Holy Land Experience
Step through the pillared entry of Holy Land Experience (HLE) and see what it was like to live in ancient Israel when Jesus was alive, some 2000 years ago. Tombs, temples and even the Garden of Eden are carefully recreated to bring Bible stories to life. This 15-acre (six-hectare) theme park, owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, is 10 minutes’ drive from downtown Orlando.
The highly detailed Model of Jerusalem is a popular exhibit. This is a great view of what the city might have looked in the year 66, just a few years before the Romans destroyed it. Listen to one of the 25-minute presentations given throughout the day. A biblical scholar will relate bible stories and information about the city and Jesus’ life.
Wander through the Jerusalem Street Market, a replica of a Middle Eastern shopping arcade as it may have looked thousands of years ago. Here you can see a reenactment of Jesus carrying the cross to Calvary. Such dramatic representations and street theater are staged regularly throughout HLE, which has its own cast of performers called Century.
Visit the Church of All Nations for indoor shows ranging from 15 minutes to over an hour. These productions focus on stories and characters from the Bible. The church is a 2,000-seat auditorium with ornate gold detailing on the outside. Also decorated in gold is The Great Temple, which is meant to represent the ancient Jewish temple that stood on Mount Moriah.
For some quiet time, head to one of the three prayer gardens, including a replica of the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus went to pray the night before he was crucified. Smile of a Child Adventure Land includes a kid-sized rock-climbing wall and fun activities like face painting and craft sessions.
The whole family will enjoy the Crystal Living Waters nightly fountain and light show held at the Reflecting Pool. There’s also a library and archaeological dig to explore. For refreshment, the Oasis Palm’s Cafe offers Middle Eastern-style food, and also hamburgers and hot dogs.
HLE is open every day except Sunday, Monday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. Parking is free, however, the spaces do fill quickly so it’s best to arrive early. You could spend three to four hours inside HLE, but longer if you want to see all the shows. The attraction does get busy, however, it tends to be less crowded than some of the other Orlando theme parks.