Construction of the project has been prolonged so that the simulation will be as close and accurate to the original as possible. Developers are using advanced computer systems, and professional photos taken from every angle, to insure the accuracy of the model. Unique materials are also being used in order to insure accurate textures.
Opening day is still months away, expected on erev Pesach, but already now, many people have pre-ordered tickets and reserved a spot.
Hang on tight: Close to a million people have already pre-ordered tickets at 30$ a ticket, waiting to be enthralled by the fascinating project.
True, the world has already seen projects of such nature successfully constructed. In Hamburg, Germany, there already exists such a kind of complex called ‘Miniatur Wunderland'.
However, the ‘Gulliver Gate’ leads the German Project way ahead- with a 40-million-dollar investment, and 2 million visitors expected in the first year alone.
The man standing behind this unprecedented project, is a Chareidi Jew by the name of Menachem Langer.
Langer is a very successful businessman that resides in Lawrence New York. At profession, he specializes in technological entrepreneurship, which has led him to this project, which he refers to as “The project of my life so far”.
He seeks regularly advice from R’ Michael Bornstein from Yerushalayim, a talmid of the late Gaon R’ Moishe Shapirah Z’’L who was nifter last month. Langer attests about himself that he doesn’t make a move without first consulting R’ Bornstein.
The Chareidi philanthropist gives no small sums to various Tzedakah causes, and also volunteers his time for teens at risk. He is also familiar with the field of aviation as he is an aerobatic pilot.
Langer himself, had a hard time believing the tremendous buzz his project made on the international arena.
Because of the tremendous investment and high numbers of visitors expected at the upcoming miniature world, many countries see it as a platform to attract more tourists to their own borders. The hope is, visitors will get inspired by a country’s miniature wonder, and will in turn become inspired to travel to that country to see the real-life, full-size wonder.
The tremendous potential evident in the project has spiked great interest among many countries tourism ministries; some have even sent their own representatives to participate in the projects construction, to ensure that their countries are presented in the most impressive fashion possible- in a hope that it would increase more tourism to their country.
Among the countries playing a role behind the scenes, is Israel’s foreign Ministry. It too, sees the project as a potential platform for promoting tourism to Israel, after visitors have been impressed by the miniature model at ‘Gulliver Gate’.
Langer found himself experiencing the intrigue of politics, like in real-life international politics. Actual struggles have taken place, and are still happening, between representatives of various countries over the way their country will be presented. As well, brawls between rival countries have taken place, over ownership of certain regions. Finding himself caught in international brawls, Langer realizes that he must find some kind of compromise that satisfies both sides; or at least as much as possible.
“We are already working on this project for five years” says Menachem Langer, in a special interview to “Bechadrei Chareidim” from his house in Lawrence, New York.
In the first year, we primarily advanced with business meetings and planning, and for the past four years we are working on the ‘Gulliver Gate’. I live it every moment”.
Although, Langer is the face of the project, he is not in it alone. He has two partners, one of them has tremendous experience with miniatures. “My friend Eiren Gazit came with his vast experience from ‘Mini Israel’, and together with a third partner, who does not want his name published, we launched the project”.The three partners did their homework well, and also visited ‘Miniatur Wunderland’ the complex in Hamburg Germany, that is already around for 15 years, and demonstrates a similar idea. “We told ourselves-if it’s successful in Germany, and visitors enjoy themselves so immensely, we have to bring it to “Times Square”. We are friends with the corporation in Hamburg, and they have helped us plenty”, says Langer.
The complex’s strategic location is “Times Square”, the nerve center of New York, and one of the most visited place in the world.
Space available for rent in popular “Times Square” is almost nonexistent, and the options that do exist are enormously priced, and are exclusively offered to large corporations. “When we started off they did not want to give us the space” Langer recalls. “This was Mamish Siyata Dishmaya, we are a small corporation and there are many like us”.
The treasured space is located in a structure that used to belong to ‘Africa Israel’, a company belonging to the Chareidi billionaire, Lev Levayov. After some turn-overs the property ended up in the hands of Jared Kushner, the Jewish son in law of President Donald Trump. “This was perfect timing of Hashgacha pratis. Within 48 hours we succeeded in convincing them to rent us the space and the deal was signed”.
What a deal. In contrast to the German complex that dominates four floors, the ‘Gulliver Gate’ encompasses a huge area all on one level, the size of a football field. Langer and his partners managed to secure a long-term rental contract for a period of many years, which in its own is a tremendous success on the stage of business real-estate in “Times Square”.
When you speak to Langer about his baby, he gets excited over every detail. It’s clear that the man is investing his blood in the project, and is concerned over each and every centimeter.
“I am building a small world”. Says Langer
“Work is being done 24 hours a day, so that everything will be complete by the time it will be opened, on erev Pesach.
It is important that everything should be very exact and loyal to the original. We believe that every country recognizes its significant things more than we do, therefore we embarked on a new concept- the various countries designed their own models.
In order to enrich the experience, the complex is built like a small world, upon entry, one can purchase a ‘Gulliver Gate’ passport, and with every country visited in the complex the visitor gets his passport stamped”.
No means is spared, and especially with paying attention to fine details.
“The buildings are lit up and the characters move, the planes land and take-off, trains travel between snowy cities, even the panama canal through which commercial ships pass, was built amazingly accurate; including the fluctuating of tidal waters”. Rejoices Langer.
“In the ‘Gulliver’ there is nothing static, everything moves and is dynamic.
Since we can’t display everything, we chose the most important elements of every country, and that is what we are displaying”.
The project will also be presenting Certain Muslim countries, such as Egypt, which prides itself with its magnificent pyramids. Saudi Arabia will also be featured amongst other Muslim countries”.
If you were wondering about Iran, no- it will not be displayed.
Langer admits that not all countries wanted to participate. “Africa did not want to take part in the project, but since it is important to us that the continent be included in the project; we left an empty space in the complex, where we will design and construct it ourselves. Africa can’t be left out, think about its wild jungles- it’s Fantastic”.
As a microcosm of reality, international diplomatic struggles express themselves in ‘Gulliver Gate’.
Forty-five countries are represented in the project, 12 of them are European. The constrains in place and the tremendous potential of approximately 2 million visitors a year, creates plenty of tension between many foreign ministries and departments of tourism around the world. Each country competing to get the better of Langer and his partners; so that their country is properly represented the way they desire.
Since the project is almost complete, the remaining slots available, located in the Asian and Middle Eastern sections, are still being intensely deliberated, and quite a few countries are competing to be the ones presented there.
Even the fine details of the project have seen quite a few scenarios of exhausting negotiations. Like the sponsorship of sport stadiums, or like, on the underside of airplanes landing and taking off, there appears a name of a famous airline that paid a handsome amount to be featured there.
For obvious reasons Langer refrains from mentioning names of countries, and the nature of their requests. “The Jews have to live in peace with everyone”, he answers diplomatically. “We are engaged in art, there is no room to enter conflicts. I don’t interfere with politics, rather, I give place in the possible framework. Even a Native American town is constructed in the complex, in the center of Manhattan, as an authentic remembrance to the Native American settlement over five hundred years ago”.
By Koby Har Tzvi
Translated by Eli B.