O, come all ye faithful. The latest must-see Florida attraction to compete for your tourist dollars is The Holy Land Experience. It is comfortably situated in the Greater Orlando-Kissimmee theme park district chock-a-block with hotels and “family dining” style restaurants. Owned by mega-giant Christian broadcasting network TBN (the T is for Trinity), this biblical theme park features a recreation of the Garden of Eden, wax figures depicting the Resurrection, and a LIVE dramatization of the Crucifixion (performed daily at 4 p.m. sharp).
Hungry for manna? Steaming foot-long hotdogs are available at Simeon’s Corner café, while Chik-Fil-A appears on the menu of several other on-site dining areas.
If someone had told me this was the plot of a Carl Hiaassen book, I would have raced to the bookstore, no questions asked.
Make no mistake, there’s Judaeo in the Judaeo-Christian design of Holy Land Experience. At the Shofar Shop (Hebrew for the ram’s horn that will be blown on Judgment Day) you can buy faith-based souvenirs and trinkets including a silver Ten Commandments bracelet ($16.99 plus tax).
These chatchkes are made in China, in case you wondered. Wander through a Jerusalem Street Market.
Reflect on the meaning of it all while sitting on a bench or temple pew at one of seven areas created for, well, sitting and reflecting.
Here are some FAQs for those of you who have done Branson to death…
Q: Will there be smiting?
A: That is our MOST frequently asked question! Smiting and Public Shaming are held in the Leviticus Pavilion.
Q: Will they use nails in the crucifixion or will they use dowels, the way it was actually done in Jesus’ time?
A: Nails, I think. Or dowels. You were showing off your Biblical trivia knowledge, weren’t you?
Q: Are there actual rides, like camels and elephants?
A: Camels stink in the summer in Florida. I doubt they’ll want to mess with camels.
Q: Are they hiring?
A: This would be a swell summer job for kids from Bob Jones University or other wholesome teens who have no interest in sex and would not go wild as soon as they were on their own!
Q: But you plan to go, right?
A: Not unless I am generously paid to do an ironic travel piece.
Oh just go on, look it up for yourselves: HolyLandExperience.com