really disappointed with the LACK of food options (that were actually open). Inside the ark itself are snack stands on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floors. These offer basics like drinks and grab-and-go food items like chips, granola bars, etc.
There is a very nice family dining restaurant in a building on the property. It is called Emzara's Kitchen. This is a cafeteria-style restaurant. The prices are steep in my opinion….$16.99 for those 11 and over. Children ages 5 to 10 years old are $9.99 and under 5 are free. Seniors cost $14.99 if you are over age 60.
We did not eat at Emzara's Kitchen partly because of the price and also because of the time of day.
Outside on the property were several nice buildings that were supposed to offer foods like smoked meats, pizza, hot dogs, burgers, ice cream, and more. I decided to grab a snack at one of these outdoor venues while the rest of my family was doing the virtual reality experience. NONE of these venues were open….despite the crowds and the fact it was the middle of the day.
IS THE ARK ENCOUNTER WORTH IT?
If you are wondering, is the Ark Encounter is worth it…I will say that it really depends on the person and family.
I am not sorry we went because it is a sight to behold. Nevertheless, it would have been something my husband and I probably could have done on our own at some point instead of taking the kids.
I am not a person questioning the reality of the flood and the ark…so I don't need to read all the evidence behind it. My beliefs in the Bible are solid. The scientific stuff just doesn't hold my interest. I did enjoy seeing how large the ark actually was and hold it may have all worked inside.
The cost is prohibitive for some families. When we went the entrance fees were:
- Adults 18-59 were $49.95
- Adults 60+ were $39.95
- Children ages 11-17 were $24.95
- Kids ages 5-10 are normally $14.95 but were free when we went
- Kids under age 5 are free
This adds up quickly plus you have to pay to park and possibly pay extra for those other attractions I mentioned above.
We did a combo ticket so we could go to the Creation Museum also and it saved us a little bit off the cost of both museums.
WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE LIKE AT THE ARK?
The Ark Encounter is a unique place to go and each family will have to decide if it is worth their time and money and if they think the kids will have fun.
If you have been I would love to hear about your experience and may help someone who is trying to decide if they should go or not.
Feel free to leave a comment….but remember to be kind!
If you are looking for other fun family trip ideas be sure to check these out:
- Colorado Springs Bucket List
- Is the Titanic Museum Good for Kids?
- The Best Family Activities in Wisconsin Dells
- Fun Day Trips for Kansas Families
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