The Holy Land Experience
The Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida is a Christian theme park currently owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network. The park attempts to recreate themes and architecture pertaining to 1st Century Jerusalem and Judea. Visitors to the park can view biblically-themed exhibits, live entertainment, shop, and dine. The mission of The HLE is to depict Christianity's Jewish roots and to serve as a non-denominational Christian living biblical museum and church. Additionally, ordained pastors conduct weekly services and bible studies for the general public.
Backstory and Context
In 1989, Russian/Jewish born minister Marvin Rosenthal purchased the property that would become The Holy Land Experience. Funding was provided by Zion's Hope, another organization founded by Rosenthal. The park opened its doors in 2001, not without controversy. An economic downturn and the inability to advertise nationally led the Board of Directors to the decision to sell and, in 2007, TBN purchased Holy Land.
The HLE offers visitors the opportunity to view approximately 43 biblically-themed exhibits. One of these is the Scriptorium, which opened in 2002. The Scriptorium houses the Van Kampen Collection, the fourth largest private assemblage of ancient scrolls, artifacts, and manuscripts in the world, including early editions of the Bible. Some of the documents are over 4,000 years old.
Another key feature of The HLE is its live entertainment, ranging from biblical reenactments to the evening Living Crystal Waters show on the Reflecting Pool. The most significant addition to the park in recent years is the Church of All Nations, a large auditorium with a capacity for 2,000 people. Opened in 2012, the facility hosts live presentations, concerts, church services, as well as reenactments of the passion, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Additionally, it is the location of live tapings for TBN's "Praise the Lord" television show.
Much of the architecture in The HLE is modelled after locations in the ancient city of Jerusalem. This includes the Damacus Gate, the Great Temple on Mt. Moriah, the Via Dolorosa, and a Middle Eastern themed marketplace. Guests can also stroll through 3 prayer gardens, complete with landscaping and statuary. The park is open six days a week and weekly church services are held every Sunday morning at the Trinity Christian Center.