Ever wish you could see the Passion of Christ in real life, with a bloodied, shackled Jesus? Dream of high-fiving Jonah inside a whale's large intestine? Lucky you: America's foremost Biblical amusement park is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
Orlando, Florida's 15-acre Holy Land Experience turns ten this year, which has prompted some entertaining news coverage. Apparently a Christian broadcasting network bought Holy Land from a Baptist minister for $37 million three years ago. (The promo ad from their website is above.)
ABC News describes some of the experiences offered at this profit-making Jesus park that doesn't pay property taxes thanks to a sweetheart deal with the state of Florida:
Here in America's theme park capital, guests are treated to 10 daily recreations of the Last Supper, a chance to mingle with Roman soldiers, and every day at noon and again at 5 p.m., Jesus is shackled in chains and whipped, before being dragged, bloodily, through the streets of old Jerusalem.
There's a children's area with a rock climbing wall, a theater dedicated to Noah and his ark and a spot where kids can walk into a stinky whale's mouth and see a trapped Jonah. There's even a spot where you can pose for a photo of you walking on water with Jesus.
Holy Land Experience appears to take its entertainment cues from Colonial Williamsburg, crucifixion snuff films, and holy simulacra. They have to-scale models of various holy sites, including their own Wailing Wall:
Each day, guests fill out little slips of paper with various requests for prayers or for salvation—60,000 to 100,000 a year are completed.
Unless you show up on the one day a year when admission is free—the one concession the park made in exchange for not paying property taxes—visiting Holy Land Experience costs $35, or $50 for a special two-day pass. [ABC, Holy Land Experience]