Seth Udinski, FISM News
A biblical-themed amusement park in Orlando, Florida has closed its doors for the final time after 20 years of existence.
The Holy Land Experience, a 14-acre amusement park based on the Bible, was shut down on August 2, according to a report by Christianity Today. The park had a variety of attractions based on biblical accounts such as the resurrection of Jesus and a model replica of ancient Jerusalem. It also featured attractions based on figures of church history such as the medieval theologian John Wycliffe and the famous Pilgrim’s Progress author John Bunyan. It also had its share of “trivial” attractions, such as the “Trin-i-tee” miniature golf course. It was sold for $32 million to a Seventh-day Adventist health sharing organization, and according to reports, the park’s new owners have no intention of keeping it open.
The park was originally founded by Baptist pastor Marvin Rosenthal. Rosenthal was raised Jewish and trusted in Christ in his adolescence. Almost immediately after he founded the park, it was embroiled in public relations problems, including tax issues. The park was then sold to Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) in 2007, prolonging its life and generating several profitable years before hitting more financial turbulence. Revenue steadily decreased throughout the second decade of the 21st century, and the park simply could not survive the lockdowns from the pandemic in 2020.
It is a difficult challenge to tactfully combine this kind of public entertainment with biblical Christianity without losing the weightiness of scripture or appearing overly “hokey.” Perhaps it is a great accomplishment that the Holy Land Experience lasted as long as it did, and hopefully, many people were drawn to Christ from their experience at the park.