Princess Diana crash-themed attraction launched at US theme park

Chris Baynes

A new US theme park has been criticised after unveiling an attraction based on Princess Diana’s death.

The 1997 car crash that killed the royal will be recreated in 3D for visitors to National Enquirer Live, an “immersive museum” in Tennessee focusing on the history of the American tabloid and its salacious celebrity stories.

The theme park, which was due to open in the town of Pigeon Forge on Friday, will also feature replicas of the crime scene where OJ Simpson’s ex-wife was found murdered and of Michael Jackson dangling his baby from a hotel balcony.

Its creators insisted the Diana exhibit had been sensitively handled and was “definitely not in poor taste”.

“There’s no blood. There’s none of that. You see the car crash through computer animation,” said Robin Turner, one of National Enquirer Live’s principle investors.

The theme park will explore stories that have been covered by the National Enquirer (National Enquirer Live)

He told The Daily Beast: “It’s projected, and you see the buildings and everything in a 3-D presentation. 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.

“It’s definitely not in poor taste. It’s just showing the route of what happened. For people who’ve never been to Paris, it’s just showing the topography, and the distance, and the tunnel, and that kind of stuff ... It’s done very professionally.”

Following the attraction, visitors will be polled on whether they believe a number of debunked conspiracy theories – including claims Diana was pregnant at the time of her death and was murdered on the orders of Buckingham Palace.

Diana’s former media manager told The Independent the exhibit was “in very bad taste”.

Dickie Arbiter said: “I wouldn’t call it an attraction, I’d call it very tacky. Tacky is not strong enough, but I don’t think there is a word that’s strong enough.

“[Robin Turner] says it’s not in bad taste – well I doubt he’d know anything in bad taste if it slapped him in the face.”

Mr Arbiter, who was the royal family’s spokesman between 1988 and 2000, said Prince Harry and Prince William would be “very offended” by their mother’s death being turned into entertainment.

“Any decent-thinking person would be offended by such a thing,” he added. “Anybody who goes to something like that would be a bit suspect.”

Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

Asked if he believed the royal family would find the attraction offensive, Mr Turner said: “I hope not. But that’s hard to say. I know they’re very sensitive. With everything out there ... you know, there’s nothing new that’s being presented.

“It’s done in a positive fashion. It brings attention to the different theories behind it that the Enquirer has covered over the years.”

He said visitors would not be confronted with close-ups of Diana’s body in the back seat of the Mercedes Benz car that crashed in Paris as it was pursued by paparazzi on 31 August, 1997. Her Egyptian boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, and the couple’s French driver were also killed.

The Diana exhibit is one of about 100 inside the 20,000sq ft theme park, which is four miles down the road from Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood.

Other rooms will focus on conspiracy theories about John F Kennedy’s assassination and a famed 1977 National Enquirer cover photo of Elvis Presley’s corpse.

The park is one of two National Enquirer Live attractions that have been built by Mr Turner’s amusements company, FrontPage Attractions, at a cost of $25m (£20m.) The second is in Branson, Missouri.

Mr Turner said he expected the Pigeon Forge theme park would draw 450,000 customers, paying $25 (£20) for admission, in its first year.