Written by: Mike McCafferty (Slice of SciFi Contributor)
The Star Trek Experience closed last week after a 10-year voyage. Citing conflicts between the hotel and Experience owners (read: money), the largest ongoing Star Trek convention, complete with rides, museum, shops and props is now no more. It was a Mecca for those “of the body” to “trek” to at least once in their lives and amongst all the glittering, headache inducing elements of Las Vegas, it was a fascinating oasis of geekiness.
I had been there many times and will never forget the first time I sat down in Quark’s bar and ordered a Romulan Ale. My friend and I sat their, enjoying our trip to the 24th century for a good two hours, doing nothing but staring at the level of detail and the clips of the various series broadcast on the monitors. We perused the museum with it’s timeline of history made and yet to be and props built years ago for years from now. We sampled the food, imbibed the drinks and soaked in the type M atmosphere. Everything was amazing.
The rides were also first rate. I can finally give away the awesome beginning of the Klingon Encounter where you think you’re going to watch a stupid safety video about motion simulators. All of a sudden the lights go out, a transporter noise is heard and when the lights come back up, you are on the transporter pad of THE ENTERPRISE 1701-D! From there you walked down an enterprise corridor to a turbo lift and entered the bridge, complete with crew members and a working viewscreen. I’m surprised they didn’t also have defibulators everywhere for all the fanboys, who would collapse at the sight of their lifelong dream.
I will say that toward the end of the 10-year run, the place started to show its age. Not much changed year-to-year and less attention was spent restoring the environment or the displays. Roaming characters knew less and less about the franchise and when quizzed about basic knowledge would defer to pat answers involving Starfleet security. The low point had to be during the Borg Invasion ride. As we’re roaming down some corridor, our Starfleet Officer (previously a male dancer at some revue) shouts to us, “Look out, there’s a Borg chasing us!” We turn, expecting to see the terrifying visage of a sleek Borg Drone hot on our tails, but instead, they’ve stuffed some 300-pound dude into the sleek outfit, dramatically reducing its sleekness. The guy waddles toward us and everyone just stares in lurid fascination at this horrible miscasting. After a moment the Dance Captain again implores us to move or well be assimilated. I felt the solid urge to turn to him and say, “Honestly, I think we’ve got some time here.” Eventually, we leave out of a sense of courtesy to the Borg, as he’s sweating way too much and don’t want to make his job any harder.
Despite the small quibbles (tribbles?) about the place, I am very sad to see it go. As in the episode “Obsession”, something just said, “Home” when you stepped into the promenade. It was a physical manifestation not only of places we’d seen on the television but also a representation of all the hope that we put into the future — into Star Trek’s optimistic future.
Not a lot of us are going to survive to the 24th century, so to see this possible, positive future lovingly created is about as close as we come. And for ten good years, It was a future worth visiting.