Tag Archives: Titanic

Women and fictional characters first

Some time ago we discussed the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN specifically (a) the nature of a Titanic Museum Attraction, as opposed to a plain old Titanic Museum or Titanic Attraction, and (b) its existence in Pigeon Forge, of all places.

Today a good friend of mine who works in broadcasting received a press release from the Titanic Museum Attraction and was kind enough to pass it along.  It states in part:

In James Cameron’s 1997 record-shattering movie “Titanic,” the character “Rose” – played by Kate Winslet – was the primary reason the movie is still regarded today as one of the most romantic films ever produced.  Titanic Museum Attraction’s own “Rose” will be making a special appearance in Pigeon Forge during Sweetheart Month.

Basically, they’re going to have someone on hand pretending to be the character from the movie.  It’s similar to those programs at non-attraction museums where you can chat with reenactors doing first-person Lincoln or Jefferson, except of course that Lincoln and Jefferson actually existed and neither of them (so far as I know) allowed Leonardo DiCaprio to draw him naked. 

The Museum Attraction also issues this invitation: “Celebrate your own love story with your Valentine on the Grand Staircase as you relive Rose’s on-screen Titanic romance.”  I might take them up on it.  It would be an appropriate venue for celebrating my love stories, a good many of which were catastrophes of a magnitude similar to the ship’s maiden voyage.

I think it’s safe to drop the “museum” and just stick with “attraction” now, guys.

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Filed under History and Memory

Pigeon Forge brings us historical interpretation at its finest

We all know that Pigeon Forge, TN is the hap-hap-happiest place around when it comes to learning about the past, don’t we? Well, it’s about to get even better, because I’ve got gobs of news here that’ll make every history enthusiast within two hundred miles of the Smokies start wetting their pants with excitement.

First up, check out what’s happening for the holidays over at a site this blog has featured before—the Titanic Museum Attraction: “Starting Saturday, November 13, it will snow – yes, REAL snow – at the Titanic every Friday and Saturday evening at 7:00pm through January 1, 2011.  The snow is part of the museum’s ‘Christmas in a Winter Wonderland,’ which is dedicated to honoring and celebrating the lives of the 2,208 passengers and crew of the Titanic.”

And we’re not talking cheap, second-rate snow here, either.  This snow equipment cost $150,000.  That’s not even counting the “additional $100,000 [that] will be spent on Christmas trees, lights and decorations that will decorate the interior and exterior of the Titanic Museum Attraction.”

This may be the best quarter million ever spent in the history of museum budgeting.  I’ll tell you what I’m doing for the holidays, ladies and gents. I’m driving to Pigeon Forge, where I can enjoy a frothing mug of egg nog while I watch artificially generated snow gently blanket a fake ship festooned with garlands and Christmas lights.

Perhaps I’ll make a second trip on January 22, when they’ll be hosting—I kid you not—the First Pigeon Forge Professional Ice Carving Competition.  I can’t think of a more appropriate way to commemorate the deaths of 1,517 people than by carting in a bunch of chainsaw-wielding artisans to fashion decorative shapes out of the very same substance that killed them.  Can you?

You’ll want to come back to Pigeon Forge in the spring so you can be first in line to buy tickets for the upcoming “Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud and Stunt Show.”  Now, maybe you’re thinking that a dinner theater/stunt show isn’t the best way to teach history.  Well, think again.  The visionaries behind this enterprise are making cultural edification a top priority:

The new production is scheduled to open in early Spring of next year, and will be loosely based on the true story of the famous Hatfield and McCoy feud.  The audience will be divided into the Hatfield and McCoy families by special seating areas.  The show will extend throughout the theater as the audience participates in the good natured rivalry.  Dangerous and comical stunts will be performed throughout the show to add a special excitement.  Singers, dancers, actors, musicians and specially trained stunt people will round out the cast.  As with all Fee/Hedrick shows, this new show will have a family friendly atmosphere with a focus on fun.

“Our area is rich with Appalachian heritage,” said theater co-owner David Fee.  “Mountain clans were a way of life here, and this show will showcase all that’s great about them!”

And just what is it that’s so great about mountain clans?  Well, being a native Appalachian myself, I can personally attest that “dangerous and comical stunts” are right at the top of the list.  Indeed, when my family gets together for any special occasion, we make a special point to engage in as many dangerous and comical stunts as possible.  Last Thanksgiving, for example, after we had all eaten our fill and hanged a member of the opposing clan with which we were feuding at the time, everyone adjourned to the backyard to watch as I climbed to the roof of my uncle’s house and (wearing nothing but a pair of leopard-skin underpants and a gigantic foam Yosemite Sam hat) shoved a fistful of lit bottle rockets into each nostril, took a running start, and leaped off to land in a kiddie pool filled entirely with creamed corn, which was positioned two stories below on the ground.

But I digress.  The news item continues:

The building, will undergo a multi-million dollar renovation and transform in appearance into two neighboring hillbilly style mountain homes complete with a decorative moonshine still and barnyard animal areas.  The theater lobby will also feature the largest moonshine still in the world – soon to be verified by the Guinness Book of World Records.  “The Moonshine Still will be an interactive learning center that highlights the history of the mountain people, but interjected with lots of humor”, says Hedrick. “Our customers will have a better understanding of everyday life back in the hills, while making them laugh at the same time!”

They will no doubt have a better understanding of everyday life back in the hills.  It’s no secret that negative Appalachian stereotypes and historical misperceptions are a ubiquitous problem, and the best way to inculcate an appreciation for the rich, subtle past of the mountain region is to have a feuding-themed theatrical production and then decorate the lobby with the biggest frocking moonshine still you can find.  In fact, it’s probably just a matter of time before the Cherokee Heritage Center commissions the world’s largest cigar store Indian statue, which they can put near their new Firewater Refreshment Stand and Me Take Heap Big Paleface Scalps Gift Shop.

My history buff nerve endings are just buzzing with anticipation.

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Filed under Appalachian History, History and Memory

Heavy on the “attraction,” light on the “museum”

It’s the anniversary of the Titanic‘s collision with an iceberg; she struck it near midnight and went down in the wee hours of the following morning.  Coincidentally, the newest addition to our roster of historical to-dos here in East Tennessee is a “Titanic museum attraction,” which opened about a week ago in Pigeon Forge. 

Pigeon Forge, TN is situated right in the Smokies, and is therefore quite thoroughly landlocked.  In fact, Pigeon Forge is probably the second-to-last place in the world where one would expect to find a “Titanic museum attraction.”  The very last would be Branson, MO, but they’ve already got one

From Wikimedia Commons

 

Those of us who are East Tennessee natives view Pigeon Forge the same way I’d imagine longtime Florida residents view Orlando.  (Incidentally, Orlando has a Titanic attraction, too, which is apparently unaffiliated with the Tennessee/Missouri outfit.  Titanic attractions are seemingly as plentiful as Waffle Houses; I might look into setting up a franchise here in my hometown.) 

If you took an idyllic setting on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and then filled it with mini-golf courses, outlet malls, go-cart tracks, country music theaters, bungee jump platforms, helicopter tours, dinosaur boat rides, Chinese acrobat shows, and souvenir shops; slapped a theme park named for Dolly Parton right smack in the middle; and then added the worst bumper-to-bumper traffic to be found outside of Los Angeles, then Pigeon Forge would be the result. 

Don’t get me wrong; you can have a very good time in Pigeon Forge.  I myself have spent many enjoyable hours there, although let me state right here and now that the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride is a complete and utter rip-off.  My point is that putting a museum in the middle of all that kitsch is sort of like hanging an original Rembrandt in a Las Vegas casino.  

It would be like building a museum in…well, Branson or Orlando. 

But it’s now been done, and not only that, but the master of ceremonies at the grand opening was—I kid you not—Regis Philbin.  This is the very man one would want to open a major museum, a man who positively oozes historical sensibility and scholarly gravitas, much like David McCullough or Daniel Boorstin. 

One thing the Branson Titanic has going for it that our Volunteer State version lacks is a pair of live spaniels.  The website promises that they will “star in our upcoming 2010 salute to the Dogs of Titanic, the world’s first tribute to the 10 dogs known to be on board.”  I’m surprised that we’ve gone nearly a century without a tribute to the dogs on the Titanic, but you know how it goes with historical commemoration and disfranchised minorities.  The spaniels have their own webcam, in fact, although they weren’t hanging around in their doggy suite when I checked in. 

It seems to me that the folks at the helm of this ship have left “museum” in their wake and are heading toward “attraction” at full steam.

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Filed under Museums and Historic Sites