Navigating Ark Encounter

The Ark Encounter is not just impressive architecturally, but lives up to expectations as an immersive experience. The Ark Encounter, which is located in Williamstown, Kentucky, features Noah’s life-size ark built according to the dimensions (510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet high) recorded in the Bible.

The ark itself is actually on a hill above the parking lot. Since the ark is so high up, in comparison to the parking lot, much of it is concealed until you get up to the site of the ark. When you reach the ark the first thing you notice, apart from how big the ark is, is the vast amount of greenery. The landscape surrounding the ark is full of plants which creates a breathtaking view. There are also activities outside of the ark that make the most of nature like zip lines, camel rides and the petting zoo. The landscape surrounding the ark establishes a natural aesthetic that visitors can see carried into the ark itself. The interior of the ark, just like the exterior, was kept wooden with little to no painted walls. The warm lighting that was used inside the ark reinforced the very natural aesthetic that was constructed, but also adds to the experience by allowing visitors to feel like they were an ark as opposed to a museum. 

The ark’s interior is full of beautiful displays and colorful illustrated posters that stand out against the very plain appearance of the walls and beams around them. Designers also created consistency through their organization the vast amount of information displayed. The colorful, illustrated posters typically addressed frequently asked questions or addressed events that lead up to “The Great Flood”, topics like creation, sin coming into the world, etc. Exhibitions were given to topics that discussed the logistics of the ark itself, how it worked and what it was like to live in it. The signs and posters in these exhibitions were more simplistic using solid color and more simplistic illustrations, allowing a reader to focus on more information. Exhibitions also included realistic, talking mannequins of the characters. This contributed to the immersive experience of the Ark Encounter. 

The signs that were used to help visitors navigate through the ark followed the established mood and aesthetic of the rest of the ark. They were simple and pointed to where the stairs, the restrooms and other exhibitions could be found. There were also maps and guides that were handed to visitors before going up the ark. On one side was an illustrated map that showed visitors an overview of where things were located relative to each other. This map was colorful and completely illustrated, similar to maps found in amusement parks, helping visitors get familiar with the layout of the Ark Encounter. On the other side there was a map of the ark itself which showed a bird’s eye view of each floor (the ground level and the 3 decks). This map was less colorful and less graphic which allowed viewers to focus on the layout of the map and find their way to specific areas. 

The making of a life size replica of Noah’s Ark is one that brings many high expectations. I believe designers were able to surpass these expectations and create a memorable experience.