March 31, 2006 — -- Johan Huibers of Holland has used 1,200 trees and spent more than a million dollars building a replica of Noah's Ark nearly the length of a football field.
"I thought to myself, when you build the ark of Noah, people will be impressed, 'What's this?' And then you can tell them the story about the Bible," Huibers said.
The ark will be part theme park, part floating Christian mission. The idea came to Huibers in a dream, a nightmare that Holland was flooded. A similar fear, we're told, drove Noah to build his ark that saved the creatures of the world from rising waters and God's wrath. Huibers' plans are slightly more modest: He plans to house 300 farmyard animals in a petting zoo.
It will cost adults $5 to visit Johan's Ark, and half that for kids. The price of admission gets you a cup of coffee from the onboard cafe when you enter and a free copy of the Gospel as you leave. Huibers will need 100,000 visitors to pay back the bank loans.
Noah took 100 years to build his ark, but Huibers will finish his smaller version in 12 months. He's built it on his own -- without any blueprints -- except for Friday and Saturday, when his 17-year-old son works with him.
This is just the beginning. Next year, Huibers plans to build a full-size replica of Noah's Ark and hopes to sail it around the world, but he may not have his son's help that time.
"When I speak about the big ark, he said, 'Oh pop, you get crazy now,'" Huibers said.
Huibers says his wife doesn't think he's crazy. He admits she's not thrilled at the prospect, though.