Most people know of the Titanic disaster from the popular 1998 film by James Cameron starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. But how much do you really know about the ship that was the length of 4 city blocks took 15,000 people two years to build, and less than three hours to sink in the early morning hours of April 14, 1912, with only 712 of the 2208 passengers and crew members surviving?
On a recent visit to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, we spent the morning exploring the Titanic Museum, located right on Route 441 in the heart of all the action (and less than a half hour from an entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Read about our adventures in the park here). The other Titanic Museum in America is located in Branson, Missouri.
Traveling with Kids:
I would not recommend this museum for young children. Even if they don’t fully understand the tragedy of what happened, there are not a lot of interactive activities for the toddler set. My eight and ten year old children LOVED the museum, and I’d say ages 6+ would enjoy it. (That being said, strollers are allowed and there are changing tables in the restrooms) Make sure you spend a few minutes ahead of time talking about what happened- there are several areas that discuss young children perishing aboard ship.
Order tickets ahead of time online. You’ll bypass lines and avoid getting shut out of popular times, as they only allow a certain amount of people. We arrived right when they open at 9am (I heard staff telling people they were sold out for the morning) and when we left before 11am, there was a huge line to get into the museum.
Plan on 90 minutes to two hours to travel through all the exhibits and check out the gift shop.
Restrooms are right inside the entrance and then attached to the gift shop at the end of the tour.
No photography is allowed anywhere inside the museum, except to take photos of the replica ship made of legos (the largest in the world).
At the entrance to the tour, guests are given an audio tour so you can go at your own pace. There are two separate tours: one tour for adults with more historical context and information, and one tour narrated for children. There are many stations throughout the exhibits that have multiple choice displays to have children guess the right response. Each guest is also assigned a name and profile of an actual passenger with biographical information. At the end of the tour, you can find out whether the individual survived the sinking of the Titanic.
As you navigate throughout the museum, be sure to check out our Top 20 Highlights in the exhibits:
1. Map of the ship, with highlighted descriptions and miniature replicas of some of the interior rooms.
2. Map of the chartered course the ship took from England to America
3. Actual china used in the first class dining room and a VIP launch ticket
4. A replica furnace (kids will love pretending to put coal in the furnace)
5. “Grocery” list of how much food, tableware, and linens were used on board
6. Photographs of Father Francis Browne, a Jesuit priest who took the only surviving photos of passengers on the ship
7. A dog kennel with stories of dogs on board
8. Replica Grand Staircase built to the same size as the real one aboard the ship (there is a “first class” elevator if guests cannot climb the stairs).
9. Portraits and profiles of some of the musicians who entertained the guests.
10. Bridge mechanical room of the ship. Kids will love pretending to steer the ship or make a phone call on replica phones
11. The infamous iceberg! Make sure you touch the iceberg and dip your hands in 28 degree water to get a feel for how the passengers and crew felt.
12. A six minute film showcasing the Addergoole 14’s voyage on the Titanic (only 3 survived the disaster)
13. The names and images of 130+ children aboard the ship
14. The sloping decks- where you can test your agility on 12, 30, and 45 degree slopes on the deck of the ship
15. The replica lifeboat where you can sit inside and read (and listen) to accounts of people who left the ship on a lifeboat
16. An interactive station where you can practice your morse code and knot tying skills
17. A special spot for younger children with a lego table, magnetic puzzle wall, and steering station
18. The poignant list of survivors and those who perished. You can search for the name of the individual you were assigned at the start of the tour.
19. A replica ship made out of legos- it’s the world’s largest lego ship.
20. The gift shop showcasing all sorts of clothing, jewelry and souvenirs, as well as a chance to purchase photos of your group that were taken inside the ship.
Disclaimer: I was given a media pass to explore the Titanic Museum. However, all opinions expressed are my own. Since I was not allowed to take photographs inside, I’ve included interior photos from the museum, used with permission.