The Bible-themed Holy Land Experience will end all its theatrical productions later this year, and its owners are open to the possibility of selling the property.
The changes were first reported by Ken Storey of Orlando Weekly on Jan. 7. The following day, the attraction’s owners, Trinity Broadcasting Company, issued a press release saying The Holy Land Experience will end all its stage shows on April 19, but would remain open.
“The change will refocus the park on its original plan and function,” Holy Land Experience general manager Mike Everett said in a statement. “The Scriptorium, which holds rare and unique biblical artifacts and a scale model of ancient Jerusalem and the City of David, will continue to serve as the park’s main educational attractions, and Live Church Orlando will maintain use of The Holy Land Experience’s facilities for their church services at The Church of All Nations theater.”
The theme park-like experience grew from that scale model, first put on display in 1997 by a Winter Garden group called Zion’s Hope, which says its “purpose is to proclaim to Jewish and Gentile people throughout the world their need for personal salvation through Jesus, the Messiah of Israel.”
When the larger park opened in 2001, it drew protests from the Jewish Defense League (labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group “that preaches a violent form of anti-Arab, Jewish nationalism”), which accused Zion’s Hope of trying to convert Jews to Christianity.
The Holy Land Experience was sold in 2007 to TBN, a non-profit Christian television network. The subsidiary responsible for running the park, Holy Land Experience Ministries Inc., has reported a net loss to the IRS every year from 2014 through 2017, the most recent year its tax filings have been made available.
In that time period, the total value of the park’s assets declined by nearly 25 percent, from $67.7 million to $51.1 million.
While TBN’s official statement said the Holy Land Experience would remain open, a sale of the park’s property at the intersection of I-4 and Conroy Road is on the table.
“There’s been a lot of development in the area,” TBN marketing director Nate Daniels told The Orlando Sentinel. “We own a significant part of land around the park, not just the park itself. There’s the possibility of selling a part of it and maintaining the actual park area.”
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