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Demolition begins on Orlando Holy Land Experience theme park

The Holy Land Experience theme Park in Orlando is being demolished after TBN invested more than $130 million in the project. AdventHealth purchased the property from TBN in 2021 for $32 million and submitted plans to build a hospital on the site

“We are thrilled to start the process of construction on the property,” said Kari Vargas, CEO of AdventHealth’s Northwest Market. “We look forward to providing a convenient option for area residents to access emergency care close to home and offering more services based on the healthcare needs of this community.”

Religion News Service reported in 2007 that TBN spent $37 million to acquire the Holy Land Experience. The purchase involved three financial transactions. TBN paid off an $8 million loan from Grace Foundation to Holy Land Ministries, spent $12 million to acquire land from Sola Scriptura and donated $17 million to Master’s Gate Foundation.

TBN promotional video for the park:

The Holy Land Experience became TBN co-founder Jan Crouch’s pet project, according to news reports.  She oversaw remodels and new exhibits as the theme park produced Broadway-style musicals. However, it later became a money pit and was subsidized by donations from TBN. The Covid pandemic added to its troubles. A review of the theme park’s financial disclosure documents shows that from 2007 to 2020, TBN made $96,764,685 in donations to Holy Land Experience Ministries, which included $28,530,154 in non-cash donations in 2010.

Over the years it had been praised for its state-of-the art exhibits, a scale model of Jerusalem at the time of Christ and musical productions. It regularly received high reviews from visitors. But being so close to secular, and much larger, attractions prevented it from gaining enough visitors.

The park has been abandoned for over a year, allowing it to be vandalized. Combined with storm damage, the park is only a shadow of its former glory. This spring a videographer illegally entered the park and recorded what he found. (Below).

Matthew Crouch became president of TBN in 2016, the year Jan Crouch died. In addition to discontinuing TBN’s annual Praise-A-Thon fundraisers, he made programming changes to appeal to a younger and more diverse TV audience. Today, TBN is known for excellent programming revolving around Israel and TV specials.

The Holy Land Experience joins numerous other theme parks that have closed or are planning to close soon. They include the 75-year-old Six Flags New Orleans, Northern California’s Cedar Fair Great Awakenings, and Cypress Gardens in Florida.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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