And lo, Matthew got a par three
Admittedly, the place wasn't quite finished: there was a crane on the roof, the elevator only went to the ninth floor (unpainted and windowless) and the air had the faint taste of concrete dust.
Maybe I'd just missed the part in the New Testament where Jesus and the disciples go ice-skating and play mini-golf. But the museum is, so far, Bible-free, with the exception of a video of Pastor Otoniel Font (a genial, chubby young man with slicked-back hair) explaining where in Genesis it mentions dinosaurs.
This part was necessary to give context to "Journey to Jurassic," a walk-through experience whose premise is that a newly discovered hollow volcanic seam has revealed a perfectly preserved prehistoric ecosystem deep below the earth's surface. A tour guide leads you past crap animatronic Triceratops and Brontosaurs who wave their heads jerkily from side to side like crack addicts. All is well until--oh, no! The T Rex has escaped! The tour guide and his lab-coated scientist buddy lead us to safety--or do they??
It's all good tongue-in-cheek fun, and of course the kids in the group loved it. But what made it especially charming was that the tour guide was played by an adorable and energetic dead ringer for Gael Garcia Bernal in The Science of Sleep. With that in mind, it was easy to believe that he really believed it--or maybe that the whole museum, and everyone in it, was in his head.
That would certainly explain the second-floor mini-golf attraction which, again, was tied into the greater scheme with a verse from Genesis:
Yep, this was Bible-based mini-golf with a neon underwater theme. It was actually pretty cool: everything was black except the playing areas, which were painted in bold fluorescent colors and lit with blacklight.
It was like being in a nightclub in the Eighties, except with more children and no cocaine.
And adding to the Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole weirdness (apart from the small boy, apparently connected to no-one, who kept trying to steal the pretty rocks) was the fact that the only thing preventing the people downstairs from being pelted with golf balls was the tenacity of the plastic cup at each hole. We realized this when we tried to play the 17th and discovered that the cup was missing, and that through the hole we could see people milling around the lobby directly below ...
The Museum of Bible History also has a small but well-designed aquarium (mostly displaying ugly catfish from various geographic regions) and an ice-rink, staffed by a doubtless underpaid young woman whose job is to herd everyone off the ice at the end of each session. Each time she turned her back to get one kid to the exit, another would sneak on, and comedy would ensue until the kid fell over. Repeat as necessary.
Once we'd completely finished getting our money's worth ($20 gives you all-inclusive access to the four main areas), we wandered across the parking lot to check out the church. It's bright, clean, filled with light. A smiling receptionist greets you. Tropical fish play in colorful tanks. There's a huge auditorium with slanted, plush, theater-style seating. A bookstore, a CD store, a cafe, classrooms. And a bulletin board showing photos from a recent party, in which everyone appeared to be dressed as Arabs. It was scary.