Plans are in place for public tours of the soon-to-be-completed Orlando Florida Temple.
Church members and non-members are being invited to tour the sacred structure during an open house Sept. 10-30. Tours will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. The temple will be closed on Sundays.The temple, to be the Church's 46th operating temple, will be dedicated Oct. 9-11.
"A committee of almost 500 participants has been busy taking care of the open house and getting ready for the dedication," said Alvie R. Evans Sr., vice chairman of the temple committee and a regional representative serving the Orlando and Tampa Florida regions.
during the open houseT will be conducted through two video pavilions - tent structures - wherein they will view the video presentations that have been prepared by the Church Public Affairs Department, that have been seen at previous temple open houses," Elder Evans said.
A covered walkway will be provided to shield visitors from the late-summer Florida heat as they wait to enter the temple, Elder Evans noted.
Advance publicity has purposely been low-key in keeping with a spirit of reverence the committee hopes will pervade the occasion, he said. Nevertheless, he added, thousands of visitors are expected to attend the open house, as the site is close to tourist attractions in Florida such as Disneyworld, which attracts 70,000 visitors a day.
"We're conducting a couple of VIP open houses for the neighbors and for the clergy of the area on Sept. 8 and 9." he said. "Many of the surrounding public really have no idea of what has been going on for the last two years as that beautiful building was being constructed."
An open house was recently held for the contractors who worked on the temple, and it was well-attended, Elder Evans said. "Many never really knew the purpose of the peculiar design of the temple and the use of different areas of the temple. Hopefully now they have some concept of what the very diligent labor and good craftsmanship they have performed for us is all about."
Visitors are strongly encouraged to come in car pools, as parking is expected to be scarce. When overflow parking is necessary, visitors will be shuttled from an alternate parking area about a mile away from the temple.
The temple district comprises 22 stakes, taking in all of the state of Florida, as well as the Savannah Georgia Stake.
"The temple site is on a rolling hill in central Florida that overlooks a beautiful chain of lakes and is prominent in the community," Elder Evans said. "It can be seen from a great distance, and I know in the future it will be a landmark, as people will speak of the beautiful, glowing building out on the hill."
Noting that Florida is characterized by flat terrain, Elder Evans quipped, "It was quite nice to see there was a hill the Lord had left out there for us."
"We have found that the attitude of the local public officials has dramatically changed as the structure becomes more complete," he said. "They were hard, at first, against the proposition of a temple being built there. After much struggle the building permit was issued and construction began. As it went up, and particularly after the lights went on, it just softened the hearts of the whole community."
One illustration of the goodwill that has come about concerns parking for the open house.
"We had exhausted all our efforts to expand our parking facilities," Elder Evans related. "We had originally been turned down by a wonderful group of people who are meeting in a Methodist church just a mile away. They came back at the last minute and just volunteered a thousand parking places on their property at no cost to the Church. That's the type of experience we've had."
Tickets for the open house may be obtained by writing to Jacquelin Munns, ticket coordinator, at 718 Mustang Court, Winter Springs, Fla. 32708. Information about tickets, maps, housing or other matters may be obtained by calling her at 1-800-425-LDS1 (1-800-425-5371), or locally at (407) 366-8310.