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Discover the Titanic like never before…

April 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Last week we drove through Tennessee, and stopped by The Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge. This is not a cheesy touristy destination, but a classy, interesting, educational, incredibly well done museum that appeals to all ages! The outside of the Titanic Museum was built to replicate the huge ship; it was made to a 50% scale of the original HMS Titanic, and is still gigantic! They have a large, free parking lot, with plenty of room for big rigs (we went during the off season).
     At the entrance to the museum, we were met by ‘the captain’, and another staffer, dressed in Titanic replica costumes. They gave each of us our ‘boarding passes’; the boarding passes were colorful half-sheets that told us the name of a real passenger (kids got kid passengers, adults got adults), the age of that person, where they were from, and what class accommodations they were. Since we have lots of kids, we got a lot of boarding passes! :D The kids swapped theirs around, and most of mine had Titanic kids that were their same ages, or close to it (tho I think that Jacob ended up being 3 ;) ). Vaughn, Eli, Beth, and I were all adult passengers; Beth was the most wealthy passenger on board, while I was a 53 y.o., first class passenger who was a social activist, Capitol Hill socialite, and feminist writer (ROFL!!). It was fun to read the several paragraphs telling us about ‘ourselves’, including where we were headed to and a bit about our families.
TN 424     When you purchase your tickets, you can also rent audio players, which I HIGHLY recommend! The museum is self-guided, and while you won’t need them to enjoy the museum, they do add a new, personal, and more in-depth dimension to the experience. The audios are told from a passenger perspective, by multiple voices. Throughout the museum are little signs that give you a number to punch into your player – there are kids recordings, then more graphic adult recordings for many of the displays in the museum (there were about 20 of each throughout the museum). I underestimated how much my kids, big and little, would like these recordings! They would look for those little plaques, signifying a new recording, as if it were a treasure hunt. Each time they would find one, they would plug the number in, and it would be silent as they were all listening to the narrative. The players were simple to use – even Peanut ran her own independently (and listened all the way through the end). Every one of us was interested in the audios!
     Going inside the museum, we really weren’t sure what to expect since we had never been there before. I was a little leery about whether it would be appropriate for my younger kids, or not reverent enough considering the tragedy. It ended up being fun for the littles, and heart stirring for the bigs. Daniel and I even shared a few tears over one of the stories that was about a little boy and the teddy bear that the boy sent on the Titanic, with his daddy, for luck; the bear was later found with the dad’s body.
      When you walk into The Titanic Museum, you enter at the bottom of the ship, and the displays are in chronological order, starting with general info about the HMS Titanic’s design and building, and the staff. The museum then takes you into the bowels of the ship, including the boiler room, where there is an interactive display where you can shovel coal into the furnace.
     Throughout the museum are costumed ship staff who will tell you all sorts of interesting information about the ship and passengers, expand on the displays, and cheerfully answer all our questions. They were all very professional, made you feel like you were on the ship itself, and help you to understand the huge amount of authenic Titanic artifacts.
     After touring the bottom of the ship, we headed up to the passenger decks via the Rotunda. The ship’s grand staircase was built, to scale, using the original ships blueprints. The museum’s hand-carved reproduction cost $1 million dollars to build. It is Exquisite! While most visitors choose to climb the grand staircase to the second story, the museum is handicap accessible – there is an elevator if you want/need/prefer it.  The whole museum is very well done; no expense was spared in it’s creation.
     The museum has so many interesting displays! One of our favorites was the ship’s bridge. The ‘captain’ is in there to explain about how everything works, and to expound on the happenings of the night the Titanic sunk. After talking with the captain, we went out on deck – into a dark room that is chilled to the temperature of the night the Titanic sunk. With stars twinkling overhead, there is an ‘iceberg’ that you can touch, and reaching over the side of the ship, you can put your hand into freezing cold water. Water the same temperature of that in which over a thousand people were dumped into that night. It really made us better understand how so many lives were lost in such a short time – no-one could have lived long at all in those freezing temperatures.
TN 430     There were numerous interesting displays upstairs, including one that simulated the increasing slope of the deck as the Titanic sunk. There is a room where you can look up yourself (your boarding pass passenger), and see if you made it off the ship alive. I was really surprised that every one of the kids (and of course us parents) was actively looking to find out if they lived or died. We all made it off except for Eli and Thomas; in reality, 2/3 of the people on the Titanic perished when it went down; that would have been 7 or 8 of us that didn’t make it… (not counting for the ‘women and children first rule…)
     The museum also has a ‘kids area’ that features some fun, interactive activities for kids 10 and under. We spent about half an hour there with the littles as the bigs examined and read more about the disaster. The kids could tie knots, do a large magnetic puzzle of the Titanic on the wall, and even steer the ship’s helm to see if THEY could have avoided the iceberg in the 37 seconds between it being seen and the ship colliding with it.
     The end of the museum even covers the search for and the discovery of the Titanic wreckage. Did you know that the owner of the museum, John Joslyn, was the 2nd person to organize a Titanic expedition to discover the wreckage? I really think that this museum is so fantastic because it has grown out of a personal passion of his for the Titanic and her stories.
TN 425     So, the nitty gritty? The Titanic Museum was fabulous! For all of us, no matter our age. I was pleasantly surprised at how involved and interested my kids all were. Jacob (15) even exclaimed, “This is a really cool museum!” – which means it really must be! LOL!
     The museum has a nice gift shop with everything from t-shirts to Titanic Shrinky Dinks to reproduction china sets to Titanic-opoly (if I remember right, that was an exclusive and in limited quantities.just sayin’.LOL!).
     We really enjoyed our visit to this classy museum! The museum was so balanced that the bigs (including dad & mom) were interested while the littles were not bored (thank you audio players and hands-on activities!). At the end, we asked Peanut what she thought of the museum, and she said that, “it would be sad if it happened to us!”, so she got it, but it wasn’t morbid for her 5 year old little mind. The museum content was VERY family friendly.
     And if you are interested in the massive educational qualitites that the museum offers for your students, there are perks just for you; like an educational area on their site that offers accompanying lesson plans, both to do at home and/or at the museum. There are even designated homeschool days (through May) that offer reduced tickets, and school groups qualify for discounts also.
      We spent a little over 2 hours at the museum, which was perfect for our fam. If it were just us with the bigs, we may have spent a little more time, but probably a little less if we had only had littles with us. It was so interesting. We will never think of the Titanic the same again.
     We went to The Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN, but did you know that there is also one in Branson, MO? Because the artifacts in the museum are originals, the museums do differ some.
You can buy tickets at the museum (the Family Pass is a really good deal!), but if it is during the peak season, then it’s a good idea to buy your tickets online to ensure that you get them! The website offers deals for reduced rates in conjunction with the purchase of tickets to other Pigeon Forge destinations, so if you are planning on going to Dollywood or a few other attractions, you can get a deal by purchasing the tickets together.
     Things to remember for your visit: :)
*You cannot take pictures inside the Titanic museums, but there are lots of photo ops outside (and the costumed staff even offered to have their pics taken with us!)
*Cell phones must be turned off in the museum. (which means that everyone elses cell phones were off also=happy dance ;) )
*No food, drink, or gum is allowed inside the museum.
*Open daily, except Christmas, but purchasing tickets online is recommended, especially during peak seasons.
*Give yourself at least 2 hours to visit the museum.
*Want discount coupons? You can get discounts by texting TITANIC to 62447, and ICEBERG to 62447.
*Plan on wanting to go back for a second time. :D
     After our 2 hours at the museum, we asked everyone what they thought – The Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge was a huge hit with my tribe! Including Dad and Mom! Now that we have been to the museum in Pigeon Forge, we really want to check out the one in Branson! This is a destination worth repeating! TN 437
Disclaimer: We received comped tickets in exchange for our honest review of the museum. All opinions are our own, and no other compensation was received.
As for Molly’s opinion (she’s 3 ;) )?… She is sitting on my lap while I write this post, and just said, “We went there! I want to go there again!!!”…so, there you have it ;) …maybe The Titanic Museum Branson will have to be one of our stops next year! :D

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