Plans to recreate the sinking of the Titanic as part of a new theme park in China have been abandoned after protests by the relatives of those who died.
A life-size reconstruction of the “unsinkable” liner is being built as a hotel for visitors to the theme park in Sichuan province.
The attraction was intended to include an “iceberg experience” to allow visitors to experience the moment on April 15, 1912, when the world’s largest ocean liner sank in the Atlantic on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.
The idea was dropped after complaints that it would be in bad taste. Relatives of victims spoke out at the annual meeting of the British Titanic Society in Southampton at the weekend, The Times reported.
Among those attending the event was Shaojun Su, the founder of the £1.2 billion Romandisea theme park.
He said in 2014 that he wanted people to know what it would have felt like on the ship. “We will let people experience water coming in using sound and light effects, and LED light effects,” he had said. “They will think, ‘The water will drown me. I must escape for my life.’”
The 296m replica will be free floating and as close a replica as the Chinese can build.
Bruce Beveridge, the US author of a two-volume book on the Titanic and head of the design team, said: “We’ll even have the correct urinals in the men’s rooms.”
Beveridge said that he had come on board only after the theme park’s bosses agreed to drop the idea of the iceberg attraction.
He said: “It was shelved back in January when they hired me as design supervisor. I told them, ‘Do not do this, it’s in bad taste.’ ”
The Yongle Seven Star Cultural Tourism Development Company hopes that the attraction, which will include a replica of part of Venice, will open in 2019.
It is intended to be the world’s most advanced theme park, with an “artificial sky” beneath which the sun will always shine.
The Titanic replica will be the centrepiece, with visitors staying in recreated cabins, albeit with modern amenities including Wi-Fi and televisions hidden behind sliding panels.
The design team is touring Britain gathering information. They will visit a steam museum in Kew to look at an engine and the White Swan Hotel, in Alnwick, Northumberland, which has the first-class lounge salvaged from Titanic’s twin ship, Olympic.
David Scott-Beddard, of the BTS, said the Chinese had not realised the attraction might cause offence. The tragedy was overshadowed for many of them by the 1997 film, he said.
Robert Burr, whose grandfather was a steward and among the 1,500 passengers and crew who lost their lives, told the BBC that the project had been in bad taste. “It doesn’t suit the situation,” he said.
Jean Legg, whose father Sidney Daniels was an 18-year-old steward who survived the sinking, said: “My dad lived to be nearly 90 and the sights and sounds of people fighting for their lives stayed with him to the end of his days. If he knew this was being replicated, I think he’d be turning in his grave. I find it very upsetting, it’s in poor taste.”
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