“Authentic Experience” and Manufactured Entertainment: Holy Land Experience Religious Theme Park
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Kozminski University
Publication date: 2017-12-30
Polish Sociological Review 2017;200(4):545-558
Holy Land Experience is a religious theme park in Orlando, Florida. The city is home to some of the main theme parks in the United States, however, Holy Land Experience is not a typical one, and in official flyers it claims not to be a theme park at all, its role being, instead, educational. Holy Land Experience is a plaster replica of Jerusalem from the times of Christ, spread on 15 acres of land. At the same time, it is an interesting example of promoting spirituality using tools attributed to entertainment. Inside the theme park Christianity is shown offering a direct, emotional experience using imitations of Biblical places and events. Indeed, according to the visitors, the overwhelming artificiality of the place does not thwart religious feeling. At Holy Land Experience spiritual experience is merged with entertainment and a sense of America’s uniqueness.
My research at Holy Land Experience was made possible thanks to the Kosciuszko Foundation’s scholarship.
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