Pigeon Forge, TN
I have been fascinated with the story of Titanic since I was a young girl, so while I was driving down Parkway checking out attractions I wanted to see, this imposing landmark beckoned me in.
There are costumed “crew members” to greet you, and while it’s a self-guided tour, there are also staff around to answer questions, replay passenger experiences, and just add to the whole authentic feel of the tour.
You are issued a boarding pass and ticket with the name of a real passenger. At the end, you find out a little more about yourself and if you were one of the survivors or not.
The exhibits are so well done, they help immerse you in the experience, where you can climb the Grand Staircase, stroll the hallways, and take a peak inside to see what the interior rooms were like.
The Grand Staircase is an exact replica and it alone took $1 million to recreate from the actual blueprints. I hung out here a lot, walking up and down the stairs, looking up at the milkglass domed skylight and imagining myself in “Rose” clothes and big hat!
No photos are allowed to be taken inside, so those above are from their website. But you can get your picture taken and they impose it onto the Grand Staircase, Captain’s Bridge and stateroom.
I wished I had dressed up better for the occasion!
You can stroll the deck under starry skies, try to keep your balance on the sloping decks demo, and feel how terribly cold the water was in which they were plunged.
It’s an impressive museum and they vary themes and special exhibits periodically. During my visit they were featuring the iconic “Titanic violin” that belonged to and was played onboard by bandleader Wallace Hartley. One of the most moving parts of the survivors’ story to me was how the musicians played on to the end, and how Hartley led the eight member band as the ship sank, all going down with the ship. A newspaper at that time reported “the part played by the orchestra on board the Titanic in her last dreadful moments will rank among the noblest in the annals of heroism at sea.” Hartley’s body was found “fully dressed with his music case strapped to his body.”
I had the chance to meet the Captain – Edward J. Smith
(portrayed by Lowell Lytle).
This man is fascinating in his own right. He’s an actor who plays the part of Capital Smith all over the globe. He was part of the expedition in 2000 where he spent 11 hours in a Russian deep sea submersible viewing the historic ship and its debris field. He told me of that experience, “This was not a movie – this was the real thing. No one can see Titanic with their own eyes and not be changed.” His friendliness and eagerness to talk to guests about the museum and what it recreates was a real treat at the end of my journey.
So I definitely recommend checking this out when you’re in Pigeon Forge – it’s hard to miss!