Theme park sparks controversy for turning Princess Diana's death into attraction
A new theme park attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., is turning heads for seemingly capitalizing on a famous death, the Daily Beast reports.
The National Enquirer Live! Museum, a 20,000-square-foot theme park that opened last Friday, includes an exhibit that allows visitors to relive the events leading up to Princess Diana's death in 1997.
"It's a 3-D computer model, and you're looking down on what looks just like Paris, but it's three-dimensional," Robin Turner, one of the principal investors in the park, explained. "... And it shows the pathway as she left the Ritz hotel, and the paparazzi chasing her, and the bang-flash that we think blinded the driver — and how it happened."
Princess Diana, who was widely known for her charm and elegance, was killed in a car crash in a Paris tunnel while trying to evade photographers. The driver of the vehicle, Henri Paul, and Diana's companion, Dodi Fayed, were also killed. A judge ultimately ruled in 1999 that Paul, who reportedly had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, was at fault.
Still, conspiracies surrounding Diana's death persisted. Tabloids, like the National Enquirer (which the eponymous museum is based on), seized on her passing to build their readership. The exhibit, however, is meant to help visitors come to their own conclusions, Turner said.
"You will be polled on what you believe was the cause of her death," he said. "We ask questions like 'Do you think the royals were involved?' 'Do you think she was pregnant?' All we do is ask questions on: what's your opinion?"
The exhibit does not include any graphic images of Diana's body, which was found in the backseat of the wrecked car, Turner added.
"There's no blood," he told the website. "There's none of that. You see the car crash through computer animation."
Yet, some have wondered whether the exhibit is disrespectful. In response to those suggestions, Turner maintained that the attraction is, if anything, informative.
"It's done in a positive fashion," he said. "It brings attention to the different theories behind it that the Enquirer has covered over the years ... The biggest sensitivity of all, do you think she was pregnant with Dodi's baby?"
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Other exhibits at the National Enquirer's theme park include one centered on claims that NASA faked its moon landing and a "story-behind-the-story" account of North Carolina Senator John Edwards' out-of-wedlock child.
The British royal family refused the Daily Beast's request to respond.
Rick Laney, a spokesperson for the museum said that about 300 people showed up at the theme park's opening on Friday, although he did not confirm that the large crowd was the result of the attention that the controversial Diana exhibit has generated.
"We've had a non-stop line since we opened the Pigeon Forge attraction," he said.