Religion Magazine

Mickey Mouse is Making Aliyah Under the Law of Return

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
Various news sources are reporting that a "Disneyland-like theme park" is being designed and built in Southern Israel. The project is currently, supposedly, in advanced stages.
The theme park will be near Dimona, will be similar in layout to Disney's Magic Kingdom in Florida and will have Israeli and Jewish themed attractions and rides.
From JPost:
Plans for the park are already drawn up, designed by the same company that planned Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Malul said.
In its initial stage, the park will sit on some 25 hectares (60 acres) of land at the entrance to Dimona and will include five “worlds,” each with four or five rides. The “worlds” will be called Oasis, World of Spirits, World of the Jewish Nation, World of Society and the World of Time.
“The park will have the same rides and the same layout [as Disney World] but with content,” Malul explained. “It will be 90% fun and 10% content.”
Disney’s popular Splash Mountain ride, for example, will be modified to include a theme of six work days, and a “calm zone” after a drop that signifies the day of rest.
Malul stressed, however, that the park will have nothing to do with Bible stories or mitzvot, but rather is supposed to reflect “life and what surrounds us with values that are not only Jewish but universal.”
Additionally, instead of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, the park aims to create and develop alternative characters that will become the “cultural heroes of tomorrow.”
The idea for the park was brought forward by Rabbi Eli Taragin, a New Jersey native who would visit Disney World as a child with his grandparents in Florida and who dreamed of bringing that experience to Israel.
A private investor has already put some $1.5 million into the project over the course of the past three years.
Malul said that there are private investors lined up to fund the estimated $400m. project once it receives the necessary permits, a process that will take a couple of years.
“We are developing the whole area to actually build a new destination that deals with entertainment and fun,” she said. “This is going to be a very big game-changer for the whole country – it will become an international destination.”
The theme park is just the tip of the iceberg. She explained that surrounding it will be outlet malls, hotels and other major attractions, sitting on a total of 100 hectares of land.
“We need to start to look ahead to the future and connect to the next generation in their language,” Malul said.

The Forward adds:
Sixteen Jewish-themed rides are planned for the park, including a “Splash Mountain” that replaces the Colorado Mountains with 50-story high biblical imagery. With over $400 million in foreign investment behind it, the park will be part of a planned complex of over 4,000 acres. Two Rabbis are participating in the planning and design of the park.
Benny Biton, the mayor of Dimona, a city that struggles economically, is looking forward to the boost the park will provide, indicating it will put Dimona on the map. The park will make the area a tourist destination, hopefully leading to hotels, shopping centers, and other economic activity.
The park is not slated to be completed until 2023. It needs to clear government hurdles before the estimated two years of construction can begin.
I guess the rabbis involved are either just rabbis by coincidence and their rabbinic titles don't really have anything to do with their involvement, or else perhaps they are involved in the form of consulting on what would make a Jewish themed attraction.
Some people will surely oppose this, either on sociological grounds or religious grounds. I am also sure the entrance fees will be ridiculously high, maybe even prohibitively high for many. Still, I think it is a good thing. Better to provide fun opportunities for people here than to make them look for it elsewhere.
And I can't wait to see what Mickey Mouse looks like with an Israeli attitude!
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