The Holy Land Experience, By Annabel Wharton

1685 Words7 Pages
The Holy Land Experience is a theme park located in Orlando, Florida that claims to be a biblical museum in which an authentic recreation of ancient Jerusalem is visited. The park’s numerous exhibitions attempt to illustrate the architecture and landscape that existed in the city of Jerusalem during the life of Jesus, almost 2000 years ago. These exhibits take form as duplicated biblical sites, including The Wilderness Tabernacle, Calvary’s Garden Tomb, The Byzantine Cardo and The Temple of the Great King. According to Annabel Wharton in her chapter “Spectacularized Jerusalem: Imperialism, Globalization, and the Holy Land as Theme Park”, the Holy Land Experience bears greater similitude to a theme park whose sole purpose is to serve as a source…show more content…
Wharton uses The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, an archetypal religious shrine and perhaps the most sacred site for many Christians, as having a list of certain criteria that are not present in The Holy Land Experience. For one, the Holy Sepulchre is a site meant for pilgrims pursuing peace or reclamation whereas a theme park such as Disneyland is created for and profits from tourists seeking temporary gratification. Whereas the Holy Sepulchre is communal and offers free admission, a theme park is controlled by a business enterprise and is exclusive to those who can afford its entrance fee. Moreover, a theme park is meticulously cleansed to ensure it bears no marks of those who have previously visited; the Holy Sepulchre is run down and soiled for the pilgrim’s veneration. The Holy Land Experience is an enclosed space that is centered around biblical sites whereas the Holy Sepulchre’s collection of shrines are randomly scattered. Wharton’s use of these distinctions are done to validate her claim that the park “looks and acts more like a theme park than a shrine” (193). Considering Wharton’s remarks on what comprises a theme park and what embodies a shrine, there is a clear dichotomy in the types of…show more content…
While The Holy Land Experience endeavoured to rid away the debris and scars marked upon the city, Storrs sought to preserve the historical detritus, which gave Jerusalem its primeval aura. While The Holy Land Experience had a predisposition as it was specifically founded by and directed for Christians of the Evangelical Protestant community, Storrs was less interested in the religious politics and more engrossed in re-creating the authenticity of Jerusalem that was realized in the time of Jesus Christ. Though both parties were interested in re-creating the ancient city of Jerusalem, they went about it with completely different mindsets and to compare the two is not sound. As Wharton explains, “on display in the building next to the Temple is a somewhat smaller version of the Holy Land Hotel model of Jerusalem” (225). The insertion of this factually precise model in the theme park emphasizes the idea that the creators of the park were not interested in constructing a complete relic, replica or even reproduction of the city, and likely included it to allow visitors to imagine the Jerusalem that is present in the

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