Holy Land Experience theme park: Crucifixion, even on Christmas

The new Noah’s Ark theme park planned in Kentucky may be making headlines these days, but it’s not the only U.S. park with a religious theme.

Central figures on the Orlando, Florida, theme park scene include Mickey Mouse, Shamu, Harry Potter, and Jesus Christ.

Just a few miles from Hogwart’s Castle at Universal Orlando Resort lies the Holy Land Experience, a 15-acre theme park firmly rooted in Christianity, at least the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s brand.

But the entertainment here doesn’t come from thrill rides, it comes from shows based on Bible stories, including live re-enactments of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, twice daily, even on Christmas.

Bill Briggs has an interesting look at the park – and its controversial history – today on MSNBC.com. The park opened in 2001 by fundamentalist Rev. Marvin Rosenthal, who intended it as a place to convert Jews to Christianity. It changed hands numerous times and was eventually taken over by Christian TV network TBN in 2007.

Briggs reports that park officials say it is now filled to its 2,000-guest capacity nearly every day and operates in the black. It’s popularity has prompted TBN to begin exploring the idea of opening licensing a second Holy Land Experience theme park in Seoul, South Korea.