Where does the good go

The happiest place on heaven and earth

Once, in what seems now like a lifetime ago, someone told me that I was trying to give myself the childhood I never had. If I recall correctly, it wasn’t intended as a flattering assessment; but who knows if I recall correctly, I am old and feeble minded. However, on this particular occasion, that description of my Orlando trip is as apt as any I could provide on this rainy Monday morning.

I know nothing about Orlando.

Frankly, the entirety of Florida frightens me, but Disney World?

Disney World was the holy grail of young Dawn Summers’ aspirations. There was getting adopted by Diana Ross, then go to Disney World. There was marrying Michael Jackson, then go to Disney World. There was crime fighting with the A-team and then… yadayada Disney World.

And it wasn’t just the ubiquitous television commercials, though I suppose they had their affect. When I was 7 or 8, we took a camp field trip to Coney Island. After intense soul searching and displaying unspeakable bravery, I managed to go on the Cyclone — the amusement park’s signature deathtrap. I was SO proud of myself.


“The Cyclone is nothing compared to Space Mountain. That’s a real roller coaster. Have you ever been to Space Mountain, Dawn?” asks this really annoying girl in my unit. I can picture her stupid face, but I can’t remember her stupid name.


“Yeah, I went to Disneyworld last year for Christmas. Space Mountain was really scary! Much better than the Cyclone.”


“Disneyworld is for babies.” I replied. “Did you take pictures with Mickey Mouse?” I walked away before she could answer. Because frankly, a picture with Mickey Mouse WOULD. BE. AWESOME!!!


When my mom picked me up from the babysitter’s house, I had a singular focus: “Can we go to Disney World? I have to go on Space Mountain…um…for school?”

I don’t remember what my mother answered, but I do know that for the next year, whenever anyone anywhere asked me what I wanted, the answer was “go to Disney World.”

Finally, my mother relented and said “if you get all Excellents on your report card, we’ll go.”

Pfft. Easy. So I got ALL Excellents on my fifth grade report card, dropped it triumphantly on the kitchen table and was all “Soooo… Disneyworld, here I come!”

AND THEN THIS WOMAN SAYS “We already went to Disney World.”

What the what?

She then proceeds to explain about how she and my godmother and godsister already went to Disney World and it was too crowded and I didn’t like it.


Um…when was this?

“I dunno, a few years ago. Or more. You were young, like four.”

Again: O_o

“And, yet you’ve never mentioned this. And I don’t remember this AT. ALL.”

“You were young.”

Have I mentioned: O_o

Anyway, so apparently, I wasn’t going to Disney World. So, we went to Coney Island. I got to ride the Cyclone. I wrote all this down in my letter to Diana Ross explaining that my adoption needed to be sped the hell up!


So, now you can understand how vulnerable I was to a voice on the phone promising me Disney World FOR FREE! Er… I mean Orlando.

As I made all the arrangments for the Orlando trip, I discovered that Disney World was many many parks. And they all cost A BILLION DOLLARS. Sadly, I discovered that Captain EO and Space Mountain were not in the same one either. #Cry

And the Harry Potter park was not in Disney World AT ALL. #DoubleCry

I chose Space Mountain. Because FUCK THAT STUPID FACE GIRL, AMIRITE?

But since I was going with my senior citizen mother, I figured I should also do something she would like. Do you know what my mother likes? Jesus.

So it was, that my first day in Orlando involved going to the Holyland… Experience.

I encourage you to google “Holyland Experience.” Hopefully, you will come across some of the awesome reviews I read

“It was like being in Israel”!

“Our leader looked like a Jew, but he seemed to have good command of Jesus, so I wasn’t too turned off.”

I am a very good daughter.

We got to the Holyland… experience and the guy at the intake desk, who was wearing a gold toga, explained that if we hurried we could make it for the “Greatest Story Ever Told” show and then tour the grounds afterward. My mother didn’t want to rush, so she bought us a two day pass. (I gathered they didn’t sell very many of these because the intake guy was like “really? for both of you?)

I too, was thinking “really? for both of us?”

We did hurry to make the show though, because there was only one scheduled — always at five pm, and I had plans to be at the Harry Potter… experience at 5 pm the next day.

We arrived at the theater and it was HUGE. AND FULL. Recording was not allowed in the theater. This set off alarm bells. I don’t trust anything anyone doesn’t want me to show the internets. We took seats in the second row.

The show began with actors walking through the aisles selling traditional Middle Eastern fare. Then cut to young Joseph and Mary hanging out before “the guys” sweep him away for his bachelor party. Mary wanders around the makeshift market for a while until the arch angel appears before her and tells her about God’s plans for her uterus.
She’s all “me? But I’m just a humble virgin girl.” (Direct quote) They show the holy spirit doing its business (lights and effects) and then a pregnant Mary is walking with Joseph to the stable. They have actors in animal suits walking around simulating “stable.” They then show Mary singing songs to the baby Jesus and then fast forward to John the Baptist telling everyone to get baptized AND THEN THE BIG REVEAL: Adult Jesus descends from the ceiling and asks John to baptize him. (THE AUDIENCE GOES NUTS! Applause and “yes, Jesuses” reverberate through the auditorium.

John is all “no, you are the King of Kings, you should baptize me!” And Jesus is all “no, no you baptize ME” And then adult Jesus gets into A REAL fountain that they’ve rigged to the rafters and emerges from the water, spraying the audience with water as he flings his long, wet mane back into place… like the white lady with the braids in that movie the perfect ten.

(Audience members raise their arms as the water flicks down on them. You can tell the repeat attendees because they have taken prime dousing seats! I did not get wet.)

Now adult Jesus walks through the audience performing miracles. (Like for real real. I guess the VIP members write their ailments on paper before the show and Jesus picks certain ones out because he’s walking through saying “Sarah Martin from MT Holyoke? Rise and be healed of your ulceritis!” “John Mackly from Miami, RISE and walk to me (at which point, the health aide helps this dude out of his wheelchair and he takes a few halting steps toward Jesus.” The crowd gasps and then applauds. I desperately try not to laugh. Although, by this point, I’m closer to horrified than amusement.)

Then comes the betrayal and people are booing Judas — OH but TWIST! The play decides to make the devil a real character. (Like there’s a dude dressed all in black with a goatee. He has harpies and black smoke with him. TIS HE who moves Judas to betray Jesus and pushes Pontius to convict. THE DEVIL WAS THERE! (This will be important to remember for later.) So they crucify Jesus (stage COVERED in blood, whipping, hammering THE WHOLE DEAL, SUCK IT MEL GIBSON!)

Then, there’s a break in the action when the centurion who did the nailing, is all repentant like and he has a whole monologue and then repudiates his previous beliefs and accepts Jesus into his heart and then he invites the audience to stand and repeat the “acceptance of Jesus” prayer with him. And people stand.

I do not stand. Or repeat the Jesus acceptance prayer. THEN, the Centurion leaves and the stage is NOW set up like Thunderdome and Jesus is back, but he’s ALL in white and he’s there TO FIGHT THE DEVIL AND THE HARPIES! LIKE GLADIATOR STYLE! SO JESUS AND THE DEVIL FIGHT! AND IT’S AWESOME! Jesus falls to the floor and the Devil goes to do that flying jump elbow to the throat off the ropes move, but Jesus rolls away and the Devil hits the floor. Then Jesus takes the devil in the headlock and the arch angel Gabriel counts down from ten! AND THEEEEE WINNNER IISSSSSS “JEEESSSSUUSSSS” And the bell rings and Jesus comes back to life and then he ascends to heaven and you see the thief who was crucified next to him and Jesus rides up on a unicorn. (I AM NOT EVEN MAKING THIS UP! Believe me, I WISH I HAD THOUGHT OF ANY OF THIS!!)

So then Jesus gives his big speech about the Book of Life and he writes in the names of his friends (like Mary the prostitute (that’s what he says) and “the centurion” (again this is what he says) and then he turns to the audience and says “will I write your name next?”

And people start standing and saying “yes lord, yes lord!”

So then Jesus calls those who wish to be written into the book to come to him on stage. My mother is all whispering “gooo” and motioning with her hands to me and I’m all “ARE YOU NUTS, WOMAN?” But with my eyes.

Then they let us out and we walked around the grounds. Mind you, we had tickets TO RETURN AGAIN THE NEXT DAY!!!!!

There were many displays featuring the Holy Family manger scene.

And Jesus doing stuff scenes.

They recreate the tomb where Jesus was laid to rest, including a roll-a-way boulder:

The next day, we made it back to “have communion with Jesus.” You walk into the supper setting and Jesus appears (wearing a headset) and narrates the last supper while the audience partakes of the life and the blood. (No pictures were allowed.)

Afterwards, people knelt before him and he laid his hands on them. Interestingly, it was a totes different Jesus than the one from the Greatest Story Ever Told. None of these Jesuses were black. After whispering this observation and announcing that I was going to ask that question, my mother took me out of the last supper, forcibly by the hand. RAY-CES.


My mother went around to see more “artifacts of Jesus,” I went to buy an ice cream cone. As all women did in the olden days.

OH AND THERE WAS AN ARK. And an entire mini Jerusalem, which was proclaimed to be “accurate in every detail and to scale.” So… you know, crossing “go to Jerusalem” right off the bucket list.

All of this hobnobbing with Jesus lasted way into the afternoon and I decided Harry Potter would be too crowded at that point on a Saturday. (We had gotten a late start for our return to the Holyland…Experience because that morning I had my timeshare presentation, the subject of PART TWO!)

Stay tuned for our thrilling conclusion!

14 Responses to “The happiest place on heaven and earth”

  1. Grange95 Says:

    Can’t wait for the Disney animated “Holyland” movie. The Virgin Mary can be the next Disney Princess. A white, blonde princess of course, because the Middle East used to be inhabited by Scandinavians, before they decided they liked skiing.

  2. Astin Says:

    Aw man, you went to the Holyland Experience?? Lucky! All I did was all the Disney Parks and Harry Potter when I was in Orlando!

  3. Dawn Summers Says:


  4. Astin Says:

    No, that’s Seussland, which you walk through on the WAY to Harry Potter World.

  5. Pdov Says:

    I have no words. None. I get believing in Jesus, I just don’t get reacting to an actor playing Jesus. Again, no words.

  6. Dawn Summers Says:

    THAT’S *EXACTLY* what I told Alceste when I got back!!

  7. Astin Says:

    Are the actor-Jesii priests or something? Some position that confers authority or knowledge? I mean, sure, Jesus stated that he didn’t perform miracles, it was the faith of those that were healed that was the cause. Or God through him. Or something.

    Can you buy wands at the Holyland experience?

  8. sharkgrl Says:

    This is the best thing I ever read. HOWEVER, I am saddened by your adherence to the laws of “no cameras”. This, my friend, was a rule made to be broken.

  9. M Says:

    Space Mountain is evil. And that has nothing to do with the fact that in my feeble-minded youth I mixed up Space Mountain and the ride through the future in the big Epcot ball. Expecting a leisurely trip through the future and being thrust into manic darkness… not fun.

  10. Dawn Summers Says:

    Sigh. If you had been in my summer camp unit, my whole life might have been different.

  11. April Says:

    I also have no words, other than to say I am thoroughly enjoying these posts.

  12. Michael Bates Says:

    I can hardly wait for the Dawn Summers Timeshare Presentation Experience.

    Considering that Paul and Jan Crouch (the lady with the cotton candy hair and 6″ eyelashes) run the Holy Land Experience, I wouldn’t have been shocked if they tried to sell you a heavenly timeshare.

  13. Michael Bates Says:

    And Pdov, I concur.

  14. Dawn Summers Says:

    Jan Crouch showed up at the end of the Greatest Story ever told, she was soooo plastic surgeried looking with a weird leathery tan coloring. The way she waved at the crowd — ugh creep town.

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