When we purchased our tickets to Ark Encounter, we decided to buy the package deal so we could also visit the Creation Museum. The Creation Museum has been around a lot longer than Ark Encounter and it's not too far of a drive from Ark Encounter, so we decided to incorporate it into our trip too.
The Creation Museum
The morning we went to the Creation Museum it was gloomy and bit rainy and a weekday, so it was very quiet. We didn't have trouble finding any parking space and there was no line at all for checking in.
The Grounds and Gardens
We packed our rain jackets, so grabbed those and started outside first. The grounds are beautiful and since it wasn't raining too hard (mostly spritzing), we took our time exploring all that there was to see. The gardens on the grounds were incredibly beautiful and all laid out really well.
The animals in the zoo are really well cared for and we sat and listened to a zoo keeper staff member share a devotional and show us one of their bearded dragons, who the kids got to hold and touch.
They had alpacas, chickens, donkeys, goats, and pigs. Similar to Ark Encounter, they also camels you could pay extra to ride and a zip line course but we skipped all of that. We also skipped the park because everything was wet, but it looked fun.
Inside the Creation Museum: The Upper Level
When the outside got more full we headed inside and went straight to watching a 4D movie on creation. Our kids loved getting to wear the special glasses and the effects of a seat rumble or cool air blasts along with the film. The film we saw was the entirety of the gospel message presented. It was really cool!
As we made our way through the upper level, we say exhibits about the authority of the Bible, and creation and then went through a flow of exhibits that followed the story of creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, Christ, the cross, and consummation.
The Bible exhibit was fascinating but required a lot of reading and was very dark, so our kids didn't like it as much. I could have spent all day in there! The Garden of Eden display in the creation section was my children's favorite and was the most kid friendly. They also liked the display on dragons and mythology.
The corruption, catastrophe and confusion exhibits detailed a lot of what is found now at the Ark Encounter (as far as information about the flood, the ark, dinosaurs, etc).You can tell this museum was built first and then they decided to expand to build Ark Encounter.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it was, but this upper level felt somehow "preachy" to me or "argumentative" in a way. It was certainly fascinating, and I really loved some of the exhibits but it definitely felt different somehow than Ark Encounter.
The last three exhibits are very explicit in the redemption gospel message. I loved the inclusion of prophecy in the Christ exhibit. I've been deep into that information all summer writing Signs of the Savior, so it was very cool to see that same information in a museum!
This first part of the museum included a lot of apologetics, creationism vs. evolution information on a scientific approach to days of creation. Most of the museum required reading and there were a few displays that we scary for my kids (those that included images of starvation, poverty, war, destruction, slavery and the holocaust, etc) that we zipped through. I would say the target age was older than the target age for Ark Encounter.
Inside the Creation Museum: The Lower Level
The lower level had my favorite exhibits. There was one room focused on all the different styles of houses and dress in Israel during the time of Jesus. That one was really neat.
Another exhibit my kids really loved was the Insectorium. There was an interactive animatronic figure that my kids loved hearing share about all the different insects and bugs and how they fit into God's creation.
This level also had a huge section on dinosaurs in their Dinosaur Den with dinosaur eggs, real fossils and skeletons and replicas.
My favorite exhibit was the Fearfully and Wonderfully Made exhibit. It was amazing to see so much information in one place about the development of children in the womb.
The animations and the models were so cool to look at with the kids. It was really powerful to reflect on how amazing this part of creation is and what a gift it is to have a role in participating in the process!
We got suckered into a gift shop on the way out, but our kids were so happy to leave with a stuffed animal and plus plus blocks to remember their trip. Honestly the gift shop prices were fairly reasonable and I saw a few of our favorite books featured on their shelves!
We thought about eating at the cafe there, but there were no options for gluten free food (it was mostly pizza and pasta) and it was expensive. We saw a lot of families eating lunch outside the museum where they had nice picnic tables and umbrellas. It seems like this museum is a lot more friendly and accessible for bringing food with you and eating it outside.
We spent about 3 and 1/2 hours there in total and that felt like enough time. It was interesting to see how many crossover activities there were between the museums (almost all of the extra paid options were the same, and the two zoos were very similar). I think you could go to one or the other and enjoy the experience as much as going to both. But I'm so glad we went! It's unique to be in an environment that is so bold and clear about the gospel and unapologetic in displaying truth!
I hope this was helpful and don't forget to read Part 1 about the Ark Encounter!