Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Stacy Holman Jones, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eric Eisenberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Navita James, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Belgrad, Ph.D.


tourism, pilgrimage, heritage, sacred, faith


This manuscript focuses on performances of place and faith inside the Holy Land Experience (HLE), an edutainment complex nestled in the fantasy nexus of Orlando, Florida. A self-proclaimed living-history museum, the HLE includes animatronic Bible characters and musical dramas. The HLE enacts and embodies evangelical narratives of Christianity and Christian faith, and visitors to the park are asked to join the performances, blurring the distinctions between spectators and professional actors. I argue that visitors' performances of faith invest the space of the HLE with sacredness, while the location and design of the HLE infuses the space with elements of the secular. The HLE exemplifies the performative nature of the sacred and shows how sacredness is a process (a performance), not an inherent property. Through participant observation, interviews, and critical/cultural analysis, I engage the multiple meanings of the HLE with the intention of facilitating empathic understandings of the complex, embodied phenomenon of faith as it manifests in this hybrid space.