“Thousands Attend Orlando Temple Open House,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 111–12
More than ninety-three thousand people toured the Orlando Florida Temple during a three-week open house that was “exceptionally well received,” according to Rulon Munns, Orlando Florida Temple open house and dedication committee coordinator.
Throughout the September 10–30 open house, the more than ten thousand Church members who volunteered their time for six-hour shifts kept hearing the same words from visitors—“magnificent” and “inspiring.” Several visitors of other faiths noted that while they were in the temple, they completely forgot about their problems and felt a peace that lingered even after they had left the sacred edifice.
The open house began with two days of tours for community leaders, media representatives, and other invited guests. Volunteer workers were touched by the awe and marked reverence visitors displayed. During the press conference, people listened quietly to Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who gave the opening address. Then they watched an introductory film, walked through an exhibit, and toured the 70,000-square-foot temple, which is built of gleaming white stone. The quiet reverence felt during that first press conference continued throughout the three weeks of the open house.
Many people responded to the spiritual feelings they felt as they toured the new temple. Genean McKinnon, temple open house committee spokesperson, noted that more than eight hundred missionary referrals were expected from the event.
Robert Attipoe is one of many whose life was changed as a result of the open house. Born in western Africa and educated in Great Britain, Robert is currently an intern at an Orlando hospital. Some weeks ago, he was searching for a lost telegram and spoke at length to Rayola McBride, a Western Union customer-service operator working out of Reno, Nevada. Over a period of several days, she helped him locate the telegram. In gratitude, Dr. Attipoe told her to call him if she ever came to Florida.
A few weeks later Rayola and her husband, Cal, both members of the Church, decided to visit Florida. They also decided to take Dr. Attipoe up on his offer. Once they arrived in Orlando, they called him and invited him to spend the day in Disney World with them. However, during breakfast, the McBrides were prompted to take the intern to the open house instead.
Upon entering the pavilion, Robert was moved to tears at the sight of the statue of Christ. As he exited the temple, he told the missionaries he wanted to be baptized. On September 24, Robert was baptized by Brother McBride, who flew to Florida from Nevada with Sister McBride to be a part of this special day. Robert feels he has a great work to do among his African ancestors and is looking forward to visiting the temple again as a member.
Brent Holliday, assistant to Brother Munns, reported that members contributed more than one hundred thousand working hours during the open house. Many members volunteered for extra hours or remained to work a second shift because it was such a wonderful atmosphere to work in.
“From the very beginning, our main objective was quality,” Brother Munns observed. “Creating a positive, informative, and peaceful tour was the focal point of the open house. I think we were very successful in achieving that goal.”
James Tew, Church public affairs director for the North America Southeast Area, and Sister McKinnon both commented on the favorable press coverage of the open house. Local radio and television stations covered the event. A story featuring an interview with Elder Ballard was carried in fifteen papers around the state, “from Key West to Fort Walton Beach, literally from ‘tip to toe’ in Florida,” Sister McKinnon said. The local ABC affiliate televised the weather report live from the temple grounds, and a Tampa Tribune article was picked up by the wire service and distributed nationwide.