Farewell Review of Star Trek The Experience

Star Trek The Experience, at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, will close down on September 1st. While here at the Creation Las Vegas Star Trek Convention, TrekMovie decided to say goodbye and take one last run through and do our first (and last) review of the premiere Star Trek attraction.

 

Star Trek The Experience is much more than just motion simulator rides, It is, as the name implies, a complete ‘experience’ in the universe of Star Trek. When visiting you can, for the most part, pick and choose what parts to explore, with each one covered below

Star Trek museum
If you purchase tickets for two rides (at a price $45), you walk along a path that is the ‘Star Trek museum.’ This is broken into two components. The first is information panels such as the ‘timeline of the future’ which is a basic Trek Chronology, and it has been updated to include Enterprise, but it doesn’t get nearly the coverage as TOS and TNG get. There are also sections covering aliens, ships and weapons. The graphics are fine, but for a hardcore Trekkie there isn’t a lot of new information. The second component of the Museum are genuine props and costumes from the films and TV series and this is the more interesting component. Although it is a mix of genuine items vs. replicas, it is great to get up close to some of these iconic items from Zefram Cochrane’s outfit in First Contact to Spock’s coffin-pedo from Star Trek II. It is an excellent collection, and larger than the touring Star Trek The Exhibition (although the former ‘Tour’ may have had more stuff in total). The most impressive part are the TOS costumes and props.


Enterprise required STTE to redo their timeline


The ENT and STFC stuff is real, the TOS stuff probably not

Ride 1: Klingon Encounter
The original ride at Star Trek The Experience when it opened back in 1998 was the Klingon Encounter. The premise is that you are modern day earthlings who are about to go on a simulator when you are suddenly ‘beamed’ onto the USS Enterprise where Captain Picard has suddenly vanished due to some Klingon who pulled your group into the future (apparently one of your fellow riders is Picard’s great great great great great grandfather). You are taken to an excellent recreation of the Enterprise D bridge and briefed by Riker and Geordi (played by Frakes and Burton), then whisked off to a shuttle bay which is where the ‘ride’ part really begins. The motion simulator shuttle plays a film on a curved screen that is pretty immersive if you are sitting in one of the front rows. Even at over 10 years of age the simulator still gives a very thrilling ride throwing passengers around (or they would be if they didn’t have seatbelts on). The simulated battle and flight graphics are a bit dated, especially the view of Vegas, but it is still a thrill to fly by the Enterprise D so close you can almost see Guinan serving drinks. Another excellent component of the ride are all of the ‘Starfleet personnel’ you encounter while you are moved around from room to room to shuttle. All the actors stay in character and really sell the little adventure you are taken on.


The ENT and STFC stuff is real, the TOS stuff probably not

Ride 2: Borg Invasion 4-D
Originally STTE has two Klingon Encounters to allow large groups at the same time. But in 2004 one of the Encounters was removed and assimilated by a new ride, Borg Invasion 4-D. The conceit on this one is that you are in the future and visiting Copernicus Station. You enter an orientation room where The Doctor (played by Bob Picardo) briefs you on how you can save humanity, but then a Borg cube is detected and starts slicing up the station and assimilating the crew. Soon you are again whisked from room to room, all the while watching as cast members drop like flies to the Borg until eventually you are taken to a shuttle, but in this case it is a much larger shuttle than in Klingon Encounter, because this one is a full sized theater. There you take a ride that brings you into a cube and you get assimilated by the Borg Queen herself (played by Alice Krige) only to be saved by Admiral Janeway on the USS Voyager (played by Kate Mulgrew). Although the theater doesn’t have the motion simulator effects of the Klingon Encounter, there are still a lot of rumblings and air sprayed at you and things that poke you in your seat. Plus the 2004 3-D visuals (requiring your ‘safety glasses’) are much better than those of the Klingon Encounter.


Borg 4-D Theater/Shuttle

Shopping Promenade
Although the rides are all about TNG and Voyager, the rest of the Experience is all about Deep Space Nine. One side of the Experience is a curved to resemble DS9’s promenade and is full of shops and kiosks where you can buy a wide array of Trek apparel, toys, and other merchandise. There is a good selection, but mostly geared towards tourists and so the hard core collector wont be fully satisfied. There are also some rare signed items. It is fun to be in stores full of Trek merchandise and DS9 theme is fitting and fun, but the prices are a bit high (especially for the DVDs). Regardless, The Experience managers expect to have all their inventory sold by the time they close in a few weeks.


A great place to blow your latinum


Born pregnant, and on sale

Quark’s Bar and Restaurant
A favorite part of STTE for regulars is Quark’s. Again the DS9 theme works for a Trek-themed eatery and bar and the decor does feel like the 24th century we have been led to expect. The bar menu is full of Trek-named items like Warp Core Breach and The Mind Melt, which are all essentially fruity rum and vodka drinks priced $8.50 and up. Quark’s Restaurant menu is also full of Trek sounding dishes like The Sulu Toss, The Holy Rings of Betazed  and Seven of Nine’s Seafood Collective (mmm nano-probes). However the fare is essentially competent, but not exceptional, comfort diner food. The prices are not a match for the food, so you are definitely paying a premium for the Trek environment. The atmosphere is fun, with Star Trek movie and TV clips playing on the big screens, but it would have been nice to see more variety in the menu over the years and maybe so real alien looking food.  


Many a ‘Morn’ will miss Quark’s

The Aliens
A key part of your experience at The Experience is encountering the many ‘aliens’ that patrol around. The make-up and costumes are top notch and these actors do not break character. I talked to one of the Klingons and tried to get out of him if he thought it was a big crowd and all he would say is "there are more human dogs than usual." .


Dealing with a Klingon makes the wait for the ride go faster

Back Stage Tour
An interesting option you can take at The Experience is the Back Stage Tour, which costs extra. For the tour you are taken on a similar experience of going on one of the rides, but with a guide and shown everything from ‘behind the scenes.’ The guides are knowledgeable and explain all the aspects of Experience and are able to answer even detailed questions. My guide Lisa was clearly an Original Series fan and had some good trivia questions that stumped even some die-hard Trekkies in the group. One of the most interesting parts is being able to watch the Klingon Encounter, but from underneath the motion simulator shuttles. You also visit the make-up rooms and actual back office areas where you can see the Starfleet and alien cast members milling about, but they never break character even when heading for the Coke machine.

Bottom line
Star Trek The Experience is a must for any fan of Star Trek, and if you have the chance to go for the first time or the last time you should take it. That being said, it is hard to make the case that The Experience should have continued as is for another decade. The Experience was build in 1997 and it feels like it. The Klingon Encounter is fun, but it looks its age.  The emphasis on TNG and DS9 is unavoidable, even with the Voyager-themed Borg 4-D  ride. The minimal amount of Enterprise and Original Series makes it not truly a full Star Trek experience. If CBS is successful in finding a new home for STTE, hopefully there will be a rethink on STTE, especially with the new Original Series oriented feature film in mind.

Despite all this, it must be pointed out that the staff at STTE are top notch. They are what make The Experience still work despite the age. Their dedication and love for Star Trek is  infectious and will be missed.

So, it is sorry to see it go, but maybe, in the end, this is a good thing (although not for the dozens of dedicated and talented people working at Star Trek The Experience). Hopefully in a few years with a revived franchise we will see a new type of Star Trek attraction that is more modern, covers the whole franchise, and is more interactive. A bit more affordable would also be welcome.

For more about Star Trek The Experience, visit the official site.

Saying Goodbye
A nice new addition to The Experience is the ‘Wall of Memories’ where you can write your own personal goodbye to STTE.


You can say goodbye with your own memory

The Experience closes its doors September 1st to begin the process of vacating the space by the end of the year. Operations Manager Chat Boutte tells TrekMovie that they are planning a special de-commissioning ceremony. There are likely to be special celebrity guests to help pull STTE into drydock. There will also be a special ‘last tour’ for invited guests and some of the most loyal customers (one guy is close to his 1000th ride). Boutte is also considering offering some of those last tour tickets up on Ebay. As more details are worked out for the final day of STTE, TrekMovie will provide an update.  

 

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Great review. Shame I live so far away from the experience. I never saw it.

Same here going to vegas in November to…. damn!

I was fortunate enough to be able to go twice, once in 99 and once again in ’04. I wasn’t too impressed with the Borg 4-D, but I did enjoy the Klingon Encounter.

I will always remember the spine tingling sensation of being “beamed aboard” and walking through the corridors of the Enterprise and then the bridge. It was truly a dream come true and sensory overload in the biggest way.

It’s sad to see that it’s going away. I wish I could make it out there just one more time, but alas I think it’s not going to happen. I have some really great memories of being there. Especially of being with my best friend at Quark’s Bar on the day we were supposed to fly back to Miami and we were downing Raktajinos (sp?) and after about 6 of them we looked up and saw news of Hurricane Wilma bearing down on South Florida. We found out our flight was cancelled and we just spent the rest of the day in Quark’s Bar getting…umm, killing our thirst, so to speak.

:-( Bye STTE….we had fun times together.

I enjoyed the Experience but was later disappointed to learn that my guide (I paid extra from the behind the scenes tour) incorrectly told my group that all of the props in the display cases were genuine. Later I learned that not all are (as this review notes) and I have no way to know which is which.

@ #4

Does it really matter? It’s not like you own them or anything. So as long as they looked the part it’s all good. Although your guide telling you a mis-truth is annoying I guess.

I’d have loved to have seen this. Hope somebody else picks it up some day.

#5

I don’t think the guide knew he was telling a mis-truth, but there’s no way for me to know. He was a totally cool, likable dude and an outstanding guide.

It sort of matters to me if the stuff is real or not. I saw a few items that I would attempt to purchase if they ever come up at auction, especially the device Spock made on City on the Edge using stone knives and bearskins. But if it’s a replica, it’s not worth much.

Would love to know if anyone thinks it is real, or has reason to suspect it is a replica.

Having worked there for eight and a half years I would just like to say thank you to all the fans that have graced our establishment, for many great memories, and I look forward to many more Star Trek Experiences!!!!

Wow I misspelled it,its Quarksbartender and once again thank you.

well i never gots to see or never will i guess, hmmm i hope something like this shows up in the not too distant future. mm how about star trek land in universal studios, sweeet. there’s already marvel there, yeah move over spidie..

I hope they’ll redo it and open it somewhere else if/when the new movie becomes a hit :)) *crosses fingers*

It really sucks that all the cool Trek stuff is in the US :(

Anthony, if you can recall I would love to know the trivia questions that Lisa used to stump some hard core fans.

I recall my guide only gave us one hard one, but I may be mistaken. He asked if anyone know what GNDN (written on some bulkheads/walls) stood for and I must have read it somewhere since I knew the answer: Goes Nowhere, Does Nothing.

Your description of the quality of the tour guides and other staff is spot on.

The Underpants Monster

Thanks for the memories!

I was in Vegas to have some cosmetic dentistry done at LVI (I was my local dentist’s test case for his course there), and so I was in some pain and badly needing distraction. Immersing myself in the Trek universe was the best medicine.

I remember a Ferengi coming up to me in the bar and saying, “I don’t know how you hu-mons can drink so slowly!”

‘The Sulu Toss’… ahem…..

Hearing that it was closing I was able to quickly book a trip out there and went last week. I had a blast and spent 10 hours at The Experience last Wednesday. Just taking my time on the rides, gambling, shopping, eating, and drinking was wonderful. STTE wasn’t as crisp as it was when I visited it first back in 1999, the gift shop didn’t have as good of stuff, and my favorite Warp Wrap wasn’t on the menu, but that didn’t deter me from enjoying every minute of it. I’m so very glad I made this one final pilgramage, and I will savor the memories for years to come.

Many of the props, like the older TOS items, were fabircated, I believe, by HMS studios, or at least I think that’s their name. They are the same FX team that created the props for much of the Berman-era TV shows and also creates many of the prop replicas for Roddenberry.com. But still very cool to see them. Especially things like the Gorn. With the original latex long gone, it’s great to see a fabrication of it and be able to see what it would have looked like fresh out of Wah Chang’s molds.

visited this attraction back in the 1990’s.
( i believe the show was about a bird of prey attcking vegas or something…)

it was real cool.

loved the display stuff and Quarks.

I never liked the fact that it was in vegas. bringing our kids to see it was like going thru security at the airport.

stay in line.don’t pass the ropes. really uptight about kids in a casino.

maybe if the new Trek movie does blockbusters we might see the experience re-emerge at Universal or something ( much like the OLD interactive adventure they used to have)

So ‘Star Trek: The Exhibition’ IS in fact defunct?

I must say, I had the pleasure to visit the Experience twice, and I truly appreciate the effort put n by the team. I hope it’s mothballed for a better day, and not all sold on eBay.

Awwwww it would be a dream to go :( im so gutted i havent been :( why there not anything like this in the UK god damn it!

I thought it was a really cool place. To tell the truth it was one of the only reasons I went to Vegas.

I’m really bummed out to see this go, I’ve done the Klingon encounter several times, but never got to see the Borg encounter (somehow I havent managed to make it out there lately)

If there’d been more emphasis on “Enterprise” and TOS I might have made it out there at some point. Bummer.

great review, i can’t believe there is no “khan encounter” where I could fool him like the great and powerful James T Kirk

That’s sad that Star Trek The Experience is closing down, that’s where Trekkie’s are born.

Vega$. Star Trek. Never made sense in the first place. CBS should reincarnate STE where it should have been… in LA as part of a Paramount studio tour, comparable to Universal’s. Didn’t do the rides when I saw STE… but did the rest. Too grating… having STE stuck in the middle of a casino. The writing was already on the wall in 2005 as I saw it that STE wasn’t going to last long. As others noted, the Quarks Bar concept was really wasted. Sure, they had the in-character actors done superbly, and a wonderful staff. But the food was crap, and the menu naming was pathetic. Holy Rings of Betazed. Sure. When Vega$ tried to become the “family destination” a decade ago, this sort of made sense. But that ship has long sailed…. It’s perhaps unfortunate that the only cities that would make sense to be “a new homebase for Star Trek” are either too small (Riverside, Iowa), too small and too remote (Vulcan, Alberta), or too large (LA). If only Paramount Parks had managed to situate STE in the population-middle of the country at Kings Island near Cincinnati, Ohio! In a situation like that, STE could live long and prosper…. STE would fit so well at a park like this… When Paramount Parks did their Star Trek shows at Carowinds in the mid 90’s… those were a perfect combination. Trek and rollercoasters…. Much better than Trek and gambling.

Wonderful article, Anthony. Those fans who have not been fortunate enough to experience The Experience can get a glimpse, through your eyes, of this spectacular Trek homage before it is gone. Thank you.

I really liked the place. Had two visits. The second time though, things were looking a little ratty.
Hope they move it somewhere else- permanantly this time.

That timeline would have to be seriously reworked to fit the new movie in.

I was by chance in Vegas when Borg Invasion 4D premiered, and was lucky enough to meet Bob Picardo while waiting in line. Great experience – too bad it’s closing.

I’m hoping you’re going to the party at the Experience on Friday night.

Maybe if you could get some video for those who have never had the chance to experience it? :)

I remember being totally blown away with STTE when I first went in the late 90’s, and how it felt “tired” when I went back a few years ago when they opened the Borg attraction. It really is in need of a refresh and I look forward to the new version whenever it gets built.
The backstage tour was the best part of the Experience. I had a great guide and it was fun to poke around behind walls while people were going through the ride. And even after they showed me how the transporter effect worked, it still felt like the real thing.
I’m said others will not get to join in on the fun after September 1.

What I find interesting is all the negative comments on the food. Granted, it’s not a 4 or 5 star Vegas restaurant destination but every single meal I had there in my 4 visits was quite good. It’s simple food, reasonably priced, and tasty. In fact, it’s the only consistent, decent meal I had over each of my 4 visits all over Vegas….especially for the price.

There are still a few weeks left and you can get some great deals I’m sure. Assuming that the Trekkies don’t destroy it this week – my behind-the-scenes guide said extra security was in place for them – you can still go. I go roundtrip air and hotel from Ohio to Vegas for 4 days/3 nights for $370. It’s VERY doable.

Had the pleasure of going to STTE three times, the first was a very memorable day for me for other reasons, but I enjoyed my time there. The second and third were way better, though the prices kept creeping up each subsequent time I would go back.

While I’m sad to see it go, it seemed to me to be dying from the first time I went.

I’m also sad they never really did any Star Trek gambling games. I would have loved to have played Dabo for real.

I’d been to the Experience a couple of years ago and geeked out big time. I was going to take my wife last week since we happened to be in Vegas to catch it before it closed, but the week BEFORE that we attended the Star Trek Exhibition in San Diego.

The Exhibit was pretty much the same except the ride was lamer, but that didn’t justify the $45 price tag to attend the Vegas version.

Oh, and I got to sit in the original TOS Captain’s chair in a replica of the original bridge, which was friggin’ AWESOME. :-)

Vic

I did the Experience twice over the years. For me, the biggest thrill was just being on the Enterprise D bridge, which (as has been reported before) is actually more complete as a 360 degree set than the one that was used for filming.

Oh we will miss you Star Trek the Experience. But instead of grief I will think of all my memories. Thank you for my picture where I am sitting in the captain’s chair. Thank you for my Romulan Ale. I still have it on top of my fridge. Thank you thank you thank you for warp core breaches. My favorite drink!!! But most of all thank you the good times I had there with friends, because the needs of the one do out way the needs of the many.

Never saw the Borg 4-D, I wish I could go for one last visit :(

Man how time flies!!! I went to the opening of the STE and I think I still have the poster somewhere in my stuff! Wonder what I could get on Ebay for it?;) I never have made it back since that time so I can’t rate the Borg part. But I really enjoyed what I did see at the opening overall. The beam up part and going to the Ent-D bridge was one of those cool geek experiences! The food at Quarks was pretty good for what it was. I do wish the Quark DS-9 section had been a bit bigger with a closer look to the DS-9 set. I recall being a touch disappointed about that. Still the cast milling about was fun and I enjoyed the props time line. Not much more I can ad, but thanks for the fun STAR TREK memories STE.

I really hope there is a new STAR TREK experience sometime with a more TOS style going on. But only time again will tell. Rickout.

Thank you for this terrific article, Anthony. We visited the Experience not long after it opened, and had a blast. I will never forget being “beamed” up, plus how realistic the bridge was. I still have a faded Quark’s Bar shirt that I can’t bear to part with! Sorry I couldn’t get back to say goodbye. :-( I’m optimistic that the new movie will bring the Experience back in a new venue with new energy.

“More human dogs than usual” . . . Love it!

I went to Vegas with a couple of buddies back in 1999 and we visited the STTE. We went to see everything and we did. The museum display was very impressive. We rode the Klingon Encounter twice, and it was enjoyable both times. Very immersive in how it was done. The practical technology to allow the group to be transported aboard the Enterprise was pretty cool to experience, and a detailed explanation would be very neat to read. The bridge is very faithful and the actors truly do a great job in portraying the 24th century crew. The turbolift to the Grand Corridor was quite large, but hey, what do you expect. The shuttle simulation ride was fun.

We walked the promenade and I bought a white and black Star Trek henley shirt that I still have to this day and looks brand new because I don’t wear it that often.

That evening we ate a Quark’s and had an enjoyable dinner.

All in all, I’m glad I spent the money to do it, and now I’ll have to look at some of the photos I took of my experience. It’s sad to see it gone, but hopefully something could be done in the future. After all, there are several owned theme parks owned by Paramount throughout the U.S., right?

Thanks, Anthony, for the review. I’m going for the first (and obviously last) time two weeks from today. It will also be my first visit to Las Vegas; the timing is not coincidental!

yes it all sounds good except for the “sulu toss”. What would his husband say?

Sounds amazing…I wish I could go before it’s closed for good. Buu….

9. Quarksbartender –

Don’t know if it was you but while on our honeymoon this past December my wife and I were in Quark’s Bar and a soccer game was playing on the TVs. As we were enjoying our ‘warp core breaches’ one of the two bartenders came around and said, “Hey, do you mind if we put on some Star Trek episodes or are you watching this?” We both laughed and said, “Yes, please!” and the newly Remastered “Space Seed” went into the DVD player.

My wife and I love hanging out in bars but this was the very first time a bartender turned off sports in favor of Star Trek — it’s now one of my favorite stories to tell about our honeymoon! Thanks to you and all the wonderful staff at Star Trek the Experience! You will be missed!

My mom lives here in the Vegas area and I took her to dinner last night at Quarks. She loves the place. The food was excellent as always — the drinks are VERY strong and we were both drunk — and the staff friendly and great. I am so sad that it’s going away. I was lucky enough to come to the Experience opening night way back when and come to the con every year. It’s just not going to be the same without it.

Hey! Picard clearly tells you to never “reveal what happened here today.”

For disrupting the time-space continuum, and jeopardizing ride profits, I’m gonna have to report you to Starfleet Command.

Otherwise, great article, thanks.

krikzil#45- I doubt there is any better bonding activity for a mother and daughter than getting drunk at the Experience whilst all manner of aliens mingle about and fellow con revelers down copious amounts of refreshing beverages with you.

I think it would be good if they moved the Star Trek Experience to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama. It has many many visitors each year, and there are lots of Trekkie’s living in that area, including me. :)

#42 , sulu toss? i wonder what it tastes like though, is it some sort of salad?

hmmm #49, I bet so. Makes me pucker up just thinking about it.

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