Before the “Twilight” movie series craze with Team Jacob and Team Edward, everyone was crazy about Team Jack – as in Jack and Rose from James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster hit, “Titanic.” I remember being a sophomore in high school, completely smitten with the love story between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s fictional characters. While the movie was three hours long, my mom and I still went to the theaters more than once!
But we all know it was more than just a romantic tale. Though this unfortunate event happened on April 15, 1912, the tragic sinking of RMS Titanic still resonates in our minds. Even 100 years later, the legacy lives on strong.
With an elaborate exhibit, as well as a towering replica of the famous ship in the city’s longest running production show, Las Vegas memorializes the RMS Titanic not just for the centennial anniversary, but year-round.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition commemorates the 100th anniversary of RMS Titanic’s launch and eventual sinking on Tuesday, April 10 at 11 a.m. with a special candlelit vigil on the atrium level at Luxor. Fourth and fifth graders from Griffith Elementary School will participate by holding the candles. There will also be a moment of silence to honor those who suffered or were lost in the sinking.
“A lot of Titanic followers have been calling to check what’s in store for the 100th year anniversary,” said general manager Christie Tecson. “This is a celebration of the preservation of the legacy that is Titanic. The candlelight vigil is our way of solemnly commemorating the centennial year of the tragedy.”
Before the vigil, Tom Goldsmith, descendant of survivor Frank John William Goldsmith, brings the story to life. He will speak of the legacy of RMS Titanic and how his grandfather was nine years old when he boarded the ship.
Vice President of Collections for Premier Exhibitions and RMS Titanic, Inc. Alex Klingelhofer will share her knowledge of the Titanic artifacts, seen in cities worldwide. In addition, one of the students will read an essay on why the story of Titanic has remained popular around the world.
“The public is more than welcome to come and listen to the speakers and gather around the children as they hold their candles,” Tecson said.
If you haven’t visited Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition yet, now’s your chance. Showcasing more than 300 artifacts, including a replica of the ship and the famous Grand Staircase (pictured above), there’s plenty to explore and admire. These include passenger papers, sparkling jewels, china, silverware, currency and much more.
You’ll see the stunning Big Piece, the largest Titanic artifact ever retrieved. This remnant weighs an astounding 15 tons.
While it’s a replica, one of my personal favorites inside the exhibit is the Grand Staircase. When I walk down the steps, I feel like Rose from the scene in “Titanic.” The staircase is where first-class passengers met, mingled and admired each other’s attire.
“The Grand Staircase always seems to be a favorite amongst visitors,” said Tecson. “It really brings to life the Titanic and what it was like to be on board as a first-class passenger.”
The staff will take your picture here. Photos are available for purchase at the end of the tour.
The iceberg replica is another “cool” element. It contains its own cooling system to prevent it from melting. And yes, you’re allowed to touch it. “Guests love the iceberg,” she said. “You feel how cold the water was on the night the Titanic sank.”
Even if you’re not a history buff, taking a stroll through this attraction will leave you with a greater appreciation for Titanic.
“Titanic remained popular because every single guest that walks through the exhibit – whether it’s their first time or they’ve seen it before – were touched and amazed by the stories,” Tecson said. “The artifacts enhance the guest experience. It retells the story in a compelling manner by [reliving] the history and people of the Titanic.”
Luxor isn’t the only location where you can commemorate the ship. If you’re thinking of watching a production show on the Strip, “Jubilee!” at Bally’s features a stunning selection of historical props.
We know what you’re thinking, but “Jubilee!” is much more than a topless revue. In fact, it includes an exact replica of the Titanic in its show. (On a side note, there is an earlier show available that’s kid-friendly if you want to take the young ones.)
Since 1981, “Jubilee!,” the longest-running show on the Strip, has sunk an exact replica of the Titanic ship two times a night, six days a week. The scene captures the nostalgia of old Las Vegas shows, as well as sharing a piece of history.
“Titanic seems to have always been around – in movies, in discoveries, the ship, things like that,” said Diane Palm, the show’s company manager. “It was such a huge ship and such a tragedy. It’s interesting to this day.”
Palm recalls seeing the ship when she was a showgirl 30 years ago.
“We were in rehearsal – it was pretty exciting when we were able to see all of it,” she said. “We watched the whole sequence unfold. It was just amazing, that [it] was able to be re-created on stage. You felt like you were watching something that was part of a movie, but happening right in front of you. It was so realistic. It was amazing to see that could be re-created on the stage.”
This is all possible with a combination of hydraulic and motorized single and double decked elevators traveling at five different speeds. For the Titanic ship, it takes nine stagehands to move the ship to the elevators. For easier accessibility, the ship has wheels on the bottom, which help it tilt and slide.
“It’s very dramatic,” she said. “It’s the overall effect of when you actually see the ship on stage sinking. The illusion on stage is pretty amazing. The audience is usually very quiet for a few seconds after. They’re taking it all in. Then people start to applaud just because it’s so impressive.”
Even after 30 years, Palm said the Titanic holds a lasting impression. “I always found it a fascinating subject,” she said. “It’s interesting it still says in the forefront of people’s minds.”