Branson, Missouri is well known for live music shows, entertainment, amusement parks and other fun family activities, but it’s also home to a unique, world class attraction – The Titanic Museum.
When you think of the Titanic, you might think of the sinking ship or the blockbuster movie with Leonardo DeCaprio and Kate Winslet, but one thing that probably doesn’t first come to mind is an Ozark Mountain town in southern Missouri.
As you drive down “the strip” (3235 W. 76 Country Blvd.) in Branson Missouri, it’s hard to miss the giant ship, Titanic, sitting on the side of a major highway among hotels, shopping centers and other tourist attractions.
The ship is more than just a roadside attraction. It’s home to the Titanic Museum.
In it’s day, the Titanic was the largest passenger ship afloat. The recreated Missouri mock up version is built only roughly half the size of the actual Titanic, yet it’s still incredibly huge, standing over 100 feet tall. In fact, the Titanic museum claims to be the world’s largest museum attraction!
Even if you’re not a history buff, the sheer size of this sight is more than enough to beckon you inside to find out what this place is about, and what you’ll find is beyond any of your expectations.
After you purchase your admission ticket you receive a boarding pass.
The museum staff goes all out to make you feel as if you were actually getting ready to venture out to sea. You’re given a boarding pass showing the name of an actual Titanic passenger. The back of the pass details personal information about the person, including whether they were a first, second or third class passenger.
It’s interesting and fun until you realize the slightly morbid part…
At the completion of the tour, you check your given name on a memorial wall to see if you lived, or died. Sadly, more than 1,500 of the 2,200+ passengers died when the real ship went down in the North Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland on April 15th, 1912. As such, the odds of me having a winning ticket on this cruise weren’t great.
Despite the odd feelings of wondering if you’ll live or die, it actually engages you even deeper into what you see and experience on the self guided tour.
To say the museum is amazing is an understatement. It contains over 400 actual Titanic artifacts in addition to many photos and interactive exhibits spread out over 20 galleries.
You can see how it feels to shovel coal into the ship’s boiler, you can touch an iceberg and you can experience how it would feel to be immersed in 28 degree water (hint: it’s REALLY cold).
You can experience the feeling of what it was like on the deck of the ship as it was sinking at various angles. You can send a Morse code SOS signal and you can stand on the bridge to steer the ship’s wheel.
You learn not just about the ship sinking and the people on it, but also what it took to build it, and the search to find it 12,500 feet below the surface on the sea floor.
What I found most impressive is the exact replica of the ship’s beautiful grand staircase. Standing at the top of the stairs I felt I was transported back in time. The ornate detail and craftsmanship on the Titanic was nothing short of unbelievable.
You experience not just the history, but also the feelings behind the stories.
Note: I would’ve put many more pictures with this article, but photography is prohibited inside the museum.
As the tour ended, it was time to check my fate.
I stood at the memorial wall with a few other people around me. We all looked curiously at the names. Little kids were jumping up and down saying “I survived”. Unfortunately, I (and the poor soul who’s name I had) didn’t survive. I was a left with a somber feeling before heading out to the gift shop to rebuild my spirits with assorted trinkets.
Having the name of a passenger who died and knowing something about them adds a personal connection which allows the memory of those who died so tragically to live on. Not many museums can give you an experience like this.
Even though it was a very educational visit, it was truly fun, and not anything like what I expected it to be when I first arrived there. The museum achieved it’s goal of engaging, educating and of course, entertaining, because that’s what Branson is known for.
If you’re ever in Branson, I would highly recommend a visit. The Titanic museum is very family friendly and appropriate for all ages. Ticket prices vary, but discounts are usually available at various locations around Branson. Expect to spend at least a couple of hours there, as you move through the museum at your own pace.
If you’ve been there, leave a comment to let me know what you thought about it.
Written by Marty