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Titanic Visitor Center Opens to Masses
April 1, 2012

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The Titanic rises and falls in a new tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.

The Titanic Belfast visitor center celebrates the city where the gigantic ocean liner was built, from 1909 to 1911, and launched for sea trials on April 2, 1912. The ship set sail on its last voyage from Southampton on April 11.

The visitor center is stuffed full of period pieces, including a tour of three floors' worth of recreation of the shipyards that made the ship. (In true 21st Century fashion, this tour is delivered via a roller coaster-like ride.)

Also sure to please is a recreation of the cabins onboard: first class, second class, and third class. Computerized images featuring fictional passengers show these cabins in realistic detail, as does a four-minute CGI tour of the big boat itself, detailing all of the floors, from the engine room to the very top of the ship.

Tourists wend their way through the visitor tour in roughly chronological order, so the creation and history of the ship, including wall after wall of posters, chart, and documents showing the smallest details about the ship, its construction, and its passengers is soon followed by the disaster that befell the famous ocean liner. Visitors can reread the wireless messages sent from the sinking ship, all in a room that simulates what it would have been like aboard the fated ship.

Then, it's on to the results of the disaster. Visitors can find out more about the people who died, as well as those who lived, through reading and hearing testimony from inquests by both American and British authorities. Touch-screen displays have all this information.

Lastly, it's trivia time, with a few computers devoted to true-or-false questions based on what visitors have just experienced, as well as avenues for further study.

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