PHOTOS | Kentucky’s Ark Encounter, a recreation of Noah’s Ark, set to open to public Thursday

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. – Ark Encounter is just about ready for a flood of visitors.

The life-size version of Noah’s Ark is located in Williamstown, Ky., just south of Cincinnati, Ohio. More than 8,300 VIP guests and 150 media representatives attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony and preview showing Tuesday.

The attraction opens to the public on Thursday, July 7.

Make no mistake about it: the ark is huge. The “authentic recreation” of Noah’s Ark is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and seven stories high. It’s built to the biblical specifications in Genesis 6.

Ark Encounter is the brainchild of Ken Ham, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum.  He believes God created the world in six days and six nights and rejects the idea that Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

“In a world that is becoming increasingly secularized and biased, it’s time for Christians to do something of this size and this magnitude,” Ham told visitors during a news conference.

People from all 50 states donated money to get the project off the ground. Organizers hope to attract between 1.4 million and 2.2 million visitors within the first year. Ham said research indicated that a large percentage of visitors—perhaps 40 percent or more—will be non-Christians.

“And even if they don’t share our biblical view, they can’t help but be impressed by the structure, craftsmanship and by the attention to detail of the world-class exhibits inside. And who knows? Maybe they’ll be challenged to even talk about the Bible,” Ham said.

In addition to the full-scale Noah’s Ark, Ark Experience features a zoo with live animal shows, zip lines, live entertainment, a restaurant and shopping.

To accommodate large crowds expected for the first few weeks, the ark will welcome visitors from 9 a.m. through midnight for the “first 40 days and nights.” After that, normal hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tickets cost $40 for adults, $31 for seniors and $28 for children. Other ticket options will include a combo ticket granting admission to the Ark and the Creation Museum, which is located about 40 miles away in Petersburg. For more information, visit the Ark Encounter website.