Holy Land Experience
|Fiction over fact|
|How it didn't happen|
The Holy Land Experience was a
series of gift shops linked by Biblical tableaux theme park located in Orlando, Florida, run by the Trinity Broadcasting Network designed to show you (yes you, you miserable sinner) the historical Middle East from a US fundie perspective.
While Da Vinci's Notebook calls something else in Orlando the "promised land", this is the Real Thing. It featured in Bill Maher's movie Religulous.
The "majestic gates of The Holy Land Experience" opened on February 5, 2001. Initially opening on Sundays, the HLE dropped the practice in 2005 "to give the staff... time to spend that day in worship". (There's nothing like getting a break from work!)
In 2011 entry to the Holy Land Experience would set an adult back $35 for a full day's pass, with concessionary rates for youths (6 to 12 years) and for children (3 to 5 years) of $20 and $9 respectively. In 2012 prices for an adult were hiked 14% to $40, while those for youths increased by 25% from $20 to $25 - although a youth was redefined as 6 to 18 years - and children escaped with a mere 11% rise to $10.
The HLE was founded by a Jewish-born Baptist minister, Marvin ('Marv') Rosenthal. Marv is also chief executive of Zion's Hope, a ministry devoted "toward reaching the Jewish people for the Messiah". The Jewish Defence League picketed the HLE on its opening day, concerned that the park aimed to convert Jews to Christianity. After experiencing financial difficulties and racking up debts of $8m, the HLE was bought by the Trinity Broadcasting Network in June 2007 for $37m. In order to reduce property taxes by $300,000 it agreed with Orange County that it would provide free admission for one day each year, but the date of free entry remains a closely-guarded secret "out of concern over a possible 'uncontrollable situation'". However, the HLE managed to cope with the maximum daily limit of 2000 in 2010.
Herman Cain visited the HLE in November 2011 as part of his campaign for nomination as Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential election.
In February of 2020 the Tampa Bay Times reported that as of April 18 of that year the park would lay off 118 employees and end all theatrical productions and other entertainment, though the Church of All Nations and the museum would remain open.  By March 14 of that year, the entire park was closed. In the following year, the park was sold to AdventHealth, a Seventh-day Adventist health group and hospital network. Ultimately, the property was decided to be used for a new emergency room with the attractions themselves demolished starting in late April 2023.
Any visit to HLE was not complete without "HOLY COMMUNION with Jesus" (10:30, 10:45, 11:15, 1:30, 1:45, 2:00, 2:15, 2:30, 4:00) and one couldn't forget:
|ISRAELI HOLY SITES – Authentically Reproduced|
|Garden of Eden||Bethlehem Bus Loop||Shepherd’s Field||“Eyes of the Lord” & “Pieta”|
|The Jesus Boat||Tiny Town of Bethlehem||Birth Place of Jesus||Bethlehem Bell Tower|
The Trinity Broadcasting Network transmitted a biblical-themed cookery program called Manna from Heaven hosted by chef Christian Andre Pitre [sic]. A sample Christmas recipe featured on the HLE site comprises authentic Holy Land dishes such as:
- Bacon Breasted Goose (we kid you not) in
- Spiced Acorn Squash (squash being, of course, a New World food)
- Chocolate Cheesecake Pumpkin Pie (chocolate and pumpkin being, of course, New World foods)
- Official website
- Orlando Sentinel: The Holy Land Experience; Blending 20 centuries into a living Bible museum
- The Guardian: The Holy Land Experience: Florida's Christian theme park, (23 December 2011)
- ↑ The Holy Land Experience (archived from March 4, 2022).
- ↑ Da Vinci's Notebook - Magic Kingdom In The Sky lyrics
- ↑ Orlando Sentinel: Movie review: 'Religulous'
- ↑ HLE: History
- ↑ Holy Land attraction will close on Sundays
- ↑ Online discount rate of $31 (July 2, 2011)
- ↑ Silver Shekel Shop - Make a donation
- ↑ CBS News: Controversy at Religious Theme Park
- ↑ Orlando Sentinel: Holy Land free day still a mystery
- ↑ Orlando Sentinel: Thousands flock to another free day at Holy Land
- ↑ Herman Cain and the Holy Land Experience
- ↑ https://www.tampabay.com/arts-entertainment/2020/02/18/christian-theme-park-holy-land-experience-will-lay-off-118-workers/
- ↑ Inside the Magic: Demolition Starts at Florida’s Most Unique Theme Park