On this cold Saturday morning, everything in Northeast Tennessee was covered with a beautiful sheen of ice following our recent winter storm. What a perfect day to remember those souls who were aboard the Titanic just over 100 years ago.
The museum is located along the main strip as we entered Pigeon Forge. It’s right along the road, you can’t miss it! The sign is along the road as well, plus a multitude of billboards along the way.
I took a few snacks along because I wasn’t sure if there was anything (or any place to eat) offered inside the museum. My kids had their snacks before we entered the museum.
When we reached the entrance to the museum, we were promptly greeted by an employee in Titanic staff costume. She handed each of us a boarding pass. On the back of the pass was our character for the duration of our visit. We were told that we would find out at the end of the tour if our character survived the journey.
My character’s biography was eerily close to my own life…..she was a year younger than I am, and had two small children traveling with her. I immediately felt a need to find out if she survived the Titanic’s fateful voyage. You’ll just have to visit for yourself to find out what happened to her! There is a sign along the front stating that no cameras or cell phones can be used during one’s tour through the museum. Because of this, the following photos are used with permission from the museum’s website. You can view a preview of the museum by clicking here.…and believe me, you’ll want to! We were given speakers hanging from lanyards to wear throughout our travel. By holding the speaker to our ears like a phone, we could each hear an audio message about the rooms we visited. There were two recordings for each room, one for adults and one for children. My daughter (8 years old) especially loved the independence of this. She wanted to hear every message in its entirety. Unfortunately my son wasn’t as interested (he’s 3 years old) so my husband and I took turns moving ahead so that each child could see what they wanted. I definitely want to visit the museum again when my son is older because I know there were some things I missed by moving so quickly through the tour. Everything was so well lit and generously spaced so that there was room to walk through each area. Guides were available in every room to assist with questions, help with activities, or just to interact with the guests. It helped to make the experience even more special.
The artifacts in the museum were simply amazing. One of the guides told me that there are hundreds of authentic Titanic artifacts in the museum, some found floating in the ocean after the disaster and others were donated. Just seeing the belongings of those travelers put a hole in my heart. We had the unique opportunity to see the exhibit memorializing the smallest of the passengers–the children–and it was heartbreaking to look at the pictures of those little faces. Some of the artifacts belonged to those children (clothing, shoes, and toys). The guides are so knowledgeable; they shared many stories with us that weren’t found on the walls of the exhibit. I couldn’t get enough! There was plenty to occupy the kids during the tour. They loved seeing the replica of a third-class room. My daughter was in disbelief about how small the beds were, until the guide told her that the travelers would have felt like they were in paradise by having clean water in their room each day. They could even sit in the lifeboats to see how large they were. One guide told me that most of the bigger lifeboats were filled to less than half capacity. So sad! It was neat to see my daughter have an interest in history. The ability to experience so many sights and sounds was a great opportunity for the kids to have sensory stimulation. This would be an excellent place for parents of special needs children to consider for a trip. There were some steps; however, there was an elevator available. There was an entire room devoted to the James Cameron movie Titanic. I looooooooved this room. My husband and I went on one of our first dates when the movie released. We even had some of the soundtrack play at our wedding! So yes, I’m the king of the world and all that. My little girl saw a dress created by fashion designer and passenger Lady Duff Gordon and insisted that she wants to wear that dress at her wedding. Oh, she’s my child for sure!!
My two favorite parts of the museum had to be the grand staircase and the visit to the deck. I laughed when the guide told me that the staircase had linoleum on it because it was considered to be more impressive than marble. So if you have linoleum in your kitchen, you should feel like a first-class passenger! Walking on that staircase was like being transported in time. How many times have I seen that in movies? It is built to scale and is breathtaking in real life. I felt so underdressed in my jeans and blazer. Later we went into the captain’s room and got to see the night as the captain would have viewed it. It was impossible to comprehend the events that would take place on that beautiful starry night. Outside the door, a real wall of ice (simulating the iceberg) was waiting. We all got to touch it. Outside the wall of the ship, you can actually feel the 28-degree water. The room is even cold! I just felt hauntingly sad in that room. My kids tried to climb the incline of the deck, which again reminded me of the movie.
Oh, there is just so much to tell. You just need to visit for yourself. I know that we’ll visit again, especially as my kids learn about the Titanic at school. I feel so fortunate that we have this amazing museum so close to our home. I’d love to take my class there so that we can learn from the history and appreciate the memory of those brave men, women, and children from a century ago.
We arrived at the Titanic Museum around 10 AM, which seemed to be a low-traffic time. It was great; we had the museum nearly all to ourselves. On the website, visitors are reminded to purchase tickets in advance because they sometimes sell out! So keep that in mind when you’re making your trip.