Holy Land Experience

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Orlando crucif.jpg
Re-enactment of the crucifixion

The Holy Land Experience (HLE) is a Christian theme park in Orlando, Florida and registered non-profit corporation. HLE conducts weekly church services and bible studies for the general public. HLE’s theme park recreates the architecture and themes of the ancient city of Jerusalem in 1st century Judea. The Holy Land Experience is owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Jan Crouch is Director and CEO. [1]

History[edit]

Founding[edit]

Marvin Rosenthal, a Russian/Jewish born Christian minister, purchased the undeveloped property in 1989. Ivanov founded both the Holy Land Experience and Zion's Hope, which funded the park's initial construction. The park opened in February 2001. The Jewish Defense League protested at the Holy Land Experience on its opening day; the group claimed that the purpose of the park was to convert Jews to Christianity, although Ivanov denied these claims.[2]

The Scriptorium: Center for Biblical Antiquities[edit]

On August 17, 2002, the Holy Land Experience Scriptorium museum opened. It features the Van Kampen Collection of biblically related artifacts. The collection includes ancient scrolls, manuscripts, and early printed editions of the Bible. The collection is the fourth largest of its kind. The Van Kampen Collection was founded in 1986 by Robert and Judith Van Kpen. In 1994 Robert Van Kampen established a privately funded research library for the purpose of presenting the collection to the academic community as well as the general public. The Scriptorium: Center for Christian Antiquities, located in Grand Haven, MI, housed the Collection. In 2002, the Collection relocated to Orlando, where it is on loan to the Holy Land Experience.[3]

Trinity Broadcasting Network ownership[edit]

In June 2007, the Holy Land Experience Board of Directors sold the property to the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), for an estimated $37 million. The property was an estimated $8 million in debt at the time of the sale.[4] A that time TBN planned to update the park and use the property to build a Central Florida broadcasting facility, and a movie studio in order to produce Christian films.

On August 21, 2007, former president and board member, Tom Powell, resigned his position to seek "new challenges." Four people remained on the park's board: Paul Crouch Sr., Jan Crouch, Paul Crouch Jr., and Matthew Crouch.[5] Between 50 and 100 employees lost their jobs when they were cut from the payroll in October 2007.[4]

Under TBN’s ownership, The Holy Land Experience underwent construction and the addition of new landscaping, exhibits, restaurants, and theaters which feature live musical and theatrical productions.[6] The park has also introduced weekly bible studies, church services and live cooking demonstrations. The Smile of a Child Adventure Land was added to the park exhibits. This children’s park features exhibits and activities for children, such as a wilderness rock-climbing wall, toy store, children’s theater and craft center.

Holy Land Experience mission statement[edit]

HLE is a non-denominational Christian theme park and church. Church services and bible studies are conducted by ordained pastors for the general public on a weekly basis. HLE is registered as a non-profit corporation with the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations.[7]

Church of All Nations[edit]

In 2012, the 2,000 seat Church of All Nations auditorium opened. The facility features live presentations and reenactments of the passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and the depiction of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven. Live taping of TBN’s flagship TV show, Praise the Lord, are also taped in this facility, in addition to concerts and church services.

Exhibits[edit]

There are approximately 40 exhibits in the park, including several restaurants and retail shops.[8][9]

  • Jerusalem Street Market: A Middle Eastern marketplace, with city well, and street merchants who interact with guests.
  • The Old Scroll Shop: An example of 1st century shopping.
  • Church of All Nations Prayer Garden: Based on the Church of All Nations built in 1924 by the Catholic Church on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The traditional church depicts a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest.
  • The Judean Village: Outdoor vignette stage for dramas and musicals.
  • Calvary’s Garden Tomb: A replica of the Garden Tomb where Jesus’ body was laid to rest.
  • Oasis Palms Café: A cafe with an authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere.
  • Temple Plaza: A six story, white and gold temple, which was the center of Jerusalem’s religious life, serves as a backdrop for the Temple Plaza. It hosts live musicals, presentations, and events.
  • Last Supper Communion: Guests may partake of the last supper with Jesus and disciples.
  • Jerusalem Model 66 A.D.: The world’s largest indoor model of Jerusalem. Presentations explain the city’s landmarks and Christ’s final days in Jerusalem.
  • The Shofar Shop: A gift shop.
  • Shofar Auditorium: A state-of-the-art venue for dramas, musicals, and presentations.
  • The Scriptorium: A presentation of the history of the Bible, including authentic, ancient artifacts from around the world.
  • Living Word Prayer Garden: Gardens for resting, reflecting and praying.
  • Crystal Living Waters: A dancing waters presentation.

Tax status[edit]

There was a four-year legal fight concerning unpaid property taxes that Orange County Property Appraiser Bill Donegan alleged were owed. Donnegan argued that the Holy Land Experience is a theme park. Donegan dropped his fight after state lawmakers passed a law in 2006 granting a tax exemption for theme parks that display, exhibit, illustrate and interpret biblical manuscripts. This is similar to the tax exemption for museums that present historical information on other subjects. The law prevented Orange County from collecting the alleged back taxes as well as forgiving the park $300,000 in yearly property taxes. The law requires the park to offer an annual free admissions day.[10][11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Davis, James D. (2007). "Holyland theme park". Sun Sentinel (Tribune Company). Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  2. ^ "Controversy At Religious Theme Park: Jews Protest, Claim Goal Is To Convert Jews To Christianity". CBS NEWS. CBS Interactive Inc. 2001-02-05. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  3. ^ "The Van Kampen Collection". Solagroup.org. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  4. ^ a b Pinsky, Mark I.; Susan Thompson (2007-10-21). "Scores lose jobs as Holy Land undergoes extreme makeover: The new owners preach the prosperity gospel while boosting park attendance". Orlando Sentinel (Tribune Company). Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  5. ^ Holy Land Experience chief resigns 10 weeks into TBN takeover - Carnegie Knight Foundation
  6. ^ "Live Shows 2012". The Holy Land Experience. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  7. ^ "Department of State". www.sunbiz.org. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  8. ^ "Seasonal Hours". The Holy Land Experience. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  9. ^ "Holy Land Experience Park Map". Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "Holy Land Experience gains ground for growth: Small attraction buys adjacent office park". Orlando Business Journal. 2009-01-09 (modified 2009-01-12). Retrieved 2009-04-06.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ Kassab, Beth (June 29, 2009). "Holy Land free day still a mystery". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 28°29′46″N 81°25′59″W / 28.496172°N 81.433004°W / 28.496172; -81.433004