This past summer, we were in LaGrange, Georgia – we got there later in the day than we meant to (we were planning to take the boys to Wild Animal Safari) so we only had time to go to a place we’d only gotten the sketchiest details about: the Explorations in Antiquity Center.
Well, now that I’ve been, I’m still not too sure what to say about it.
I knew it was a place where they were trying to recreate some of the scenes from the Bible, and since Av’s been to Israel ten or eleven times and I’ve been there three times, I figured it would be something we could get ‘into’.
And I also thought it might be something like a Biblical theme park, where you walk on a path and can visit different ‘scenes’ at your liking, etc.
But it wasn’t really like that so much.
We paid our admission and were immediately asked if we knew who Dr. Fleming, the gentleman who started EiA, was (no), they acted surprised, and then we were strongly suggested to join a group to go through the exhibits.
One of the more interesting things was that they offer a ‘Biblical Meal’ for $30pp as “an example of First Century culture” which sounds interesting – what were people typically eating in the years 0-99CE? Turns out, it’s “15 different food items, including soup, salad, main course, dessert and all beverages (grape juice, water, or wine).”
I wasn’t really expecting spit-roasted whole kid goat but I guess I thought it was cute that it this ancient experience came with 21-century trappings like soup, salad, and dessert. Dining area:
Outside was the Biblical garden area, which seemed smaller than somehow expected, but included an “Israelite House” and “City Gate Judgment Chambers” and “Tomb Replicas” etc.
Image used courtesy Old Shoe Woman under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. Thank you!
Lots of pics of it on Flickr.
There’s more than just the Holy Land Experience in Orlando though.
Holy Land USA in Bedford, Virginia (was closed last year, but now reopened)
Bible Park USA, not yet built but planned for the Nashville area
Fields of the Wood in Murphy NC
Cabazon Dinosaurs in Cabazon CA with museum disputing Evolution
(not so much a park, but…) Christ of the Ozarks with The Great Passion Play in Arkansas; similarly, Sight and Sound Theatre in Strasburg PA and Branson MO
Creation Museum in Petersburg KY: “The museum’s striking exhibits demonstrate to guests that the Bible is the “true history book of the universe” as they take a time journey through a visual presentation of the “Seven C’s of History” according to Scripture: Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross and Consummation.” Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola is closed now and was not as high-tech, but carried a similar message.
The structure’s religious theme — drawn from Christian, Jewish and Islamic culture — has stirred admiration and ambivalence among the city’s mostly Taoist and Buddhist population. It is 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high: the ark’s builder and the city’s biggest developer, Sun Hung Kai Properties Co., claims it’s the first in the world built to measurements in the Bible.
The most popular interactive displays include video games that score players on how quickly they feed animals in the ark and an animated show explaining how ventilation worked in the vessel and how its proportion compared favorably in terms of ocean-worthiness to the largest and most-prestigious ships of the day, such as Queen Mary 2.
Visitors delighted in a Cantonese-speaking Noah and the knowledge that the Chinese character for ship is a pictogram of a vessel with eight persons. According to the Bible, Noah boarded the ark with seven other people, including his wife.
China may have its first religious theme park soon, called Harmony World. There’s a PDF of the intro booklet here. On page six: “From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation, the Bible is a truthful record of earthshaking moments. From the perfect harmony at the beginning of history, going through to the Great Flood and crossing the Red Sea to receive the Ten Commandments, the Park leads you into a marvelous journey through all the rise and fall in history with special 3D effects.” and “Unfolding Jesus’ 33 years on earth according to the Bible, encounter the Prince of Peace by witnessing His miraculous deeds such as changing water into wine and calming the stormy sea, and His powerful teachings that live through the ages. Through various scenic installations, virtual reality set-ups and creative performances, you will stand in awe in the presence of the heavenly kingdom.”
Image used courtesy Lep under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic. Thank you!
Tierra Santa in Buenos Aires
The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem has many animals mentioned in the Bible, including some that have become extinct in Israel. Would **love** to see the Noah’s Ark Sculpture Park there (wow), with art by Niki de Saint Phalle. The children’s zoo in Central Park in NYC is also named in the Tisch’s honor.
Kings City in Eilat,with another description here
…and that’s only a *few* of the ones all over the world. Most of the ones (outside Israel) I found were geared towards Christians, but I wonder what other ‘theme parks’ are out there for other religions…