Monday was actually my birthday and we had already planned to go to The Holy Land Experience. On your birthday you get in free and get a free desert from their deli. Since my brother and his wife do some interpreting there, they were able to get us tickets to get in. Me getting in free for my birthday did not mean that much, but the pound cake with caramel and whipped cream sure was nice.
I have heard about the Holy Land Experience for some time from my brother and sister-in-law. I was very interested in going. One thing that I had not previously thought to consider was whether or not this attraction believed in Jesus as the Messiah or not. I was pleased to find that they do. They actually do quite a bit of evangelistic teaching while you are attending the different events within the park.
The other thing that I noticed was that it was very expensive. We got in free, but if we would have had to pay, my family would not have gone. Even after having such a positive experience there, I still cannot recommend that people pay the $35 per person to enter. It just is not worth that amount of money to me. I don’t know what the price was before TBN took over the park, but it is very commercialized and obviously a serious money making endeavor. Of course they are allowed to make money (I am not one of these Christians who believe you have to be poor to serve the Lord), but if I am going to make an investment in something, I want to get my money out of it, or completely believe in what they are doing.
When you first walk in you arrive at a traditional market area. To me this was not all that special since I have been in countries which still have their markets set up the same way. What was neat about this one is there was a man playing a drum while we were there. The kids got to hit the drum with him and they enjoyed that. He, as well as much of the stuff, was dressed in period dress.
One of the shows we attended was a presentation on the festival of Hanukkah. It was very entertaining and informative. It was a musical drama put on by a small group of actors. It did not go into great detail, and you would have had to understand some inter-testamental history to get the full meaning of what they were saying, but it was still informative. It was probably enough information that people felt like they learned something without being scared away.
Along those lines, I think it is better to think of the Holy Land Experience as an attraction and not a museum. I expected a museum with lectures and information. This was more of an attraction to entertain with hopes that there might be a bit of education in the process.
For me this was the best part of the “Experience.” The model is something like 40 foot long by 20 foot wide. It is a diorama of the city as it would have been in AD 66.
The man giving the tour of the city stood on the model and gave a 20 minute presentation of the different parts of the city. He also gave a description of the events the night Christ was arrested and crucified. After the tour of the city my older brother and I got a chance to talk with him alone and ask a few more questions. It turned out that he was the school administrator at the Christian school my sister-in-law attended.
The Scriptorium was the closest thing to a museum they had there. It housed several old Bibles and fragments. Like most other presentations at the Holy Land Experience this tour through the history of the Bible was a multi-media event. We were directed through the scriptorium on a 55 minute show which sometimes proved a bit frustrating.
We were directed into different rooms with a group of 10 or so people. There was never quite enough time to see all the books and displays before the lights were turned off in one room and we were pushed into the next. If you were not one of the first people in line, you may not get a chance to see all the Bibles. (Except for the room where John Bunyan was highlighted, we had too much time and not enough to look at). Some of the cases had lights that were out.
The most amazing thing about the Scriptorium was the final room where we were privilged to see some of the most amazing art I have ever seen. They had 4’X8′ oil paintings of some of the human authors of the Bible. I think there were 8 or 10 of these paintings. Not only were they well done but they seemed to be in line with my thinking of what these men would have looked like. David, for example, was painted as an average height man who looked physically strong as any rancher would be. John, however, was painted as an older, gaunt man who looked like he lived in exile alone.
There was a very nice presentation of what the wilderness Tabernacle might have been like as well as the furniture within. They also had an actor playing the part of the High Priest in his priestly garb.
There was a 1/3 scale representation of the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of Christ. This is known as Herod’s Temple. It was quite impressive.
There was a presentation that was supposed to be about the Temples of Israel, but the man did not talk much about the temples. That was a bit disappointing. If you didn’t know that there were 3 temples in Jerusalem then you would not have learned it from this show.
There were several other shows and displays throughout the day that we did not see. It would have take most of the day to have seen it all. We were only there 5 hours or so.
It was all well done though I feel it was a bit weak on real educational content. But, as I said before, it was too expensive. I know it was less than half the price of the larger theme parks, but it still seemed to be too much.