For Mother’s Day this year, we took a trip to Buena Park to visit TITANIC – THE EXPERIENCE because nothing says Mother’s Day like reliving the greatest and most memorable maritime disaster of the twentieth century.
My six-year-old daughter, Harper, has become OBSESSED with the TITANIC thanks to one evening she spent with her father.
While I was hanging out with friends, Erin and Harper stayed home.
As I headed out the door for my night out, Erin and I had this conversation:
Erin: I’m gonna make mac and cheese and I think Harp and I will watch a movie.
Me (rushing to get out of the house): Great. Do whatever.
Erin: I’m sick of watching kids movies. I think she’s ready for something else. What could we watch?
Me: I’m in a hurry and I don’t want to make that decision. Turn on Netflix. She likes Jumanji.
Erin: I’m sick of watching Jumanji…
Me (trying to apply makup without having a conversation): I don’t want to be part of this decision. You guys figure it out.
Erin: I kinda want to watch JAWS.
Me: What?!?!? Are you kidding me? No. She’s way to young for that. There are shark attacks in it. She’ll be afraid to go to the beach.
Erin: She can watch something that’s PG, right? I’m here… I’m a parent, I can guide her through the movie…
Me: I don’t want to hear a lecture about what PG is…. You’re giving me too much information right now. Don’t destroy her mind while I’m out…
When I got in from one of the best evenings I’d had in awhile with my lady-friends… Erin was playing GTAV on the couch and Harper was in bed.
Me: What’d you guys end up watching?
Erin: I found a classic. We watched TITANIC.
Me: YOU WATCHED WHAT?!?!?!
Erin: Don’t worry… I fast forwarded through all the naked parts.
Me: Did you fast forward through all the parts of death and drowning?
Erin: It didn’t scare her… She seemed interested. It’s historical.
Me: Historical? Schindler’s List is historical… I don’t want to wake up with a million questions from her about death by drowning…. If she wakes up in the middle of the night, you have to deal with it.
The next morning… Harper was up bright and early talking my ear off about the TITANIC. “There weren’t enough life boats,” she told me. “Those guys in First Class just kept playing their violins until the ship cracked in half and everyone slid off and died… It’s the best movie I’ve ever seen…”
This is how we ended up at the TITANIC EXHIBIT for Mother’s Day… A semi-permanent museum, built where the Movieland Wax Museum used to be… A titanic event in it’s own right…
After a delightful brunch that included a strawberry martini for me…
And also… The coolest gift ever of a STAR WARS Mother’s Day shirt….
We went to the exhibit.
When you first enter… TITANIC: THE EXPERIENCE… You get the opportunity to have your picture taken in front of a green screen…
Looks pretty scary… Doesn’t it? I get cold just looking at this thing. Over a thousand people drowned and/or froze to death in the icy waters of the Atlantic that horrible night of April 15th.
This is how we remember them.
Clearly, we as a society, are totally over it.
When we began our experience, we were greeted by a woman dressed as a chamber maid…
She spoke with a soft Irish accent and introduced herself as “Molly,” which is, I think, the name of all Irish chamber maids.
She then, handed us each a boarding pass that had a name on it.
“This is yer ticket to board the Titanic, ya see?” she whispered. “Each of ya has the name of a passenger… At the end, you’ll learn the fate of yer passenger.”
Harper was a young nun in third class.
I was to play the role of a 45-year-old woman with three kids (Jurassic Mom) who was also in Third Class.
Meanwhile… Erin drew a National Dog Show Judge riding in First Class.
I think we all know who will be the survivor on this ship…
With that… We boarded the ghost ship.
The exhibit is quite interesting and it contains lots of dishes, sinks, china cabinets, even an uncorked champagne bottle that has been carefully brought to the surface from the wreckage.
A first-class ticket on the Titanic cost the equivalent of a hundred grand in that era… Nowadays, for about two-thousand bucks, you can get an all-you-can-eat Midnight Nacho Buffet, a trashy magic act, and half-priced rum punches on the Lido Deck… All thanks to the Titanic…
Back then, though, the high price promised First Class passengers private bathrooms, fine cigars, and the assurance that not even “GOD himself could sink that vessel.”
Welp… Two out of three aint bad.
The passengers would all laugh maniacally, as they toasted their Brandy snifters and said things like… “HA HA HA!!! Nothing will sink us!”
“Die here? Dressed like this??? Puh-leez!” they would shout while they ate oxen tail soup off china later found at the bottom of the Atlantic.
When the captain got word that they would be traveling through icy waters, they all gleefully shouted!!!
“YAHOO!!!! Let’s see how fast this thing will go!”
Then… They hit the iceberg and died.
Ha. Ha. Joke’s on you, Richie Rich.
In an effort to prove how cold the water actually was that fateful night… There is a large block of ice in the shape of an iceberg… When I touched it, I thought as they must’ve thought that very night… “Wow. It’s really cold.”
And then I thought… Ugh… Think of all the people that have touched this thing… It’s one thing to die in the middle of the Atlantic, it’s another thing to catch the flu from some snotty nosed brat from Pomona.
I walked away somberly hoping they sold Titanic hand sanitizer in the gift shop.
At one point, a man dressed as The Captain walked through and said to me and Harper… “Good day, Ladies. I hope you are enjoying the Titanic.”
I leaned into Harper after he left and said… “That was a ghost.”
“No it wasn’t,” she said, unaffected and annoyed.
Then, a voice came over the speaker…”BOARD THE LIFEBOATS,” the monotone and ghostly voice instructed us.
Erin, Harper, and I all three got in a lone wooden boat in a large black room with a screen in front and a picture of a sinking TITANIC.
Molly, the Irish chamber maid from the beginning, reappeared.
“Imagine if ya will… sitting alone in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean…” she whispered in the low but serious tenor of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun…
“To yer right is darkness… To yer left, nothing… Ya huddle together helpless, but fer the strangers around ya… None of ya knows yer fate… In three hours the Titanic will sink.”
Molly got worked up talking about it… And I nodded my head and kept a somber expression, to show my support of her dramatic reliving of the downed ship.
At the end of her monologue, she just looked at us silently as we heard the sound of the dark ocean….
Whoosh…. Whoosh… Whoosh…
We stared at one another in the dark.
Whoosh… Whoosh… Whoosh…
“Wow,” I said, finally breaking the silence because it felt weird staring at Molly like that. “It was a really terrible tragedy, wasn’t it?”
Molly didn’t answer my question.
Instead, she looked toward the door.
“Ya can go now,” she told us. “Find out the fate of yer passengers.”
As we entered the next room, I could faintly hear the voice on the speaker… “BOARD THE LIFEBOATS,” it said… Then Molly’s Lucky Charms accent… “Imagine if ya will… sitting alone in a lifeboat…”
In the final room was a wall, with the names of our passengers listed.
Erin… The First Class Dog Show Judge… lived, of course… Shoving his way past throngs of women and children to get his old butt on a lifeboat…
Harper and I… weren’t quite so lucky.
“We’re both dead in the water,” I said to Harper.
Though Harper had appeared emotionless throughout the exhibit, when she heard the fate of her passenger, she looked disturbed and like she might cry…
I looked over at Erin and said… “Um… Maybe I read it wrong.”
“Yes,” Erin lied… And then looked up and down closely as if scanning the wall…”Right, Harper… Mom didn’t read it right. No… No… The nun didn’t die. You lived. Just like me, the Dog Show Judge… We both survived!”
Harper jumped up-and-down and shouted at the news, the two of them high-fiving. “Yay!” she said. “Me and Dad both lived! Only you died, Mom! I lived!!! The nun and the Dog Show Judge lived!!!”
And with that… she wished me a Happy Mother’s Day and we headed back to LA.
Look… You can listen to me ramble all day long about the power of the Titanic Experience… But nothing I could say would mean as much as this short film about our time there and the impact it had on our mortal souls: