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Travel Logs April 2016

Amazing Peak Experiences

Holy Land Experience

By Rick Sheridan

The Holy Land Experience (HLE) offers a dramatic understanding of the history of Christianity and its impact on the world. Affectionately known as ABiblical Disneyland,@ the HLE has around 40 exhibits, along with museums, restaurants, gardens, a gift shop and other attractions.

If Easter passed this year without a chance to visit the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida, make a note it is a great place to visit any time of the year. Here visitors experience an astonishing theme park that is a re‑creation of ancient Jerusalem.

When I was there in 2011, I remember passing through the gates of the recreated walled city, and experiencing the sights and sounds of ancient Jerusalem. The structures and exhibits represent the architecture and style that existed in the Holy Land 2000 years ago. All of the sights and sounds provided me with an understanding of the various passages in the Bible.

Here is a basic description of several attractions you will experience:

  • Calvary’s Garden Tomb. A replica of the Garden Tomb where the body of Jesus was laid to rest.
  • Church of All Nations. A 2,000-seat facility that features live presentations and reenactments of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Live taping of Trinity Broadcasting Network’s flagship TV show “Praise the Lord” are also taped here, in addition to the historical reenactments, concerts, and church services.
  • Damascus Gate. Modeled after the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, it leads to the Jerusalem Street Market.
  • Dead Sea Qumran Caves. A replica of the desert caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
  • Jerusalem Street Market. A Middle Eastern marketplace, with street merchants who interact with guests.
  • Oasis Palms Café. A café with an authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere.
  • Prayer gardens. There are three different prayer gardens with a variety of beautiful sub‑tropical foliage for anyone in search of some quiet time for meditation and prayer.
  • Prayer options. Anyone can also join in various prayer groups through one of HLE’s many services held at different locations in the park. HLE has a staff of ordained ministers who are available to pray with you personally.
  • Temple Plaza. A six-story white and gold temple that was the center of Jerusalem’s religious life. It is visible from the Temple Plaza, and it hosts live musicals, presentations, and other events.
  • The Jesus Boat.  Here is a replica of a boat found in the Sea of Galilee that dates back to the time of Jesus.
  • The Judean Village. Outdoor vignette stage for dramas and musicals.
  • The Smile of a Child Adventure Land. Your grandchildren will enjoy this park that features exhibits and activities for kids, such as a rock‑climbing wall, craft center, toy store, and children’s theater.
  • Wilderness Tabernacle. A costumed high priest describes Israel’s ancient history.
  • Presentations by their Biblical archaeologists cover topics such as the Great Temple, the Garden Tomb, Qumran Caves, and the layout of the city of Jerusalem, and much more.


Besides the attractions, there are also some interesting exhibits:

  • Model of Jerusalem. This exhibit is smaller than many of the attractions. Visitors can check out the handcrafted figurines and model buildings that follow the steps that Jesus took from the Upper Room to Calvary, and the empty tomb.  There are regular historical presentations from staff lecturers.
  • The Scriptorium Museum. Features the Van Kampen Collection of biblically related artifacts including ancient scrolls, manuscripts, and early printed editions of the Bible, such as the Geneva and Gutenberg Bibles. The collection is the fourth largest of its kind, and transports visitors to various historical and regional areas of the world, and provides a better understanding of the Bible. The collection was founded in 1986 by Robert and Judith Van Kampen. In 1994 Robert Van Kampen established a privately funded research library and archive. In 2002, the collection relocated to Orlando, where it is on long‑term loan to the Holy Land Experience.

The HLE is owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) which had planned to build a broadcasting facility and a movie studio to produce Christian films. The park originally opened in 2001, and in 2007 the Holy Land Experience board of directors sold the property to TBN for an estimated $37 million. They renewed and updated the park soon after the purchase.


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