By Dave Woods
BRANSON, Mo. —
Sherry Hansch brought three generations of her family to Titanic last weekend. It wasn’t her first time onboard Branson’s ship-shaped museum and attraction.
“Our granddaughter wanted to see the displays, so we brought her to see it,” said the 62-year-old grandmother from Lenexa, Kan. “We love the addition of the Fantasy Princess. She adds a nice sparkle. She wasn’t here the last time we came.”
Sierra Hartman, 15, Hansch’s granddaughter, was surprised to meet the attraction’s latest interactive feature face to face.
“It’s every little girl’s dreams to be a princess,” said the 15-year-old from Lee’s Summit. “It was good. I have always watched princess movies.”
Sierra’s mother, Trisha Hartman, admitted that she enjoyed interacting with Princess Carina.
“She was pretty, and I liked her shoes,” the 42-year-old said about Carina’s 6-inch silver, glittering high heels. “I was more tomboy than princess growing up.”
Sarah Dunkle, Hartman’s future daughter-in-law, has a special interest in Princess Carina. Dunkle is planning a princess wedding and will wear a princess dress for her nuptials.
“Of course, you have to love a princess,” said the 23-year-old. “They have the sparkles and the glitter and the glam.”
She understands her future family’s attraction to Titanic and likes the young royal’s appeal.
“It’s what (princesses) get to wear and what they get to do. It’s the lifestyle,” she said. “All glitz and glamor.”
Steve Hansch, Sherry’s 34-year-old son, may have been most smitten with Titanic’s Fantasy Princess.
“She is beautiful and kind,” he said. “It’s nice to see her. I got a wish in her heart now, and that’s beautiful.”
Royal back story
Wednesdays through Sundays until Dec. 30, Titanic’s Fantasy Princess, Carina, will greet guests from around the world and offer advice on the proper ways to curtsey, bow and conduct themselves like royalty.
Jamie Terrell, a Titanic crew member of more than five years, said she was excited to have the princess come to Branson. She serves as a lady-in-waiting to the princess, escorting her around the grounds, fluffing her royal gown and introducing her to passengers. She tells the princess’ story and explains her fantasy mission along the way.
“It’s a very special thing to have her with us,” she said. “We have lots of little princesses and noblemen of all ages who come to see Princess Carina. She will come up to them, speak their name and let them know that, if they have a wish, she will hear it and keep their wish in her heart — safe and true forever.”
Terrell explains the princess’s role to hundreds daily.
“Titanic was sailing with more than 2,200 passengers onboard to America,” she said. “They all had hopes and wishes. Titanic was the ship of dreams. What happened to all of the wishes of all of the people of Titanic?”
That would leave any princess with a heavy heart more than 100 years following the great ship’s voyage. That’s a lot of wishes, and Princess Carina needed a getaway.
“Princess Carina’s heart began to get so full of wishes,” Terrell said. “She heard there was another Titanic in Branson, and she decided to come here and be with us during the holiday. Now, she keeps all those wishes of our passengers, too.”
Not just for kids
“It’s very special to watch the adults interact with the princess,” said Terrell. “You would think the little ones would be enamored with her most.”
That’s not always the case, she said, although she believes children between 2 and 10 years old respond most positively to the experience. One event moved Terrell, and she shares it often:
“The very first day she was here it was Thanksgiving weekend,” Tarrell said. “A woman, probably between 70 and 80, walked over to see the princess. I asked, ‘Have you met the Fantasy Princess yet?’ She had not. I introduced them, and told her to think of a wish and put it into the princess’s heart.
“The woman closed her eyes, then opened them. She looked right at the princess and held her hand to her heart. Her eyes started to tear up. She looked at the princess, her lips started to quiver and she waved good-bye and walked away. She really was making a wish.”
Many stories Terrell shares reinforce the fascination with the princess.
“That’s when we knew that this was something very special,” she said. “That everybody, no matter how old you are, can always wish. Anytime you can wish for something, it’s very special. That’s a dream that you have. That’s how Titanic started. It was a wish, a dream.”