Friday 26 March 2010

UPDATE: Shipwreck became travelling museum show and is now morphing into amusement park

I'm getting set to throw out the five Titanic books I own. We will smash our Titanic wine goblets into the fireplace like we were at a traditional Jewish wedding. I will take down the Titanic poster I got from the Science Centre when the latest Titanic show left port for some museum in Toledo, or was it Mexico City or Rio? I am going to purge my CV so that I no longer brag about doing PR for a Titanic exhibition at the Boat Show (it had authentic Titanic deck chairs and life jackets), assisting with the marketing of the first Titanic exhibition held in the Better Living Building at the CNE (the original artifact exhibition with items recovered by submarine), pre-promoting James Cameron's movie Titanic at Underwater Canada, trying to acquire 3-D underwater footage from Dr. Joe MacInnis for display at the Pier (Toronto's now closed marine museum) and assisting the Ontario Science Centre with yet another travelling Titanic exhibition
I thought I had an unquenchable thirst for the Titanic. I was wrong. It has reached the end. Clive Cussler. Dr Ballard. Dr. Joe MacInnis. Steve Santini. R.M.S. Titanic (the owners of the travelling shows -, James Cameron. Please take me off your mailing lists. I am not buying another blessed thing about the wreck of the Titanic.
What was the tipping point? Photographer Dave Tollington sent me the photograph shown above. Cedar Bay Entertainment a privately owned entertainment and development company which built the Branson, Missouri first Titanic Museum Attraction is close to finishing another museum attraction, this time in Pigeon Ford,Tennessee. In Branson, the building is shaped like a mini-Titanic, except that it only has two smokestacks. Aside from the museum they also hold mystery theatre nights and weddings inside the replica Titanic state rooms.
Cedar Bay expects to open the Tennessee Titanic Pigeon Forge Museum Attraction this April 2010. According to Mary Kellogg, their media contact, the new attraction is "shaped like Titanic herself. It will comfortably hold 20 galleries to display hundreds of authentic, priceless Titanic artifacts."
Cedar Bay is not affiliated with R.M.S Titanic. R.M.S Titanic has a legal lock on the rights to salvage material directly from the sunk shipwreck, so where are the aforementioned priceless Titanic artifacts coming from? Again according to Ms. Kellogg, the items that will be display were " either carried from the ship and into lifeboats by passengers and crew, or were found afloat soon after the sinking and quickly salvaged by rescue boats."
As mentioned, I worked with Linda Crane to promote a Canadian exhibition of Titanic flotsam and jetsam at the Toronto International Boat Show. The collection was at that time owned by magician Steve Santini, who is reported to have recently sold his Titanic holdings. Are those artifacts now in Tennessee? Probably. The new museum attraction will have dive footage showing the ship underwater, could that be the same footage that the Pier Museum in Toronto tried to acquire?
(Actually not. In March 2010 I exchanged email with Rick Laney from Ackerman PR, the firm handling the April opening of the museum. Accordingto Laney the film that visitors can see "is footage shot by John Joslyn – the owner of the new Titanic Museum. He has made 32 dives to the Titanic since the late 1980s.")
But, why is the Titanic being rebuilt in the Smoky Mountains? According to the attraction's website (, a life-size facsimile of a Titanic First Class stateroom will be constructed in honour the Polk-Carters family. "Polk-Carters, a socially prominent American family—with strong ancestral ties to Tennessee— were returning home (on the Titanic) to Philadelphia following a trip abroad".
Travel photographer Tollington has another idea. When asked why he thought the Titanic was being built in a landlocked state he replied "same reason the upside-down house --"Wonder Works" ( in Sevierville down the road from the Titanic was built; the more tourist bullshit around here that has nothing to do with the Smoky Mountains,the better it seems..."
Thirty years on, I've have finally overdosed on the Titanic. When the "unsinkable" ship sails into the Smoky Mountains, she will do so without me or my money onboard. Never mind the 20,200,000 postings on Google for the Titanic, but, isn't time she was allowed to really sink?
Cutline: Still missing two smoke stakes, the new Titanic Museum Attraction begins to shape up. The museum is being built in the Tennessee Smoky Mountarins of the United States. Photograph by Dave Tollington.
Post Script - I lied, there is one Titanic epherma I will continue to enjoy: (nude painting of Kate Winslow and Storm Trooper on board the Titanic - photo by French photogapher Stéfan Le Dû)

UPDATE: The museum is set to open. This press release went out today (March 26th)

Regis Philbin to host Grand Opening Event in Pigeon Forge
We pay respect to Titanic by telling the story of the ship and her passengers

Titanic Museum Attraction Will Open on April 8


Pigeon Forge, TN (Vocus/PRWEB ) March 26, 2010 -- The new Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. will open on Thursday, April 8, 2010 with a star-studded Grand Opening hosted by Regis Philbin. The event, which is open to the public, also will be attended by descendants and family members of those on board the Titanic and includes a christening of the ship.
The weekend-long Grand Opening Celebration at the new Titanic Museum Attraction includes the christening by Philbin, a free concert by country music legend Neal McCoy, a free concert by Beatles cover band Liverpool Legends (hand-picked and managed by George Harrison’s sister), nightly fireworks displays and special events and performances through Sunday, April 11.
Philbin, best known for his television shows including Live With Regis & Kathie Lee and Who Wants to be A Millionaire, will serve as master of ceremonies during the Grand Opening. Philbin’s television career started more than 50 years ago when he was a reporter in San Diego. Since that time, he has become a national fixture with a string of Emmy Award-winning shows. The christening and Grand Opening event, which take place outside of the Titanic Museum Attraction, are free and open to the public.
Titanic Museum Attraction is a half-scale, permanent, three-deck reproduction of the Titanic. The museum houses 20 galleries to display hundreds of authentic, priceless Titanic artifacts that were either carried from the ship and into lifeboats by passengers and crew, or were found afloat soon after the sinking and quickly salvaged by rescue boats.
Inside the Titanic Museum Attraction, visitors find full-size reproductions (built to actual Titanic blueprints) of Third-Class quarters, a First-Class suite, dining rooms and – the museum’s centerpiece – a $1 million exact reproduction of the Titanic’s Grand Staircase. The First-Class suite in the Titanic Museum Attraction, which was occupied by Isidor and Ida Straus who founded and owned Macy’s Department Stores, was also the cabin used in James Cameron’s blockbuster movie Titanic as Rose’s suite.
“We pay respect to Titanic by telling the story of the ship and her passengers,” said John Joslyn, owner of the new Titanic Museum Attraction. “Visitors learn the individual stories of those onboard the ship as they are learning about the ship itself. We have spent years researching these people and their stories are absolutely amazing.
“In addition to an unparalleled collection of artifacts, we have built Titanic Museum Attraction as a completely interactive attraction. You hear the wonderful stories as you’re going through the museum, but you are also experiencing things the way they were in 1912 when Titanic sailed. It’s one thing to hear about the men who shoveled coal into the boilers – but it comes to life for you when you pick up that shovel and feel what it means to shovel coal into a furnace.”
In addition to being a world class museum in the truest sense of the word, Titanic Museum Attraction is also highly interactive and offers a hands-on experience for children, teenagers and adults. The ship is anchored in water to create the illusion of Titanic at sea, and a 90-minute self-guided tour gives guests the sensation of sailing on the original ship’s 1912 maiden voyage. Upon entry, each guest receives a boarding pass bearing the name of an actual Titanic passenger or crew member whose fate is revealed on the Memorial Wall at tour end. Along the way, powerful emotions surface as guests:

* Walk Titanic’s Grand Staircase
* Touch the frozen surface of an “iceberg”
* Feel the chill of that fateful “Starry Night”
* Study some of the largest, most detailed Titanic models ever built
* Grip the ship’s wheel and follow the Captain’s commands
* Tour world-class galleries and the rare historical artifacts they hold
* Sit in a Titanic lifeboat and listen to actual survivors tell their stories
* Send an SOS from the Marconi Wireless Room
* Test their balance while standing on mini-decks built to show the ever-steeper slope of Titanic as she sank
* Watch children eight years and younger explore the special interactive TOTanic Play-and-Learn Room
* Dive to Titanic’s wreck site via spectacular underwater camera footage

The Titanic Museum Attraction Grand Opening event begins on Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 10 a.m. and continues with special events and celebrity guest appearances throughout the weekend. Tickets to the new Titanic Museum Attraction, which will open April 8, are now available online at (Note: The outdoor Grand Opening and christening are free and open to the public, but admission to the Titanic Museum Attraction requires a ticket.)
Cedar Bay Entertainment is a privately owned entertainment and development company headquartered in Branson, Missouri, the site of Cedar Bay’s first Titanic Museum Attraction. Since its April 2006 grand opening, it has welcomed more than 2,000,000 guests.
Editors: For more information about the Titanic Museum Attraction Grand Opening or to arrange for a media visit, please contact Rick Laney at (865) XXX-XXXX. High resolution photos of the new Titanic Museum are available upon request. A complete Regis Philbin bio is also available upon request.