Orlando Theme Park Built for Jesus

Trinity also receives -- after a long battle that ended at the Florida legislature -- tax-free status for the park, saving it about $300,000 a year in property taxes. In exchange, the park has to open its turnstiles for free once a year; that usually happens on a Monday or Tuesday and there is a wait to get in after the park reaches its roughly 2,000-person capacity.

Park officials are wary of outside coverage. We were rushed through the attraction, prohibited from taking photos or video and given no chance to mingle with the guests. The Holy Land Experience also does little advertising -- you won't find its pamphlets in hotel lobbies -- relying instead on group bookings and mentions on the Trinity Broadcast Network.


The park isn't so much about the attractions but about finding new ways to connect with God and people who share in the same level of devotion.

Praying Together at Orlando Theme Park

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. Trinity analyzed the requests and found they fall into four groups: hope for salvation for loved ones, resolution of financial problems, help with marriage problems and prayers for well-being for their kids or family.

At the end of the day, all the prayers are spread out and everybody joins together and prays for those requests. (The slips of paper are also a way for Trinity to add people's addresses to their database.)

VIDEO: Walking The Jesus Trail

"I think most people go there because they are religious and are interested in seeing the park and learning more about their faith," said Matt Roseboom, publisher of Orlando Attractions Magazine. "But I think everyone would enjoy visiting the park at least once, regardless of their religious beliefs. They don't have any rides, but there is a lot to see and the grounds and gardens are beautiful."

The highlight of a visit for many is the Scriptorium, a 15-room exhibit that tells the story about how the Bible came into our hands today.

The park says the display includes authentic 5th century fragments from the book of Mathew, tributes to those who fought for religious freedom in the past and a manuscript from the year 350 A.D.

VIDEO: Two Florida teachers are removed from class over alleged use of holy water.
Teachers Reprimanded Over Holy Water

The tour through time culminates in a grand finale where visitors see God turn the Ten Commandments into stone and then hear a voice from above explain how humans have been unable to follow the laws.

"This is the only hope for mankind," the voice says as a giant cross hanging above is illuminated and guests are ushered into another gift shop.

There they can buy snow globes ($4.99), water bottles ($9), Holy Land Experience umbrellas ($10) or a 20-CD set of a dramatic Bible reading ($49.99).

And if you are looking for a gift for your kids, there is Bearnando, the Scribal Bear by Gund ($14.99.) The stuffed bear is dressed in a monk's outfit -- "My job is to carefully copy the words from the Bible to a new, fresh piece of parchment" -- and is made especially for the park.

The Holy Land Experience might not be for everybody, but for the devotee, it sure packs in a full day of activities and is a lot closer and cheaper than the real thing.

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