While we were in Pigeon Forge, we spent an afternoon at the Titanic Museum.
When driving through Pigeon Forge, you cannot miss it – this huge replica of the ship, built half-size, commands attention as it appears ready to plow through the parkway. Parking is free, and convenient.
At the entrance, 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! 😀 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’ – how old we were, where we were headed to, our families..
At the entrance to the museum, our voyage began…
Outside the massive ship, the ticket lines stretch out, snaking back and forth, while passengers wait to board the ship (we were there in the off season, so no crowds to weave through!).
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 and indepth dimension to the experience.
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)…
Going inside the museum, we really weren’t sure what to expect since we had never been there before. I was a little leary 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, 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. The kids all thought that was really neat, and it gave us bigs an appreciation for the men that had that job – the shovel is weighted, and the display told you how many times you would have to put a shovel full of coal into the fire. I wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes! LOL!
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.
There were displays about everything from the dogs that were brought on the ship, to explaining the differences between the classes of passengers in regards to accommodations and segregation. They even told about the 2 large families that were on board, and what happened to them.
After touring the bottom of the ship, we headed up to the passenger decks via the Rotunda. The ship’s rotunda was built, to scale, using the original ships blueprints. The museum’s hand-carved reproduction cost $1 million dollars to build. 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 museum has so many interesting displays! They even cover the movie The Titanic (should I admit here that I just couldn’t stomach a Hollywood farce on it, and have never watched it?).
One of our favorites though, 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 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. While it was sobering for us bigs, the littles just thought it neat to be able to touch an iceberg and feel how cold the water in the ocean was.
This year, The Titanic Museum opened a new display featuring a room honoring and telling about the 133 children on the Titanic. It was fun for the kids to find ‘themselves’ (per boarding passes) in this room and to see pictures of what their passenger-self looked like.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…)
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.
As a homeschooler (I mean ROADschooler), I appreciated that the museum website even has a free educational guide that gives you all sorts of ideas for lessons that pertain to the Titanic (easy to do, and perfect for unit studies or prepping the kids for a visit!). Everything from creating graphs using the amounts of supplies taken on the Titanic, which you can do at home with the provided information, to a scavenger hunt when you get to the museum.
So, the nitty gritty? The Titanic Museum was fabulous! I was pleasantly surprised at how involved and interested my kids all were.
Jacob 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; we must have because we bought the pictures that they took – which we NEVER do… (and the photo people were no pressure, or else we would have walked 😉 )…
The museum was so balanced that the bigs were interested while the littles were not bored (thank you audio players and hands-on touching!). 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.
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 prob 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.
So, thinking that you might want to swing by?
You can buy tickets online:
|Advance Reservation – Adult||$21.38 + tax|
|Advance Reservation – Child (5-12)||$11.14 + tax|
|Advance Reservation – Family Pass (2 adults, 4 children)*||$58.80 + tax|
|Advance Reservation – Child (0-4)||Free|
The Family Pass is a really good deal! 😉
You can also buy tickets at the museum, but if it is busy, then it is much better to already have your tickets. The website also offers deals for reduced rates in conjunction with the purchase of tickets to other Pigeon Forge destinations.
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 the kids!)
*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.
*There are designated homeschool days Sept. thru May, with special rates.
*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. 😀
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 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 Branson will have to be one of our stops next year! 😀