Photo from Agoda.com
My family was on vacation, driving home from wherever we'd been. Just my mother, my sister and me.
We stopped along the Jersey coast. A sign for the Titanic Mall had caught our eye and we decided to visit.
After parking the car we climbed a long and worn exterior stairway that ended in a single steel door. Inside we found a cramped hallway extending before us, partially flooded but still crowded with customers. We walked to the edge of the water, thinking it strange that there were more tiny restaurants and cafes than stores.
My mother and sister were already tired so we sat down at a table. They weren't interested in seeing more so I decided to explore on my own.
The stores were small and strange, poorly stocked and peopled with workers in early 20th-century costumes who didn't seem interested in selling anything or even answering questions. The elevators were odd as well. Only one person was allowed at a time, and they stopped barely long enough to let their passengers on and off.
I pushed the button for the floor below and walked out into an underwater wonderland. The area was vast, covered by an enormous expanse of glass. Above it, ocean waves swelled and crashed while "My Heart Will Go On" played over and over from unseen speakers.
This was the attraction, and I texted my mother and sister to tell them so. But there was no signal underwater, despite how close we were to the shore. I went back to the elevators, and as I waited to board one I saw something terrifying through the glass doors. The car was filled with water, and inside a man struggled to free himself before he drowned.
Somehow I understood this wasn't real, but only a special effect, a projection. Just part of the fun and excitement of visiting the Titanic Mall.