Between a 30-year property tax break, a county development grant and a 10-year package of state tax incentives, the Ark Encounters theme park seems set to open on time and under budget in 2014. The project, which is partially owned by the same people that brought us the Creation Museum, promises visitors a full size ark, a replica of the Tower of Babel (no word as to whether it will be felled regularly) and a petting zoo.
But what else might be in store? We had some ideas.
1. Can You Spot Your Daughter-In-Law?
Fun for the extended family! Inspired by the story of Judah, Tamar and Onan in Genesis 38, female visitors are invited into a room and given historically-accurate prostitutes' clothes. Once veiled, they are placed with similarly-dressed re-enactors by a shrine and encouraged to hit on their male relatives. Those who manage to escape with their father-in-laws' belts win (a.k.a., avoid a public burning)! In a comedic note, any men caught masturbating are struck by God's Lightning (TM).
2. Die Like An Egyptian
Inspired by the plagues God sent to torment the Egyptians in Exodus 7-11, visitors must make their way through an obstacle course that includes: swimming a river of "blood"; traversing a range filled with frogs, flies, lice, locusts and dead livestock; being sprayed with a substance designed to induce hives in all that encounter it (lancing the boils at the end got too messy!); a trail on which they are pelted with balls of ice as thunder crashes overhead; and a pitch-black room the leads to the exit. Eldest sons are then chloroformed to simulate death and the entire family is de-loused before exiting into a "desert paradise." (Please note: Jewish guests will be led straight to the desert after a brief wading excursion.)
3. When Is It Rape?
In this girl's-only exhibit, women are schooled on the finer points of Deuteronomy 22. After surviving ritualistic shaming for the sin of wearing pants (Deuteronomy 22:5), ladies are offered a range of dresses and skirts for purchase before continuing on to the Two Doors Of Decision. Women who choose one door are led to a field (22:25); those who choose the other are led onto a historically accurate street (22:23 and 28); all women are then "discovered" by a strange man who will attempt to put them in sleeper holds. Those who scream get to advance to the "wedding chapel" with their assailants, where they are reunited with male relatives; those who don't are pelted with rubber "stones" and forced to exit the park. Childcare services will be provided to families whose daughters don't pass, so they can continue enjoying the attractions while their daughters think about what they've done.
4. Wrestling With Angels
One of the most popular attractions at Ark Encounters, male guests are encouraged to doff their clothing to wrestle with the park's "angels" in a secluded room, away from friends and family, to experience the joy that Jacob did while wrestling an angel in Genesis 32:24-30. In order to preserve the verisimilitude of the experience, guests are paired exclusively with superhumanly attractive young men in the best physical condition, oiled so as to make it more difficult to win the wrestling match, and led to darkened rooms designed to look like a riverfront beaches. The match is ended when the "angel" touches the hollow of each guests' thigh: guests are encouraged to limp back to their families as Jacob himself did.
5. Cast Away
As Ark Encounters is no common theme park, the exit itself is an encounter with our Biblical past. Like Adam and Even before us, guests -- because who among us is not a sinner? -- are cast out from the park at the end of each day, as recounted in Genesis 3. Forced to walk over super-heated pavement three miles over a field filled with thorns and thistles, with dust and dirt whipped into the air with industrial fans, our guests will finally reach the parking lot three miles from the gate.