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In 1998 Star Trek: The Experience opened at the Las Vegas Hilton, but did you know it was actually the "Plan B" after a much more ambitious vision was considered in 1992. This "The Starship Enterprise" attraction would have built a full-scale Enterprise ship in Downtown Las Vegas. Now the company behind the pitch has revealed details and artists sketches of this Trek attraction that never was. Details below.
The Pitch For A Life-size USS Enterprise For Las Vegas
Back in 1992 city fathers in Las Vegas were concerned that following the growth of the hotels on the strip, the downtown area of Vegas was becoming a ghost town. A number of pitches were considered for ways to revitalize downtown including a Star Trek attraction titled "The Starship Enterprise" which was designed by the Goddard Group. Now Gary Goddard has taken to his blog to tell the true story behind the Star Trek pitch and show off some of the artwork.
Goddard describes the genesis of the idea:
My concept was to do something so large and so epic, it would fire the imaginations of people around the world. After looking at how difficult it would be to bring people to the downtown core (from the Strip), I knew we had to have something really exciting, dynamic, and without equal. We kicked around a few ideas, and then I came up with something really unique. I went to Chuck Canciller, my lead designer then – and a genius as well – and said, “What if we built the STARSHIP ENTERPRISE – FULL SCALE – on the land at the end of the street. Imagine that…” Chuck looked at me as if I had lost my mind, but by that time he also knew I was serious about big ideas like this. He immediately started working on some ideas.
Inside they envisioned the Enterprise would have a tour of the ship with all the key areas, plus a restaurant in the crew mess, and there were ride elements including a "high-speed travelator that would whisk you from deck to deck." They also planned to develop additional attractions as the project went on. According to Goddard, the team then approached Paramount to begin negotiations on a rights deal for the ambitious project which was estimated to cost $150M. Goddard also says that the mayor of Las Vegas and the redevelopment committee were leaning towards approval of the project, so the final step was getting Paramount to agree. Unfortunately, everyone at Paramount loved the project except CEO Stanley Jaffe. Goddard recalls the final meeting at Paramount with the mayor of Vegas, committee members and the Paramount brass:
So with everyone in the room, I take Mr. Jaffe through the project. With the art, the plans, the overall concept. After my spirited “pitch” everyone was beaming – everyone except Mr. Jaffe. Mr. Jaffe thanked us for the effort, and he congratulated us on creating a bold concept and presentation, and then went into a speech that went something like this:
“You know, this is a major project. You’re going to put a full-scale ENTERPRISE up in the heart of Las Vegas. And on one hand that sounds exciting. But on another hand, it might not be a great idea for us – for Paramount.” Everyone in the room was stunned, most of all, me, because I could see where this was going. “In the movie business, when we produce a big movie and it’s a flop – we take some bad press for a few weeks or a few months, but then it goes away. The next movie comes out and everyone forgets. But THIS – this is different. If this doesn’t work – if this is not a success – it’s there, forever….” I remember thinking to myself “oh my god, this guy does NOT get it….” And he said “I don’t want to be the guy that approved this and then it’s a flop and sitting out there in Vegas forever.”
And with that, Mr. Jaffe in a single moment, destroyed about five months of work by a host of people, and killed one of the greatest ideas of all time.
And so that was that. Las Vegas moved on and built the "Freemont Experience" which is still there to this day. And six years later the less ambitious (but still pretty cool) Star Trek: The Experience opened at the Las Vegas Hilton. The Goddard Group was also involved in that attraction, and promises a future post on the company blog about the creation of ST: The Experience.
For now, you can visit garygoddard.com to learn more about The Starship Enterprise project and see more concept art.