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Sept. 11 Museum honored at Disneyland, angering vics' kin

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 3/23/2015 Eli Rosenberg
A 9/11 Memorial sign is hung on a fence beside the south pool of The National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, on Aug. 25, 2011. © Paul Goguen/Bloomberg A 9/11 Memorial sign is hung on a fence beside the south pool of The National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, on Aug. 25, 2011.

The 9/11 Museum was feted in a lavish gala thrown by an attraction association at Disneyland — a slight victims’ families said was another sign the nonprofit is more focused on money than the memory of their loved ones.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum was honored with the Themed Entertainment Association’s “Extraordinary Cultural Achievement” award at the Anaheim, Calif., event.

“It’s totally outrageous that they would participate in this,” Jim Riches, a retired firefighter who lost his son, Firefighter Jimmy Riches, on Sept. 11, told the Daily News. “It’s a moneymaking place for entertainment and they got an award for it. They’ve made it into an amusement park.”

The solemn museum was joined by theme parks like Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, whose Harry Potter exhibit took home a “Paragon award,” and China’s Chimelong Ocean Kingdom aquarium on the awards dais Saturday.

The black-tie affair, sponsored by global consultancy firm AECOM, was held in the Grand Ballroom at the Disneyland Hotel on Saturday.

The museum’s attendance at the party, where tickets started at $520 for nonmembers, had some victims’ families seething.

“The 9/11 Museum won this award alongside a Harry Potter theme park. It’s time for professionals like the National Park Service to bring dignity and respect to the World Trade Center museum and get rid of the high-salaried stuffed suits who are disrespecting the dead heroes and victims at Ground Zero,” said retired NYPD Sgt. Al Regenhard, who lost his son Christian, a firefighter.

A spokesman for the museum told The News that one of its representatives traveled to the West Coast to accept the award. It received no cash benefit as part of the award.

“The award recognizes the museum for extraordinary cultural achievement,” said spokesman Michael Frazier.

The museum has sparked a handful of controversies since it opened in May, such as hosting a VIP soiree complete with appetizers and cocktails on the eve of its opening and selling a 9/11-themed cheese plate in its gift shop.

erosenberg@nydailynews.com

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