WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. --Soon Americans will have their own full-sized version of Noah's Ark to visit.
For several anxious years, the creators of the popular Creation Museum in northern Kentucky wondered if enough money could be raised through donations and bonds to make their dream of recreating the famed biblical ark a reality.
Now the money is in hand and builders will break ground soon.
Creation Museum founder Ken Ham gave some of the credit to publicity from his Feb. 4 debate over evolution with Science Guy Bill Nye. More than 7 million people saw that debate. The event brought so much attention to the ark project, money began to flow in.
There is now enough to begin constructing the ark. And if funds continue to flow, eventually the big boat will be surrounded by an entire biblically based theme park in Williamstown, Ky.
It's all on a hilly and scenic 800 acres located next to Interstate 75, about 40 minutes from the Creation Museum.
Project manager Mike Zovath showed CBN News around the site and pointed out the ark will be shockingly large.
"It's 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 55 feet high," he said. The bow and the stern take the ark to more than 100 feet tall.
Making the Bible Come Alive
Patrick Marsh, art director on the Jaws and King Kong attractions at Florida's Universal Studios, designed the ark and all the other coming attractions, known collectively as the Ark Encounter.
"You're going to be looking at a skyscraper," Marsh said of the big boat. "But it's going to be a very, very long skyscraper, a lot longer than a football field. About 1-1/2 times the size of a football field."
"This thing is rated to hold over 10,000 people at one time," Zovath said, imagining the wooden boat that will someday loom over this site and sit high off the ground on massive, 12-foot tall pylons.
Zovath told CBN News he believes this will do a lot for people's faith in the truth of the Bible because seeing the ark will make the biblical account of it so plausible.
"It's not something that's just a wild, crazy fairy tale," Zovath stated. "We can show you how it's built and show you that Noah and his family could've built the thing."
Ride a Camel
But both Zovath and Marsh point out not only will the Ark Encounter build faith, but it will offer much fun for all ages.
For instance, Marsh said right behind the ark, "We've got camel and pony rides for the adults and kids."
And after the entire Ark Encounter is complete, there will be entertainment and sites all around the ark.
Zovath said before they get to the big boat, visitors will pass through a pre-flood village like Noah might have lived in.
"Then there's a Tower of Babel another valley over," Zovath said, pointing far away across the tree-covered acres.
Enough to Drive Kids Crazy
A massive petting zoo area will feature all sorts of animal shows and a giant aviary will be filled with exotic birds.
Marsh predicts kids will go crazy for a special children's area. He's worked on the designs for so long, he talks about the attraction as if it already exists for the kids.
"It's filled with net climbs," he said. "It's filled with all kinds of places for them to run and play. We've got zip-lines in there. We've got rocks to climb. We've got all kinds of caves for them to explore."
Zovath is especially excited about the "Journey Through History" attraction.
"What we call 'The 10 Plagues' ride, our only real ride we've planned," he said.
Visitors will float down an imaginary Nile River andexperience the 10 plagues God rained down on Pharaoh's Egypt when he wouldn't free the Hebrew people enslaved in his country.
Red Sea Will Part
And after visitors survive the 10 plagues, Marsh promises they'll go through a certain famous parting of the waters.
"There's going to be a Red Sea," he said excitedly.
Much of Ark Encounter will concentrate on the world of the Old Testament. But it all leads to the time and events of the New Testament.
"We'll have a first century village, where you can sit down and have a meal with the disciples and learn about the times...what it was like being with Jesus," Marsh said.
"A Nazareth or a Bethlehem, something that looks like that," Zovath added.
Surrounding and in the middle of all the sites will be lively live entertainment to constantly perk the park up.
"We've got parades. We've got actors," Marsh said. "We've got jugglers. We've got sword-swallowers and fire-eaters."
Standing on the now-empty acreage, Zovath said roughly $140 million will make it all happen.
Americans Ready to Visit
Marsh believes it's worth the expense. He pointed to research indicating two-thirds of Americans will want to come to this Bible-centered site, 1.2 million minimum in just the first year alone.
"You think about it, how many churches actually reach 1.2 million people with the Gospel in this country?" Marsh said.
He said he believes Chrisitans will have a blast when they visit, but there's a deeper evangelical goal the creators have.
"The whole point of the Ark Encounter, is to reach people who wouldn't go to church, who wouldn't necessarily look into what Christianity is about and who Jesus really is," Marsh explained.
He believes many visitors will come to gape at the ark, but they'll end up embracing the cross.