“ The Mercado / 8445 International Drive / Orlando / Florida 32819 / Tel: (407) 248-1166, ext. 3110. „
When it came to deciding what things we wanted to do while in Orlando, I came up with most of the list. My husband wasn't too bothered apart from the obvious theme parks but he did want to go to Titanic: The Experience as it is something he is quite interested in.
== Location ==
Titanic: The Experience can be found at 7342 International Drive. International Drive has plenty of bus stops and its own I-Ride Trolley mode of transport so this attraction is extremely easy to get to. You'll need to get the red line to stop 13 which will drop you off right outside.
If you're driving, there is a small car park outside the building but it is also shared with other attractions such as the CSI experience. However, when we arrived, the car park was pretty empty so I doubt you would have too much trouble getting a space.
== Tickets ==
Tickets can be purchased either online or as you arrive at the experience. You'll find that you can save a couple of dollars by booking online or try to get a leaflet from the I-Ride trolleys for a discount coupon on the day. You won't save a lot but every little helps.
Ticket prices (walk in/ online)
Adult - $21.95/ $19.95
Children (3-11) - $12.95/ $10.95
2 & Under - Free
Senior- $19.75/ $17.75
== The Experience ==
As we walked into the building and up to the ticket desk, we were given two paper tickets with names and classes on them. Each person gets to pretend that they're someone who was on the Titanic at the time which I thought was a really nice way to start off. Throughout the experience, there are places where you can look up who survived and who didn't, and you can obviously match this to your own ticket to see what would have happened to you. I thought it was quite funny that I was part of the best class while my husband was a lot lower down than me.
Apparently, this is supposed to be a guided tour led by actors in periodic costumes. However, we didn't get that at all. We were left to wander through by ourselves and only told that we were not allowed to take any pictures. So, we began to wander through the first couple of rooms and I have to say, I was not impressed at all. There were quite a lot of paper clippings from the day the Titanic set sale, which was interesting enough but at this point, there was nothing that really grabbed my attention.
Throughout the experience, you can find artefacts from the Titanic. I did really enjoy looking at all the little bits and pieces which included things like cutlery, plates, postcards etc. It was interesting to see the different kinds of items from each class and to see just how different the living conditions would have been. Again though, I was also disappointed. Not everything here is actually from the Titanic. Instead, a lot of what you will see comes from a sister ship that sailed at the same time and would have had the same things as the Titanic. I paid $20 for my ticket and I didn't pay that to see things from a ship I had never heard of.
The best things about the experience are the recreated rooms etc. You can see a full scale recreations of the grand staircase, a first class cabin and also the Verandah Café. The grand staircase was actually fantastic and it looked as though it came from the film. It was nice to be able to see something that would have been on the Titanic and somewhere that a lot of people would have walked down. Photo opportunities are available at the grand staircase so at least you are able to get a photo while you're here. They do cost around $15 each though.
Towards the end of the experience is where it gets more interesting. Here, there is the second largest piece recovered from the Titanic which was massive. I can't actually remember what part of the ship it came from though which is unfortunate. There is also a sheet of ice that you are able to put your hand prints on. This shows how cold it would have been when passengers hit the water and it makes it possible to think about what they went through while trying to survive.
After the experience and to the left of the ticket desk is a small gift shop. This is where you can pick up and pay for your photos. They also sell the usual things like t-shirts, shot glasses and mugs although if you have a fair bit of money, you can buy jewellery and lovely sets of plates. The gift shop wasn't all that great but then again, what else can they really sell.
== Overall ==
I wasn't the biggest fan of Titanic: The Experience. While there were a couple of good things to look at, too much of it was not from the Titanic itself. I was disappointed that we did not get the tour and it would have been nice to have things explained to us. For the entrance fee, this is not worth it at all.
Titanic Expedition , we visited on our first holiday to Florida in 2006 , as we had purchased the go orlando card and with this we gained entry for free.
My mother in law is a big fan of all things to do with Titanic , so she was looking forward to it immensely.
On arrival we were told as part of the experience we would be given an new identity of someone who was on the Titanic , we were given our tickets and got on the ship.
The "ship" was wonderful , and the experience was a very extensive tour of the Titanic it was around 45 minutes long , and had lots of items that was retrieved from the ship for you to look at , there was also pictures of the frightful day of the people boarding.
At the end you had the chance to look up you name on the wall to see if you survived. I had unfornately had not survived but my husband character had.
We enjoyed this expedition that much that when we went back again the next year we wanted to go on again, just find that it had shut down we very upset as we thought it was an excellent expedition. We have since been told that it has been reopened somewhere elsewhere but we are not sure where.
For many years now, even before the film came out, I have had an interest in the history of the Titanic and its fateful maiden voyage. So imagine how excited I was when we visited Florida and discovered that not every attraction there involved overgrown mice. On International Drive, very close to our hotel, there was an exhibition entitled Titanic - the Experience.
Despite the fact that my husband and the children had absolutely no interest in the Titanic whatsoever, I persuaded (ok, nagged!) them into taking a break from theme parks and visiting the attraction.
The whole experience begins with the ticket purchase. Obviously, I hear you say, but this is no ordinary ticket purchase. Each visitor is given a ticket that is a replica of a ticket that a Titanic passenger would have had, bearing the name of someone who actually travelled on the ship. My husband became WT Stead, novelist and spiritualist and co-incidentally one-time editor of our local newspaper, I became Violet Jessop, a stewardess working on the ship (typical!) and my son became Michael Hoffman, a small child who had been snatched from his mother by his father - an early tug-of-love case. I can't actually remember the name my daughter was given, but I do recall she was very pleased by the fact that it was a teenage girl.
After buying the tickets we then progressed to the attraction entrance, where there were several people already waiting. The interactive tour runs every hour, on the hour and bang on time we were greeted by our tour guide.
The Titanic Experience employs actors who take on the role of a person who is in someway connected to the Titanic history. I have heard of people who were escorted by some of the more famous characters, such as Captain Edward Smith and the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, but we had someone who supposedly was one of the ship-builders. All of the actors are in period costume and talk in character the whole time. As we passed through the entrance the character took our tickets and told us little snippets of information about the person whose ticket we held.
The tour itself is in chronological order, beginning with videos of the ship-building process, then it goes through a number of different scenes, including the very grand first class staircase, made famous in the Titanic film. We were told that you are able to get married upon this staircase, which I thought was a nice idea but my husband thought would be very tacky. Along the way we saw scenes from storage areas, heard a lot of statistics, facts and anecdotes, looked at pictures, menus and actual items that had been aboard the doomed vessel. This was quite interesting for all of us, but might have been more so if many of the scenes and exhibits hadn't been roped off which made it difficult to inspect anything very closely.
The children especially enjoyed the more interactive parts of the museum, including a huge wall of ice that the guide challenged us to see how long we could keep our hands on the ice. It wasn't very long at all and it really made you think how cold it must have been on the sinking ship. Another part of the museum was designed to look like a replica of the outside deck of the ship, complete with twinkling stars and absolutely freezing!
Towards the end of the tour our guide revealed his own story; that he was a worker involved in the construction of the ship, who had been crushed to death and lay dying while the owners of the ship held a pre-sailing celebration. It's not a story that I've read before in any book about the Titanic (and I've read a few!) but I have no reason to believe it couldn't have been true. In his own words he was the first, but certainly not the last victim of the Titanic and it added to the pathos of the exhibition.
Finally, at the end of the tour was a giant wall bearing the names of all who sailed on the Titanic, where the names of those who survived were lit up and you could find the name on your ticket to see if your character survived or not. As you would expect, as women and children, the characters of myself and my children survived but that of my husband didn't which did disgruntle him somewhat!
The tour itself was very well done and even though my family had no real interest beforehand they did enjoy themselves and learned something. My daughter, who was six at the time, developed quite an interest in the story which she has retained three years later as, when I said I was writing a review on the Titanic Experience she said "Ooh, I want to go back there!"
One small downside is the cost of the exhibition. The website gives current prices as
ADULTS $19.95 + TAX
CHILDREN (3-11) $12.95 + TAX
SENIORS (55+) $18.95 + TAX
which makes it a quite expensive tour when you consider that it is over in one hour.
It is probably worth mentioning that in looking at the website for this attraction it appears that it has closed down and been reopened in a different building on International Drive. It also appears that it has been extended and now claims to include a new "Interactive Dive Area" and Captain's Bridge.
Overall, I would say this is a must visit for anyone with an interest in the history of the Titanic but can be equally interesting to others and a welcome break from the theme parks!