Hundreds flock to Holy Land Experience while long-shuttered attraction offers free admission

Attraction has been closed since March 2020

Hundreds flocked to Holy Land Experience on Wednesday as the long-shuttered religious theme park reopened for its first of two days offering free admission.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Hundreds flocked to Holy Land Experience on Wednesday as the long-shuttered religious theme park reopened for its first of two days offering free admission.

Gates opened at 10 a.m. with parking also being offered at no charge.

Luz Marina decided to bring her family to experience the attraction for the first time.

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“There’s a lot of people. There’s a big line and you see the cars coming in,” Marina said. “I always wanted to come, and I have high expectations of it.”

No official reason was given for the brief reopening, which is likely tax-related.

Holy Land Experience must offer at least one free admission day each year to maintain its tax-exempt status as a location that exhibits religious artifacts. State lawmakers granted the exemption in 2006.

Holy Land Experience closed in March 2020 as the pandemic hit. The last post on its Twitter account, announcing that closure, is dated March 14, 2020.

The park also announced more than 120 layoffs in February 2020.

“The change will refocus the park on its original plan and function,” Holy Land Experience general manager Mike Everett said in a statement prior to the layoffs. “The Scriptorium, which holds rare and unique biblical artifacts and a scale model of ancient Jerusalem and the City of David, will continue to serve as the park’s main educational attractions, and Live Church Orlando will maintain use of The Holy Land Experience’s facilities for their church services at The Church of All Nations theater.”

A representative for Holy Land said there are no plans to keep the park open after the two free admissions days “due to ongoing pandemic and economic concerns.”

Trinity Broadcasting Networks, which owns the park, had been considering selling Holy Land prior to the pandemic, but the company has not said whether it is still looking for a buyer.

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About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.