There are several places that are larger than life and difficult to miss in Pigeon Forge. One of the places that stands out above everything else is the Titanic Museum located right on the parkway. The first thing that catches your eye is the ship itself. Though not a full version of the legendary ship, it is nonetheless impressive before you walk in the door. It is not the cheapest experience in Gatlinburg at 24 dollars for adults and 11 for kids with advance reservations. However, it is a truly unique experience. There are tons of malls, restaurants, and go-carts in town, but this offers something you won’t get back at home. Even though I tend to like experiences that are more about the mountains or have been established for quite some time, this place does break that pattern and does it well.
One of the great things about this Titanic attraction as opposed to a few others I have done in the past is the interactivity of the place. This is not a passive experience. They draw you in by involving you in the experience of those that were on their ship and bring their stories to life. It all begins as you “board” the vessel. You are given a card that has the name of a passenger or crew member that was aboard. You find out at the end whether or not that person made it out of Titanic alive. If you have been to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., it is similar.
Like I mentioned, they really want you involved in the experience. You will hear audio in several places from first-hand accounts of passengers and crew. You will feel the cold of the night as you watch the night sky out on deck. You can feel the cold of an iceberg and imagine what that water must have felt like. You get to sit in a lifeboat mock-up and get a sense of what those that were saved went through.
At present they have about 400 Titanic artifacts on board that you can view. Though you can’t touch these (obviously), they are an impressive collection that help you understand the passengers and just the experience of being on board Titanic (before the iceberg). Stateroom mock-ups help you to visualize how these people lived as they crossed the Atlantic. The crew is dressed in period uniforms to help to transport you to that time.
You can move through this at your own pace, though crew members are there to feed you information as you go from place to place. You can also get an audio handset that will give you more information along the way for 6 bucks a piece. I would recommend getting the unit once. There is good info, but it is not something you need every time you go.
Perhaps the highlight of this place is the recreation of the Grand Staircase that took the imagination of millions in the movie Titanic. This is recreated with meticulous detail, and will give you an idea of the luxury available on this ship.
There is truly something here for everyone to enjoy whether you are a titanic buff or not. The experience simply draws people of all ages. This is likely one of the many reasons the place is so popular. Like many of the popular attractions and trails in the national park, you are best off taking in this experience when they first open and on weekdays. Keep in mind that traffic on the parkway is a nightmare on the weekends and on many weekdays. You will have to go that route to reach this attraction. Also, keep your eyes out for deals on admission. There are often discounts for different days, multi-day passes, and combination offers with other area attractions. These change often, so I won’t mention them here. The attraction is open at 9am, seven days a week except Christmas day. Also, be aware that they do not allow photography of any kind inside. This is kind of a bummer, but they say that it is a copyright issue. You can expect to finish touring the ship in about an hour and a half. I took about 2 1/2 hours to get through the first time I went. If you are looking for a memorable and unique experience during your next Smokies trip, I encourage you to check it out.