According to previously published reports, the park would require from 150 to 200 acres with as much as half of the property being reserved for parking.
Besides looking at Rutherford County, there were reports as early as one year ago that the New York real estate and development company responsible for developing the theme park was looking for property in Tennessee and in other states although company officials said at the time they would prefer to locate in Tennessee.
Since the interested company is not religiously-based, the theme park, which would depict scenes and stories from the Bible, would not include "religious interpretation," said a spokesperson for the company last year when plans were displayed for a site in Rutherford County.
At the time she explained that the amusement park would be much like a "story park" and would include traditional rides that are found in amusement parks. She said it would emphasize the history of the Bible, as well as its archaeology, and plans to have a "Williamsburg type-working village" feel to it.
A principal with the theme park’s company explained in a presentation to officials in Murfreesboro that the park planned would show a "visual story of the Bible" independent of religion. Visitors, he said, would enter the park through the gates of Jericho leading to Jerusalem. A moat would connect the Dead Sea to the Sea of Galilee. A museum would highlight "The Bible — the Greatest Adventure." One anchor ride proposed for the park would allow visitors a simulated helicopter ride over Jerusalem.
"This will be an incredible experience for all ages," he said.
Assuming the plans disclosed for the site in Rutherford County would be the same or similar as for a location in Lebanon, the park would host an Agape Tent that would allow visitors to eat authentic Middle Eastern food; a Tree of Life would be featured in the Old Testament part of the park; in the story of Exodus, developers envision 25-foot high waves of water rising at each side with Moses standing in front of a large inferno to represent the burning bush; and Noah’s Ark would have a full-sized ark with a "Two by Two Theater Experience."
The New Testament section of the theme park, as planned for Rutherford County, was to feature a Sight and Sound Theater from Pennsylvania to act out stories from the Bible and a stone tablet wall inscribed with the New Testament.
The theme park proposal in Rutherford County generally got favorable responses from citizen groups, city and county officials and others before it was rejected by the Rutherford County Commission which became engulfed in a dispute among homeowners from the area in which the park was to be located.
Members of the Rutherford County Commission rejected a rezoning request in favor of the park by a vote of 12-9.
Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce President Steve Benefield said the park was another opportunity to diversify the economy and create new revenues for county government. He compared the park to King’s Island near Cincinnati, Six Flags Over Georgia or the Disney Parks in Orlando, Fla.
Other city and county officials echoed Benefield’s remarks saying that they believed the theme park in Rutherford County could have a positive economic impact in a number of areas including employment, tourism and business development.
Another project currently under way by the developers of the Bible theme park is a Hard Rock Park having a rock n’ roll theme and being built in Myrtle Beach, S.C. This park is to include over 40 attractions and cost more than $400 million.
For more information, go to www.bibleparkusa.com