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Find Out How Las Vegas Almost Saw A Full Scale USS Enterprise Attraction

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.


Concept Rendering of the 1st concept for loading guests onto the Starship Enterprise

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.


Preliminary poster art designed for presentation to Paramount Studios

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.


Artist’s rendering of Starship Enterprise and downtown Las Vegas Skyline facing directly down Fremont Street

 

 

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
MJ
April 7, 2012 5:13 pm

I think the guy was probably right. It would not have been good economics to have it there for decades. Look at the makeover that Trek needed to get going again in 2009.

Miraclefan
April 7, 2012 5:13 pm

My problem is with the physics of all this, I mean how would that massive Saucer section not snap the neck of the ship in two?

Unless the Saucer Section was going to be hollow inside?

NCC-73515
April 7, 2012 5:16 pm

A trekker mecca.

Viking
April 7, 2012 5:17 pm

Man, sooooo close, but a lone Klingon shot it right out of space. If this would have been green-lighted in 1992 when I was younger, still single and full of myself, I swear I’d have sold off my belongings, moved to Vegas, and gotten on with the staff. Imagine – getting paid to wear a movie-era uniform and roam the corridors of a full-sized mock-up the the Big E, guiding tours and working in interactive attractions.

NCC-73515
April 7, 2012 5:20 pm

Problem is: it cannot be built on earth!! :p

Viking
April 7, 2012 5:21 pm

@# Miraclefan – read Goddard’s blog. That was a big concern due to high winds, so they came up with an open scaffolding concept to support the saucer section and make it look like the ship was in dry dock.

Goosenecked Fan
April 7, 2012 5:25 pm

Would have been incredible if done right…

Craiger
April 7, 2012 5:28 pm

An attraction like that would get outdated with with newer versions of the Enterprise coming later with the TNG Enterprise and the ST 2009 Enterprise, they would have to spend more money revamping that Enterprise attraction to modern standards. Would people want to go to see an old outdated Enterprise attraction?

Craiger
April 7, 2012 5:33 pm

I forgot that the Enterprise Experience is popular with the recreated TOS bridge.

Thomas
April 7, 2012 5:42 pm

For all the times people have posted on these threads that such a project would be amazing and a sure-fire hit, once you begin to see the reality of such an attraction, you begin to see how implausible it really is. Even the significantly scaled-down The Experience had a run of only a decade before economics and other issues forced its’ closure. As amazing as it is to imagine, this really wouldn’t work in the long run.

MJ
April 7, 2012 5:46 pm

@8 “An attraction like that would get outdated with with newer versions of the Enterprise coming later with the TNG Enterprise and the ST 2009 Enterprise, they would have to spend more money revamping that Enterprise attraction to modern standards. Would people want to go to see an old outdated Enterprise attraction?”

Exactly my thoughts. See my post #1. The economic of this over decades just would not make a lot of sense. They would have to charge high ticket prices and bring in hundreds of thousands of people annually to pay to for the upkeep and save for the continual enterprise design changes every 10 years.

MJ
April 7, 2012 5:47 pm

@10 “Even the significantly scaled-down The Experience had a run of only a decade before economics and other issues forced its’ closure. As amazing as it is to imagine, this really wouldn’t work in the long run.”

Yep!

Newman
April 7, 2012 5:49 pm

that would have been soooo cool.

Craiger
April 7, 2012 5:58 pm

MJ, I wonder if another way they could have done the attraction and be able to revamp it for the future would have been to just do the full scale interior of the Enterprise only and built a building around it instead of the full scale mock up of the Enterprise?

April 7, 2012 6:01 pm

If it had failed it would have been torn down and something else put up.

No guts, no glory.

Jaffe had no balls.

I had a similar idea, but I don’t think Kickstarter is good for 150 mil. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that’s pushing it.

My dream of a full scale Serenity is still alive, however.

Sebastian S.
April 7, 2012 6:01 pm

#13.
Agreed!

I would’ve loved that! The dream of ST fans becoming concrete reality.

I’d been to the STE a few times in the early to mid 2000s and it was always a blast. Breaks my old heart that the lifesize ship never came to fruition. And by the way, I really miss Quark’s; ST connections aside, that was a nice restaurant…

Having a 1;1 scale starship Enterprise would’ve made the scene in ST09 with Kirk on his bike looking at the big E’s construction even MORE resonant…

Newman
April 7, 2012 6:02 pm

@ 10, 11. I disagree. The point of it would have been just to get people to the downtown core in the first place. Profit from the attraction itself is besides the point. Getting people (and their money) downtown was the goal, and I think a full-scale Enterprise would have done just that, regardless if it was profitable as an attraction.

Newman
April 7, 2012 6:04 pm

@ 15 – I would love to see a full-scale Serenity! I loved Firefly!

MJ
April 7, 2012 6:09 pm

@15. DM, did you notice how the ship in Promethius kind of looks like the Serentity?

El Chup
April 7, 2012 6:20 pm

Not realistic, but, by god, a real sized constitution refit? I wouldn’t creamed my jeans for so many weeks thy would’ve named a medical condition after me.

April 7, 2012 6:20 pm

17. Newman – April 7, 2012

In Vegas a project like this HAS to be commercially successful because otherwise it will not physically survive. The real estate will be used for something else to go up. And it WILL go bye bye.

Theoretically if you had a successful mega-Kickstarter project that produced the funds, then you could build it in Riverside, Iowa, in its drydock with what I expect would be a tax break from the city of Riverside, since it would be such a tourist attraction, and it would put them on the map.

Hell, they are already the future birthplace of James T. Kirk. And they advertise that claim to fame.

In that scenario it would certainly make enough money to pay for the upkeep and a maintenance/operation crew, and Las Vegas type profits would not be necessary.

You would also be overrun with Trekkie volunteers. We could all move to Iowa and live on the damned thing!

In which case, I call dibs on Kirk’s quarters.

19. MJ – April 7, 2012

Sort of, now that you mention it. I was thinking it had design cues from the Nostromo, but I think Serenity also borrowed from that design, which explains why they might all have a family resemblance.

Jason
April 7, 2012 6:27 pm

I dont think it would have mattered that there would be newer versions of the Enterprise.

In 1992 when this was going on the final TOS movie had already been released and TNG was near the end of its run on television, so it wasn’t even the most current Enterprise then.

Mikefly
April 7, 2012 6:29 pm

Woooooooooooooooooooooooo Oooooooooooow. That is all

4 8 15 16 23 42
April 7, 2012 6:37 pm

I have to add my voice to those who agree with Mr. Jaffe and are content not to have seen this go forward. This earthbound Enterprise would be a building, not a ship, and it would be made of concrete, not some futuristic metal. Its exterior would have to be constantly cleaned, maintained and repainted or else it would just decay and stain.

I’d rather wait for something that boldly goes, than bemoan the rundown condition of something that tamely stays put.

InnerL
April 7, 2012 6:40 pm

If you build it, they will come.

April 7, 2012 6:47 pm

I don’t give rip one about gambling or a lot of other things Vegas represents. Other than the shows and the food I don’t care to go there. But if they’d pulled this off, and done it really well,…this would have been too cool. Would’ve drawn me and many others to Vegas.

EJD1984
April 7, 2012 6:51 pm

Dayum!!! This would have been phenomenal! Hopefully with this new exposure of the project, it might gain some traction/interest today.

I would love to see some of the preliminary engineering drawings as to how the saucer (and possibly the engines) would have been supported.

Red Dead Ryan
April 7, 2012 6:54 pm

Stanley Jaffe was right on the money. As cool and ambitious as this project seemed, and it definitely was cool and ambitious, it just didn’t make economic sense. $150 million dollars is a ton of money, plus projects this size tend to go over budget by millions of dollars more. Not only that, but where was this thing going to be built? Next to strip clubs and casinos? And wouldn’t non-fans have seen this as an eyesore on the Las Vegas skyline? And how many people was it going to actually attract? It would have needed much higher paid attendance then what the eventual “Star Trek: The Experience” got at the height of its popularity.

And there was also the possibility of it being a fire hazard. How would people get out if the secondary hull was on fire? Wouldn’t people be stuck in the saucer section? Would there be escape chutes, or would people be forced to jump out of desperation, ala the World Trade Center?

April 7, 2012 6:54 pm

Probably Stanley Jaffe was right. It would be so sad to see the USS Enterprise demolished and its pieces in bad shape and auctioned like those of The Experience.

April 7, 2012 7:04 pm

You’d make it out of steel, not stucco the thing with concrete! lol!

You’d paint it, and then, just like any aircraft carrier that manages to stay afloat as a museum in the very corrosive environment of the saltwater OCEAN — voila!

Some people dream and they build rockets and then they launch them, while others do not bother for fear of what it would do to their spirit if the launch was not successful.

Pah!

This is earth, boys and girls. If you have problems with gravity and rust, you are in the wrong dimension of reality.

Vultan
April 7, 2012 7:07 pm

A bit off-topic, but you’d think Lucasfilm would’ve built a real Star Wars cantina in Las Vegas by now. C’mon, it’s in the desert, people are thirsty, no kids or droids allowed…. And it’s not like they’re above making a buck from that franchise.

Anyway, I hope this gives other developers ideas about mega-attractions. If not a full-sized Enterprise, an engineering set would be very cool—with a glowing warp core at the center surrounded by stations showing off the latest in (real-world) and Trek technology. Hey, they could use it for tech shows—robotics, automobiles, computers, and… whiskey…

Scotty would approve!

April 7, 2012 7:10 pm

28: “And there was also the possibility of it being a fire hazard. How would people get out if the secondary hull was on fire?”

Why would it be any different for this than it is for any skyscraper?

Still, if it was built in its drydock as I suggested, the way we see in ST.09, that problem would easily be addressed by being able to evacuate using the drydock structure itself as a ginormous fire escape that surrounds the ship.

Jack
April 7, 2012 7:10 pm
Yep. I picture this covered in bird poop, dirt and peeling, faded paint and with coke cups and cigarettes floating in the water. This might make me a bad Trekkier, but, yeah, I agree that to build a massive version of the TOS movie enterprise in 1992, after you’ve finished with the movies, seems like a project destined to have limited shelf life. There were a bunch of theatres in Canada (Paramounts) built in the late 90s that had quite huge, amazing, beautifully lit models of the Enterprise (either the TMP+ enterprise or the First Contact+ ship) and a Bird of Prey hanging overhead (complete with laser battle shows at set intervals) and, well, they looked dated pretty quickly. Awesome, but kind of “why is this theater decorated with a ship from a 15-year-old movie?” — to most but die hard Trek fans. After a while, they stopped the laser shows and usually didn’t have the lights (the deflector, windows, nacelles and running lights — awesome) turned on. There’s something about Trek doesn’t stay quite as classic (to the general public) as, say, the Death Star or something. You walk in somewhere and see Star Wars stuff, and you generally don’t say, “heck, what’s that doing here, that was a movie from 30 years ago.” They had Star Trek movie-era shows at Paramount theme parks, also in Canada, but all of those wrapped up a good 20 years ago, I think. And yet,, Star Wars and Indiana Jones stuff at… Read more »
Captain Ransom
April 7, 2012 7:13 pm

if it was a hotel it might work in the long run. assuming that it is even possible to build. i’m not sure the ship design would actually be physically possible to recreate in real life in real size. still, it would have been an incredible sight to see.

apparently, the country of azerbaijan is building a death star hotel, but not to scale obviously! smart move since it will probably become the only reason to visit the country.

Captain Ransom
April 7, 2012 7:17 pm

#24: i guarantee you we will not see a real enterprise that boldly goes anywhere in space in our lifetime.

Sebastian S.
April 7, 2012 7:21 pm

I’d be happier to see one that WORKS… ;-)

Vultan
April 7, 2012 7:27 pm

Well, I did some searching around and it seems there WAS a Star Wars cantina at the FAO Schwartz in Vegas. Apparently, it’s now closed.

Mikey1091
April 7, 2012 7:28 pm

Dude, if this had been built, I would have demanded to LIVE in it, LOL!!!! No, seriously, this would have been an awesome attraction. it’s too bad it never came to be.

Sporky
April 7, 2012 7:30 pm

Dubai would totally buy this idea, go there, NOW!!!!!

Aussie Ian
April 7, 2012 7:31 pm

Here’s the challenge then ………… since a life sized Enterprise in Vegas is not possible, how about this?

Recently, people have sent lego men up into low orbit with hot air balloons and video cameras. It seems that the lgical thing to do next is send a kit model of the Enterprise up there and post it online.

Just Imagine it! No effects, no CGI, just the USS E – baby with real space behind it, posted for posterity for all to see…… stay tuned you read it here first!

Red Dead Ryan
April 7, 2012 7:35 pm

#33.

I think the reason why “Star Trek” ships and props displayed in the theatres became dated was because Trek itself has always been identified more as a tv property, unlike “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones” and “Harry Potter”, which are all movie properties either from the start, or based on books, as is the case with HP. Plus, Trek has never come close to the big screen success enjoyed by SW, IJ, or HP.

#32.

The design of the ship is a lot different from the design of a skyscraper. I guess a drydock structure would be the most logical fire escape. But judging from the pics above, the drydock portion was absent from the design. You’d have to design it so that it doesn’t get overcrowded by panicking people.

Jack
April 7, 2012 7:36 pm

Some of the comments on that site were a little, er, earnest:

“Star Trek makes people believe that the world and our future can be better. It can also be without money and greed and power. Such a monument to “socialistic” and “non-capitalistic” philosophies would be against what rich people want and they might even loose their control and power.

This fantastic idea was more than an attraction, it would have become a shrine to support for a better world. This idea had to be killed just like Star Trek experience.”

April 7, 2012 7:43 pm

This.is what they should have done.

Built the ship but made it into a hotel/ casino… Imagine staying in the captains quarters, admirals, or even just crew cabins. Put a massive casino underneath it. Sell daily tours, still have the superfast turbo lift rides, have a theater with actors portraying the crew on the bridge battling Klingons. Even be able to participate in as a part of the crew in the engine room or the jeffries? Tubes. Maybe a shuttle roller coaster/ away mission (don’t wear the red shirt).

Vultan
April 7, 2012 7:43 pm

#42

A non-capitalistic symbol in the middle of Vegas?
Yes indeed, I would appreciate that enormous irony.

Luke Forrester
April 7, 2012 7:44 pm

Something that size and it would have been an attraction only, they would not have made it a hotel?

Red Dead Ryan
April 7, 2012 8:15 pm

#42.

And what some of those comments didn’t mention was that the “non-capitalist” and “socialist” themed monument would have cost folks at least $100 a pop!

April 7, 2012 8:19 pm

40. Aussie Ian – April 7, 2012

Great idea, so DO it! I’ll look forward to seeing that video!

Red Dead Ryan
April 7, 2012 8:34 pm

There were obviously pros and cons to this project that obviously didn’t happen:

Pro: The building was designed just like the refit Enterprise

Pro: It’s a “Star Trek” attraction

Con: Where in the city was it going to be built? I suspect there wasn’t a whole lot of commercial space in the city for something as big as the Enterprise, unless it was built out in the middle of the desert.

Con: It was going to be expensive to build, to maintain and operate, and expensive for those attending.

Con: The design of the “building” would require an extraordinary escape route in case of a fire.

Con: A lot of residents in Vegas would get sick and tired of seeing the Enterprise in their city twenty four hours of the day, three hundred and sixty five days of the year. Especially non-Trekkies.

Con: Even Trekkies would get tired of seeing and going to the same old thing after awhile. The design, I suspect, wouldn’t really allow for a major overhaul, both inside and out.

Con: How was the thing going to be torn down when it went out of business?

Well, as you can see, the cons vastly outnumber the pros. That is why this project never came to fruition.

jas_montreal
April 7, 2012 8:35 pm

Interesting !

Fueled by Armus
April 7, 2012 8:47 pm

Yeah…I don’t see how the Enterprise plopped down in a random city, even Vegas, would work. Only way it could be commercially viable is if it was part of a theme park and there just isn’t that cohesive pull for Trek.

I’m sure they feel like this one CEO was just a dick to shoot their project down, but I’m willing to bet everyone else egged them on *because* they knew it would get shot down so they could safely cheer them on and be positive in case of future dealings.

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