Holy Land Experience

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Holy Land Experience
Holy Land Experience - Church of All Nations.jpg
Church of All Nations at Holy Land Experience
LocationOrlando, Florida, United States
Coordinates28°29′46″N 81°25′59″W / 28.496172°N 81.433004°W / 28.496172; -81.433004Coordinates: 28°29′46″N 81°25′59″W / 28.496172°N 81.433004°W / 28.496172; -81.433004
OwnerAdvent Health
OpenedFebruary 2001; 20 years ago (2001-02)
Operating seasonYear-round
Statusclosed 2021

The Holy Land Experience (HLE) was registered as a Christian-based theme park in Orlando, Florida and registered non-profit corporation. HLE conducted weekly church services and bible studies for the general public. HLE’s theme park recreated the architecture and themes of the ancient city of Jerusalem in 1st-century Judah. The Holy Land Experience was owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

History[edit]

Lake in the center of the park

The park has its origin in a dream of Marvin Rosenthal, a Jew of Russian origin who became a Baptist pastor, founder of the missionary organization Zion's Hope, who bought land in Orlando in 1989.[1] The park opened in February 2001.[2]

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 Kampen. 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]

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] At 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] Jan Crouch was Director and CEO until her death in May 2016.[6]

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.[7] 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 living biblical museum 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.[8]

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 the facility, in addition to concerts and church services.

Closure[edit]

In February 2020, after a sharp decline in revenue for several years, the park announced that it would be laying off 118 employees, representing most of its staff, and would be ending all theatrical productions, restaurants and retail shops.[9] On August 2, 2021 the property was sold to AdventHealth who plan to redevelop the land for a new health care center. [10][11]

Exhibits[edit]

Jerusalem Model A.D. 66

There were approximately 43 exhibits in the park.[12][13][14]

God with us – Holy Land Experience
Holy Land Experience – God with us

Controversies[edit]

In 2001, the Jewish Defense League accused the park of proselytizing Jews because the owner of Zion's Hope Park was a missionary organization.[15] Founder Marvin Rosenthal categorically refuted this accusation.[16]

In 2001, Orange County refused the park's tax exemption request.[17] In 2005, a judge ruled in favor of the park because of its mission of spreading the word of God which is not for profit and which therefore allows it to benefit from a tax exemption.[18] 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.[19][20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mark I. Pinsky, Orlando Holy Land, orlandosentinel.com, USA, January 11, 2001
  2. ^ George Thomas Kurian, Mark A. Lamport, Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States, Volume 5, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2016, p. 517
  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.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Holy Land Experience chief resigns 10 weeks into TBN takeover Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine – Carnegie Knight Foundation
  6. ^ Davis, James D. (2007). "Holyland theme park". Sun Sentinel. Tribune Company. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  7. ^ "Live Shows 2012". The Holy Land Experience. Archived from the original on 2014-12-25. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  8. ^ "Department of State". www.sunbiz.org. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  9. ^ Kennedy Wynne, Sharon (February 18, 2020). "Christian theme park Holy Land Experience will lay off 118 workers". Tampa bay.
  10. ^ "Breaking: Orlando's Holy Land Experience theme park sells to AdventHealth". WFTV. Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  11. ^ "AdventHealth purchases Holy Land Experience in $32 million sale". www.msn.com. Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  12. ^ Quentin J. Schultze, Robert Herbert Woods Jr., Understanding Evangelical Media: The Changing Face of Christian Communication, InterVarsity Press, USA, 2009, p. 162
  13. ^ "Seasonal Hours". The Holy Land Experience. Archived from the original on 2014-12-25. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  14. ^ "Holy Land Experience Park Map" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 February 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ Pressely, Sue (2001-02-28). "Holy Land Theme Park Opens the Gates to Controversy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  17. ^ Dennis Blank, Florida Religious Theme Park Fights for Property Tax Exemption, nytimes.com, USA, November 23, 2001
  18. ^ Tampa bay, Orlando Holy Land, tampabay.com, USA, August 25, 2005
  19. ^ "Holy Land Experience gains ground for growth: Small attraction buys adjacent office park". Orlando Business Journal. 2009-01-12. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  20. ^ Kassab, Beth (June 29, 2009). "Holy Land free day still a mystery". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-10-07.

External links[edit]