Perhaps you all have heard about the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. You probably knew that you can visit during the day during business hours, while the ark is filled to capacity with tons of people. But, did you know that you can visit the ark during the night? And have the ark all to yourself? It’s called the overnight ark encounter experience and it was the best trip I could have taken!
How does the overnight ark encounter work?
It’s simple. You just need a group of participants to sign up. I went with my church. Kids in the children’s ministry who memorized their Bible verses and did their take home work for most of the year were allowed to attend for free (with the church paying their way). We had a group of about 20 people. Tickets were approximately $80 each, which includes snacks and a free standard breakfast.
The overnight ark encounter fills up quickly, so you need to make reservations way in advance. You arrive at 9:00 p.m., which is when the ark closes to the public. The group gets to sleep overnight in the ark, with boys on one floor and girls on another. You also get a personalized tour of the ark once you arrive.
What to bring to the overnight ark encounter:
Adults can bring their own blow-up mattress. Kids can bring a yoga mat to sleep on.
- Pillow and bedding
- Comfy walking shoes
- Change of clothes and socks
- Phone charger
There are limited electrical sockets. We only had two in the section where we slept. The ark does provide two electrical power strips, but you may want to bring your own portable phone charger.
Please note that the ark does not provide showers for overnight guests. You can wash up in the sink or just lather up on the deodorant.
When you arrive at the ark encounter:
When you arrive at the ark encounter, you will be shuttled by bus to the ark. You will meet your team leaders who will break you up into small groups to explore the ark. After putting your sleeping items down in your section of the ark, a safety demo and fire drill is given.
Basically, you have from 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. to explore the ark by yourselves. Again, let me emphasize that you have the ark all to yourselves. It’s the most amazing experience, especially if you dislike crowds.
In addition, there is a beautiful and comforting feeling of peace in the ark. Not once did I feel uncomfortable. It was like all the worries of the world were left outside and couldn’t touch you once you were in the ark. Such an incredible feeling and the feeling of peace lasted the entire trip.
Start the Tour:
The personalized tour starts on the main floor, where you get to see how the doors and walls of the ark were formed and put together with reinforced steel bars and wood.
Then you were led to see how they believed the animals were kept in their cages. They showed the feeding and watering system, as well as how poop was eliminated to keep the cages clean.
Next we were shown the hull of the ark. This is what they imagined the hull of the ark would have looked like.
The ark also includes many written descriptions, such as this one about the lumbar used to build the ark. I didn’t have a ton of time to read each one, so I snapped a picture of each and read them on the way home.
Then you saw the large animals that would have been kept in cages.
Next you saw how small reptiles would have been caged and fed through a self-feeding system.
In addition, you are introduced to Noah and his family as they are praying for safety in the ark.
How Noah’s family lived:
Thereafter, you get to see how Noah and his family would have lived in the ark. Frankly, it looked so comfortable to me that I wouldn’t have minded living there!
Here is Noah climbing up to release the raven and the dove.
Our big group was then broken down into groups of 4-5 people. Each group had a tour guide. Our group went to the top floor where we got to engage in a scavenger hunt. We went through around 10 separate exhibits to find answers to questions. The exhibits described man’s beginnings, sin, the fall, human depravity, the ice age, and how the flood occurred. Each exhibit was extremely detailed, with many posters and demonstrative exhibits.
Next we got to see the workshops were Noah and his sons would have worked. They worked with wood and iron.
They even had a scroll room where parchments would have been kept.
Finally, it’s time to sleep. The group is provided plenty of snacks before bed. My fitbit estimated that we had walked approximately 3 miles from the time we got there to midnight. The ark provides a sleep mask, as the lights do not turn off at night for safety reasons. You can also bring your own sleep mask if you prefer. One of the tour guides sleeps near each group as well so you are not left alone in the ark.
Get a good night’s sleep because wake-up call is at 6:30 a.m. The tour guide will wake you up in the morning. Get ready to go and pack your things to take back to your vehicles. The guide will then take you to the cafe where breakfast is served. If you prefer a hot breakfast, you can purchase the breakfast buffet for about $10.00.
Your overnight ark encounter does not end with breakfast! In fact, you then get a personalized tour around the zoo, with glimpses into how the animals are cared for.
They have a goat enclosure with about 20-30 goats that you can enter. The goats are super friendly and like to be petted.
After the zoo tour is ended, which takes about an hour, you are permitted free time to go back into the ark or around the zoo again. The ark provides you with a wristband for access and you can stay the whole day. Just be warned, once the ark opens to the public, it gets very crowded fast. No longer can you run around the ark uninhibited. During the day, there are lines to get into exhibits and workers who tell you where to go. You can usually get around this by saying that you stayed overnight and had already seen the exhibit.
The ark encounter provides several food carts outside for eating. The cafe provides a lunch buffet. Adults are $15 and kids are $8.
The ark encounter also has a beautiful playground for the kids. They have a small “zipline”, merry go-rounds, slides, and a maze.
The Overnight Ark Encounter Experience
I loved my overnight ark encounter experience. It felt so personalized being able to be the only people in the ark. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I would recommend it for everybody to try!