Last year, I saw Titanic for the first time, and it blew me away. After buying my own DVD copy of Titanic and watching it a few hundred times, I wanted to learn more about the RMSTitanic. I began researching museums that I could visit that were centered on the Titanic. I found a place in Orlando, Florida called “Titanic: The Experience” that claimed to be “the World's Largest Titanic Exhibit.” After visiting the website and looking at its pictures, I made visiting “Titanic: The Experience” my top vacation priority. Luckily for me, my opportunity to see a replica of Titanic’s Grand Staircase arrived. My parents decided that we would travel to Florida during spring break and stay at my grandparents’ Florida home. Our plan for the vacation was to relax and enjoy the attractions in Orlando besides the major theme parks that we had visited so many times before.
Monday, April 18, 2011 finally arrived, and I left with my mother for the Titanic museum. Finding “Titanic: The Experience” along International Drive was easy because it had a huge mural of the ship displayed in the front, making me very excited to see the inside. Walking into the lobby, I felt slightly disappointed; the walls were bare and the only items in the room were Titanic themed key chains and postcards. My confidence in the museum was restored when I spotted the cashier dressed in accurate period clothing composed of a bowler hat, a waist coat, and a pair of trousers. The cashier gave my mother and me identities after purchasing our tickets. We became women who were actual passengers on the Titanic. My new identity was a first-class passenger by the name of Marian Longstreth Morris Thayer, and my mother’s new identity was Miss Amy Zillah Elsie Stanley, a third-class passenger.
Our tour began soon after purchasing our tickets. Our tour guide was in character and introduced himself as a first-class Titanic passenger. He showed us through a series of rooms, starting with the building of the Titanic, a typical first-class parlor suite, the engine and broiler room, the dining room, the first-class deck, and finally, the Grand Staircase. The Grand Staircase was exquisite and the most memorable room, featuring the exact details in its structure and woodwork as the staircase in the actual Titanic. Each room featured authentic artifacts and replicas. The tour finished with a look at the Titanic’s memorial wall, which listed the names of all of Titanic’s passengers sorted by class. We were instructed to look for the name of our identity on the memorial wall to learn whether that passenger had lived or died on the night of April 15, 1912. I was relieved to discover that Mrs. Thayer had survived, but other passengers were not so lucky. Hearing other guests whisper to each other that the passenger they were portraying did not survive made the tragedy of the Titanic more real. The identity I was holding in my hand was an actual Titanic passenger, and I could not help reflecting on the horrific event Titanic’s passengers experienced. Before visiting “Titanic: The Experience,” I considered myself an expert on Titanic, but after touching an iceberg with a temperature equivalent to that of the water the passengers plunged into on the night of the sinking, hearing the account from my tour guide, and embodying an actual passenger made me realize that there is so much more to Titanic than knowing the facts of its sinking.
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