Click on photos for larger view
There was no ticket or pamphlet; only a map and a cash register receipt
June 28th, 2010
We went the Holy Land Experience the fourth day of our trip. We had looked at things in the area...we didn't have enough time to do Disney or NASA and hadn't made arrangements for either so I decided to go to the Largest Flea Market on the East Coast! but alas, apparently, it's only open certain days/times. We wouldn't be able to do it on this trip as it wouldn't be open at all. We thought of going to Discovery Cove but it was super expensive and you really needed at minimum a long full day and reservations. We thought about Medieval Times but that was available here in VA and we plan to try that later this year, so we just went to the next thing on our list: The Holy Land Experience. I have huge suggestions for this place, but I don't think they'll listen to me... but I'll mention a few: Get rid of the cheesy statues and replace them with lifelike ones and ONLY do say "Noah's Ark" and perhaps a Crèche scene with extended street. Lose the plastic flowers and replace with real ones. Expand the market area and sell things like "Frankincense, Myrrh, maybe some oils, perhaps olivewood carved items, blessed water, perhaps candles with biblical sayings or photos of the Virgin Mary or Jesus, some cross Gold Jewelry, Videos, books, journals for writing/reflection, post cards, T-shirt acceptable but in limited quantity, Bibles, and keep the knick knacks to a minimum. I'd like to see REAL native stuff there.
As for the park itself, more seating, a more detailed information about the food there, the map is confusing and the timing of too many shows overlap forcing you to choose between one and another. Things like the fountain show shouldn't be a "choose that or a play" because the water runs continually and people will see it from all angles and see it "whenever" and it's not worthy of more than a minute or two of viewing. If you are going to have metal benches in the middle of Orlando in the middle of July; cover them with shade so that the people do not get burned! I got burns on the back of my legs... more people dressed up and interacting instead of just going to their play would be nice. Intermingle with the people and talk. Only Aaron did that... I'd love to see real animals like a small petting zoo with perhaps a donkey, sheep and a camel. That might be too expensive to maintain though.
The scriptorium is the best thing there, but I'd like to see more than Bibles. I think there should be some active acquisitions going on, to get actual artifacts from that era. Lamps, nails or small objects are EASY to get. Perhaps one or two REAL pieces of art by a famous artist or something carved. If too expensive, perhaps some replicas (just a couple) or things of importance could be made. I liked it a lot but it was mostly Bibles through the ages.
I'd love to have seen more about the persecution of Christians and more about their way of living during Biblical times. Mostly here, we felt we were being taught things that were not a part of current tradition and though had some historical relevance, were in the preachy tone.
It was pretty boring, supposed to take all day but we were so bored we left after two hours and it was cheesy looking in a lot of places. The best things: Parking was decent, it was quiet, the Scriptorium was well done/nice looking (except it took a LONG time and you were literally trapped in each room till the narrator was done-they only opened the next room's doors when the narrator finished), and the plays/actors did a good job I thought. I thought Women at the Well was funny and insightful but the transition to serious "church vibe" came and made some uncomfortable. Leave out the prayers in my opinion. I say, have another place where people can actually go and pray if they choose; like an ACTUAL church open for those who want. Many go here, of other religions or no religion at all out of curiosity. They think they're going to a museum. They quickly learn it's more preachy than that and a lot of people are turned off. In addition, some don't know about the body of Christ/Blood of Christ and the sacrament where we are given a cracker and grape juice is awesome to learn, but they are "expecting" people know what to do with it and when. Some I saw did not know and ate it immediately or dumped it out. TELL them in the pamphlet what they have in case of allergies and that they will be taking part in this practice. For example, I am Catholic and we were taught never to take the host unless we had first confessed or had not sinned. People here felt pressured to take it or keep holding onto it. Give people the choice. If the feeling/perceptions have changed, then tell people before the blessing starts. Speaking of that, I'd LOVE to have seen a FULL Last Supper! I mean ALL the apostles. And I'd of loved to have learned about Judas there and how they interacted with one another up to the blessing. On the bright side, I thought the guy playing "Jesus" going around to touch everyone was great; however some did not like that part. I thought it was lovely.
That's about it. The price was a bit expensive. I forget now but between 35-40 dollar a person, all of it goes to maintain the park/for the mission. Food is not plentiful and very limited (burgers I think and a few chips and other things) and prices are average for this type of place (as were the drinks). Drinks were like 3.75-4.00 but compared to Disney/Universal, that was a bargain. I think parking was free. Mostly what you are going to see here is the Scriptorium like I alluded to above, a big scale model of Jerusalem, a gift shop, and a few caves/rooms to go see plays. Woman at the Well is funny with Jesus singing at the end, Aaron teaches you about the old ways (kind of boring but realistic to what they did and the history is good to know), and a few other things we did not do because of the lines and being bored (we knew we'd already seen the best things and that was boring so...). The fountains "dance" but it's nothing spectacular and there's a resin boat that was made to replicate the one they found that was from the time of Jesus. Also meditation "gardens" (small) with benches to sit/reflect/pray. And statuary. Lots of statuary. There's a place for kids to go play which is nice. That's bout it. See my photos here:
Left to Right: 1) Holy Land Experience Sign 2) Holy Land Experience Entrance 3) Another closer view of the entrance 4) Entrance to the Market area (nothing there to do or buy; just flowers etc
Left to Right: 1) Coming in the gate; a pillar/small out building 2) Chariot at the gate 3) closer view of chariots 4) Inside the gate but outside the main entrance, there are statues/vignettes; this is one of the Wise Men
Left to Right: 1) Statues outside the gate of "Bethlehem Inn" keeper 2) Statues outside the gate of the Nativity Scene 3) Statues outside the gate/entrance Jesus, a Shepard and his flock of sheep 4) Noah's Ark statues outside the gate
Left to Right: 1) More Noah's Ark Statues 2) Inside the entrance, one of the first things you see is the dancing fountains 3) Jesus' Boat replica of an actual boat they found 4) Singing after the mini play "Woman at the Well".
Left to Right: 1) "Jesus" singing after the "Woman at the Well Play" 2) "The Woman at the Well" actresses. 3) Mountain with sheep on it 4) A closer view of two of the sheep
Left to Right: 1) Angel Statue on the grounds 2) More statuary on the grounds 3) A Roman soldier statue on the grounds near the Scriptorium I think 4) Ten Commandments Plaque on the grounds
Left to Right: 1) A Gazebo and more statuary on the grounds 2) The cave entrance to the Communion Service (Last Supper) 3) A tomb (nothing in there; not sure if this was supposed to be Lazarus' tomb or Jesus' etc. Forget what tomb it was or it just an example of a tomb 4) Temple replica (more like a facade; I don't think you can go in it
Left to Right: 1) Acacia Tree, Pillars and entrance to the Children's play area 2) Place to eat 3) Long view of the Scriptorium/road to it and actors walking along dressed in garb.4) Closer view of road to Scriptorium/grounds
Left to Right: 1) Closer view of the Scriptorium and a Roman soldier 2) Closer view of the Scriptorium (we were not allowed to take photos inside 3) Site where we entered the area to watch Aaron teach us about the old Rites and Rituals 4) A small segment of the Jerusalem model
Left to Right: 1) All four photos are of the Jerusalem model and not all is depicted
Left to Right: 1) Four more photos of the Jerusalem model showing various sections
Left to Right: 1) Close view of the center of the Holy Land Experience. It's like a small amphitheatre with some benches for some story-telling and a stage but it's the facade of a temple 3) top view of the facade.
Left to Right: 1) Roman Soldier statuary in the park
That's pretty much it. We were kind of bored, thought it was lackluster, thought it a bit preachy and was not self-explanatory enough. Unless they modified this greatly, I would not go back.
Sites other than Disney you might like to visit:
Orlando Airport NEW