Disclosure: I received complimentary passes to the Titanic Museum. All photographs were provided courtesy of the Titanic Museum.
One of the greatest things about the part of the country where I live is it’s access to all sorts of vacation destinations. We’re only about 6-8 hours from the beach and about an hour from the Smoky Mountains. The family and I pile in the car every few weeks and head to Smoky Mountains and the towns that surround them.
Recently the kids and I were invited to visit the brand new Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN.
I was a bit leery of taking the kids through the museum because I was worried that they would be bored. I was also worried that it would be so packed that we would be stuck in swarms of people.
There was no need to worry about the crowds because the people who designed and run the museum are smart. To board the ship, each guest is given a ticket with a boarding time. That way, people can’t all show up at once (you know, like when you’re alone in the grocery store until it’s time to pay and there’s suddenly a line a mile long.)
One of the coolest things about the museum was the tickets we were given. The tickets represented actual passengers on the Titanic, and included their age and some information about them. My four-year-old, Carson, was given the ticket of a Father Francis Brown from Dublin, who took the only photographs that remain of life aboard the ship. Ella, who is three, was given the ticket of a little girl on the ship, Manca Karun from Slovenia who, at only four-years-old, was a hero. I was given the ticket of Caroline Endres, a 39-year-old nurse caring for the 18-year-old bride of John Astor. Such scandal! (I actually had to Google the information, but apparently John Astor had d-i-v-o-r-c-e-d and remarried this young tart.)
The kids were wholly unimpressed by the tickets, but I loved this touch. Unfortunately the kids were just a bit too young to really understand most of the artifacts in the museum. Had they not been with me, I would have loved to have spent more time looking at each piece. The tour through the museum was self-guided which allowed people to really examine and read about the Titanic’s fateful journey. (That is, if you didn’t have a three and four-year-old tagging along.)
One of the really impressive parts of the Titanic Museum was it’s scale version of the ship’s Grand Staircase. It was stunning.
There were a few hands on activities that the kids really enjoyed. They had a chance to shovel coal into the ship’s furnace. In the Captain’s Bridge, Carson and Ella had a chance to steer the boat. We got to touch an iceberg and put our hands in water the same temperature as the water the night the Titanic sunk. The water was so unbelievably cold, I couldn’t imagine having anymore than my hand in that water for any length of time.
At the end of the tour around the museum, there was a little area called Tot-tanic where the kids got to experience the changing steepness of the deck as the ship sunk and also play a game where they tried to steer the ship and avoid hitting the iceberg. Sadly, they both sunk the Titanic.
I think my kids were just a little bit too young to truly enjoy the museum, but I really loved it. The Titanic Museum did a fabulous job of displaying items and recreating rooms from the ship to give you a sense of what it had been like. They also did an excellent job of fostering a sense of honor and peace for the victims of the Titanic.
Just so you know, cameras weren’t allowed, but they did take your picture at the end and superimpose it in front of the Grand Staircase.