Earlier this month, the Bodies Exhibition and Titanic – The Experience opened at the site of the former Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park, right next door to Knott’s Berry Farm. I had seen the Titanic exhibit before when it first opened in L.A., and it was cool but I was too young to really know that it was more than a history exhibit. Now it is back in the L.A. area (about 20 minutes from L.A. proper in Buena Park, Orange County) on a permanent basis and at 23 years of age (with a wealth of knowledge on Titanic acquired over the last several years), this exhibit is more impactful than it was when I was 13.
Not only is it awesome to see these artifacts and know what they mean but it is impressive to stand in the hallways of the ship herself, reconstructed in the exhibit with extreme attention to detail. This is a new feature that I do not remember from when it was here in 2003. The first class guest room is reconstructed, along with a third class stateroom. First and third class hallways and various other aspects of the ship, including lifeboat layouts and a boiler room set with watertight doors, have also been recreated. Towards the end, they have even reconstructed the seabed where these artifacts were found, with photographs of the artifacts in situ (in place where they were found at the bottom of the North Atlantic) displayed next to the artifact itself, cleaned up and on display. There are interactive parts of the exhibit, with passengers and crew members of the Titanic portrayed by actors who will shepherd you through the exhibit, adding bits of information not found in the cases, giving a realistic view of their lives aboard the ship.
Upon entry, each guest is given a boarding pass with a name and information of an actual passenger aboard the Titanic. Throughout the exhibit (depending on the passenger and how much is known about them) guests will learn about their person and at the end, where a wall lists names of all those souls aboard and whether they were saved or lost, guests can find the fate of their passenger before exiting through the gift shop.
This exhibition is moving and powerful. Be sure to brush up on your overall history of Titanic before you go in – it really does make a difference. The basics are on the walls in each room, but the deeper your knowledge of the Titanic, the more effective it will be.
Check out our write up on the history of the Titanic on the occasion of the 101st anniversary of her sinking (way back in Issue 1 of True Believer) to get the info, and then head out to Premiere Exhibition Space in Buena Park for their “Titanic – The Experience” exhibit, as well as “Bodies … The Exhibition.”