RMS Titanic: World’s Largest Museum Attraction dedicated to the doomed White Star liner opens in Branson, Missouri!
The new Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tenn (Branson, Missouri) opened April 8 – with a star-studded Grand Opening hosted by Regis Philbin (pictured left with the Titanic’s museum capatain). The event, which was open to the public, was also attended by descendants and family members of those on board the Titanic and included a christening of the ship. More than 4,000 people toured the Titanic Museum Attraction by the end of its opening day.
You’re asking – is this a joke – could there be an RMS Titanic museum in a place called Pigeon Forge, near Branson, Missouri!? Yes, it’s true. There it is – the largest Titanic museum in the world – right next to Dolly Parton shrines, Tony Orlando meets the Lennon Sisters, and summer performances of Kathy Rigby starring in “Peter Pan”! And for any Titanic obsessed fan – the museum is worth a visit.
(Left: Museum visitors viewing model of Titanic) The 1912 sinking of the Titanic offers a storyline that would tempt any tourism mogul. But unless you can bankroll a fun-house/motion-master IMAX ride that puts hundreds of visitors in the center of the calamity — and thus far no one has — you’re sunk. You could open a museum of artifacts instead, but that presents a problem: most of the ocean liner’s contents ended up at the bottom of the North Atlantic.
In the late 1980s, John Whitman of Sidney, Ohio, tried to navigate around this obstacle by opening a Titanic theme park, which combined entertaining distractions with a handful of artifacts. Whitman wanted to build a huge replica of the ship (he owned the original blueprints) and a fake Liverpool wharf through which visitors could wander. But his dreams were premature, and without support from the town, or almost anyone else in Ohio, his attraction folded.
(The exhibits are exceptional and very well presented. This is a room dedicated to passengers – including an original life-vest.)
Then came the movie in 1997, and suddenly the Titanic was a hot property. Two businessmen opened Titanic: Ship of Dreams in a strip mall in Orlando. They sweetened their collection of Titanic stuff with items from Titanic’s sister ships, so that you could look at stuff that was nearly identical to the stuff lost on the Titanic. They also significantly upped the “attraction” ante by building a replica of the ship’s Grand Staircase, and its bridge, and by populating the museum with actors dressed as the crew.
(Museum entrance, the RMS Titanic re-created and the fateful iceberg.)