Orlando's Titanic Ship of Dreams Exhibit


Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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Already, I am getting private inquiries into the 2004 Reenactment Tour at the Titanic Ship of Dreams permanent exhibit in Orlando. This is an annual event, and while I am not an employee of the museum, I have made the annual pilgrimage with a few ET members. This year I was honored and privileged to participate in the reenactment with the cast members. Here are the highlights:

The Titanic Ship of Dreams exhibit is a permanent museum in Orlando, just a couple of miles south of Universal Studios on International Drive (just south of Sand Lake Blvd). It's based in the Mercado International Center, which is a great place to hang out and enjoy the nightlife. TSOD is the centerpiece of the Mercado, of course, but there are also restaurants and stores and a Rock 'n' Roll museum, as well as an amphitheater with live entertainment.

The TSOD hosts a reenactment tour in the evening that is by invitation only. Contact Lisa Diaz at TSOD, to be placed on the reservation list at www.titanicshipofdreams.com Edwardian costumes are encouraged, but evening wear is fine. The tour begins outside the museum where the cast members will greet you and invite you into Thomas Andrews' office. Then you will be taken to the shipyards of Belfast, and finally to the loading dock of Southampton where you will board the magnificent ship! There you will be greeted by "Officer Shaving Cream" (inside joke - it's a white mannequin in a WSL officer's uniform) at the entrance to the First Class Accommodations. A large room full of historic items (this year included many items from Steve Santini's collection and Molly Brown's Egyptian talisman, brasswear, wooden items, many documents and letters, photographs, etc.) is where all the action begins. This large room is where the cast members will commence their colorful performances. Off to the side is the parlor of the Millionaire's Suite. Beyond that is the Cafe Parisien. Before long you find yourself in the Reception Room of the magnificent Grand Staircase (including the Glass Dome). Then you will follow the corridors past B-50 and B-52 and find yourself on "Scotland Road" where you will see the locked iron gate to the cargo areas that were off-limits to the Third Class Passengers. Want to see William Carter's Renault touring car? Follow me into the Cargo hold, but watch out for the watertight doors, which could close any minute! Whew! That was close - but not as close as being on the Bridge and seeing that iceberg looming ahead! My goodness! Touch it - it's so cold! Watch, now, as the Captain confers with his officers and Thomas Andrews. Hurry to the lifeboats! As you find yourself on the Promenade Deck, everything is as it was on the evening of April 14th. Oh, dear! The lifeboats are all gone and the davits are empty - nothing left but ropes dangling from the pulleys. It's so dark out on the ocean, you can't even see the boats. The stars hang in the sky just as they did on that fateful night. And it's so deathly cold on deck as you listen to the final testimonies of many of the passengers and crew.

Then you enter the somber hall where the rest of the story is told, followed by the Memorial where each name is listed. Check your Boarding Pass to see if you survived or perished. Beyond the Memorial are more rooms filled with historic memorabilia and a fabulous model by Stuart Williamson of the bow section's wreckage, just completed in time for the 2003 tour. Then a hallway is filled with huge images from Fr. Browne's collection of photographs.

The gift shop is your final stop - filled with wonderful, quality items. This is where you're going to need a LOT of cash! I guarantee you'll end up spending a small fortune. I do every year. Just when I think I have everything worth buying they find something new for me.

The La Quinta Hotel is across the street, and the accommodations couldn't enhance the overall Titanic experience any better! As you walk down the corridors, you feel as if you're strolling through the First Class Corridors to the cabins of JJ Astor or Molly Brown. They are appointed with an Edwardian decor reminiscent of Titanic's First Class from the carpeting to the lighting and the walls in between. Very nice, the rooms are small, but the bathrooms are very nice and large. Tiny closets. And the free continental breakfast is the best I've ever seen! Hot, freshly made Belgian waffles, bagels, cereals, fruits, etc. Lovely! There is a nice outdoor patio with tables when the weather is nice, but we found it to be a little chilly in the morning, in April.

So it's not too soon to plan for the trip. The airport is out of town, but most hotels have shuttles for a nominal fee, or you can rent a car at the airport, if you prefer. If you plan to stay longer, there are many places to visit besides Walt Disney World or Universal Studios or Sea World. Brochures are available at all hotels for interesting attractions.

Tampa Bay's Channelside (about an hour's drive west of Orlando) also hosts a Titanic cruise each year, if this is something you might be interested in. I haven't yet been on one but it's kind of expensive. I only learned about it last year after a visit to Busch Gardens the day before we went to Orlando. You can also take Victorian Hot Air Balloon rides in Tampa. Perhaps the traveling Titanic Artifact Exhibit will still be featured at the MOSI in Tampa in April? I'll have to find out more when I go there in October. Michael Tennaro may be able to add more information about the area's events and attractions. For those interested in the US Space Program, NASA and the Kennedy Space Center are only an hour's drive east of Orlando. This is also a fantastic place to tour, but plan to spend the whole day there in order to see everything.

That's about it. I hope you and many others will plan to come in 2004. Bring your cameras and plenty of film. The castmembers will accommodate you at the end of the tour for group photos on the Grand Staircase. I heard rumors of refreshments, but I was too busy meeting people and taking photographs, so I missed out on that.

All in all, it's an exciting experience every Titanic enthusiast should have. I encourage all of you to come if you can. I know other events are staged during that time as well in other parts of the world, but do try to come - just once in a lifetime you should stand on the Grand Staircase and feel the highly polished wood beneath your hand, and gaze at the Honor and Glory clock on the wall. See the brass cherub at the base of the banister, and walk those linoleum floors. Stare up at that fabulous glass dome above, and transport yourself to April, 1912. You know you want to, so why not do it?

All the best,
Kyrila Scully
 
Jun 8, 2002
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Hi, Kyrila!

Whew! What a great piece of marketing for what sounds like a superb reinactment experience! John Hemmert and his wife, Pat, were at a previous TSOD event--in costume--and gave it a very favorable report. They were my houseguests this weekend as part of a group who came to plan the displays at our "Titanic Texas Weekend", which I still hope you'll plan to attend.

Meanwhile, I'll try to figure out a way to attend the next TSOD evening!

Best regards,
Doug
 

Kyrila Scully

Member
Apr 15, 2001
2,079
6
168
South Florida
Sounds like a plan to me. If I can ever wade through all the tax forms for the NPO, I should have the time and funds to attend the TTW, so think good thoughts for me.

Bring the family! One of my friends dresses her husband and sons up in costume as second class passengers. Wish I had gotten some photos of them.

Kyrila
 

John Hemmert

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Oct 16, 2002
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Hi Kyrila!

I still VERY fondly remember our trip down to the TSOD exhibit that you & Sandra helped put together. Getting to meet you and see the exhibit was great!
I'm hoping my finances will straighten out enough to where we can go back again. Once was NOT enough!
If you can make the Salado gathering, PLEASE do attend! Doug has "pulled out all the stops", and it promises to be a "gala event"! (On top of that, you also have several beautiful costumes, and the ability to "act a part" and stay in character at an event. - Several of us will be in costume, as per our trip to TSOD.)

To anyone considering going to TSOD, I highly recommend it! The full sized displays that encompass entire rooms of the "Titanic" (Including the "Grand Staircase") are fantastic, and a visual feast.

Best regards!
John.
 

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