I Went to Jesus Land


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I Went to Jesus Land

When my cousin moved to Florida this fall, it was as though God had intervened to provide the perfect excuse for a picture-snapping session at The Holy Land Experience.
February 17, 2011, 7:00am

Twelve miles outside of Disney World there is a small Christian theme park called The Holy Land Experience. For 35 bucks a pop, fanny packers can take a stroll through Jerusalem circa 33 AD and meet all their favorite characters from the New Testament. I first heard about the park in the movie Religulous, and since then have been dying to see it in person. When my cousin moved to Florida this fall, it was as though God had intervened to provide the perfect excuse for a picture-snapping session at The Holy Land Experience. Here’s a quick breakdown of our day.

Walking into the parking lot we were immediately greeted by a series of animatronic Bible scenes. One of the best was a mechanical baby Jesus that writhed around in his manger. According to the Holy Land Experience’s website, we were to be welcomed by Jesus at the entrance to the park. We were expecting a robotic Savior or a human impersonator. Instead, what we found was a cardboard cutout of God’s only Son. This set the mood for the rest of the day.

During the histrionic reenactment of the last supper, my cousin and I laughed to the point of tears. I buried my face in my hands and played it off as uncontrollable sobbing. The woman next to me was actually crying and offered us tissues, but on our way out some old man scorned us and said that we “don’t believe in Christ.” On a related note, at lunch a Roman centurion approached us. He was aggressively passionate about his belief in Christianity and strongly urged us to become born again.

Later on we met Jesus, who was kind of a narcissist. He thoroughly enjoyed having His photo taken. My cousin and I were invited back to His home post-work for an exclusive photo shoot. When we went to Jesus’ house, He showed off His bachelor bedroom. He spoke of His love for animal decor, which was evident from His cheetah print bedding and framed lion poster. Jesus also seemed to be under the impression that my cousin and I were doing an undercover article about Him. During our visit He prefaced many sentences with “if somebody were to interview me.”

Before entering the park, visitors are welcomed by a plethora of
 biblical animatronics.

Come see the last supper. Ten times a day.

One of the few dining options at The Holy Land Experience.

Jesus in the flesh.

Guests can sing karaoke of their favorite religious hits in “The
Theater of Life.”

I have yet to come across a company that specializes in “self
-portrait cameras.”

Here is a detailed diorama of old Jerusalem and a rendering of the Western Wall.

In the gift shop Jesus encourages guests to purchase souvenirs.

The Holy Land Experience will transport your prayer notes to Israel, free of charge.

Visitors wait patiently to watch the passion play.

Jesus and an angel.

Jesus being scolded by a Roman centurion. Bad Jesus.

The actress in gray begs the Roman’s to have mercy on Jesus.

She seemed genuinely upset during the performance.

The crucifixion was well executed (pun intended). However, the crane's presence really took me out of Golgotha.

Jesus is resurrected from the dead. Dance party ensues.

The park contains an abundance of flat screen televisions.

During lunch a Roman centurion questions my cousin about her faith.

Jesus welcomes children to Noah’s Ark Theater.

Here is Jonah and a fish. The fish bears a striking resemblance to the Disney character "Nemo."

An octopus protects a mysterious orifice.

An employee ushers guests into the last supper.

Some freak drinks his coffee through a straw at the last supper.

Jesus directs some lost visitors.

Jesus showcasing His microphone headset.

Karaoke in “The Theater of Life.”

An authentic Jew.

Double rainbows are explained at The Holy Land Experience.

Another cardboard Jesus.

A visitor seeks Jesus' advice on adoption.

The second crucifixion of the day is held indoors (more musical numbers are added).

Some visitors are brought to tears by the realistic portrayal of Jesus’ crucifixion. Ha.

Later on Jesus invites us to his home. We still don’t know his
name and he seems very comfortable being called “Jesus.”

He has an affinity for animal print.

Jesus' pad is a real panty dropper.