On Sunday TrekMovie first broke the news that Star Trek The Experience in Las Vegas will close this September. Today we have a follow-up with statements and exclusive comments on the closure from Cedar Fair and CBS. Plus we have reactions from some of the fans who were trying to save The Experience as well as Borg 4D (and Voyager) star Robert Picardo.
Cedar Fair makes it official – staff saddened
Yesterday Cedar Fair, who acquired Star Trek The Experience when it purchased Paramount Parks in 2006, issued a brief press release stating:
Star Trek: The Experience, Las Vegas’ premier interactive attraction will conclude its historic 11 year run at the Las Vegas Hilton on September 1, 2008.
Since 1998, millions of guests have gone boldly into the 24th century to battle Klingons, Borg, and other hostile aliens. The original complex featured the Klingon Encounter, an interactive adventure and ride. In 2004 Borg Invasion 4-D was introduced and the Secrets Unveiled Backstage Tour was unveiled in 2005, making Star Trek: the Experience the stomping grounds for fans around the galaxy.
Chad Boutte, Operations Manager and Director of Marketing for Star Trek The Experience is quoted in the release giving STTE a Trekkian farewell:
Hailing frequencies open. We’d like to thank all the fans and friends of Star Trek, whose constant and amazing support we’ve enjoyed throughout our tenure at the Las Vegas Hilton. As we boldly go into the futures that await, know that we take your love of Star Trek: The Experience with us. We share the memories of time spent in the most unique place in the Galaxy, and we carry those memories into our futures with us. Live long, and prosper.
Hailing frequencies closed.
Boutte also talked to TrekMovie and said he was personally saddened by the closure. He joined STTE before the Cedar Fair acquisition and his first job there was as a Borg Drone, before he assimilated his way into management.
Boutte says that that due to the closure he expects the Experience to get a big influx of fans wanting to see it and Quarks Bar for the last time. In fact this has already started, and some fans are even trying to take home makeshift souvenirs, especially menus from Quark’s restaurant. Boutte is confident that they can handle the influx, even during the August convention, noting that they handled over 6,000 visitors on the 10th Anniversary in January (the free tickets for Nevada residents helped that one).
Boutte says that what he will miss most of all are the 160 full and part time employees, of which he stated "I have never worked with a more enthusiastic and devoted crew in my life." Boutte said that even though the staff were prepared for it to potentially close, many took the news hard. Boutte hopes that they can do some special events between now and the closing on September 1st, and he is going to be looking to his dedicated team for ideas so they can be involved in how The Experience says goodbye.
STTE staff really get into character
CBS holding out hope?
Although CBS Consumer Products, who handle Star Trek licensing, has confirmed that Star Trek The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton is to close in September and that their relationship with Cedar Fair will end by December 31st, there still appears to be hope for future. A spokesperson for CBS Consumer Products tells TrekMovie:
We’re extremely proud of the 10-year run Star Trek The Experience had in Las Vegas. We’re currently exploring several options to continue The Experience for the public to enjoy for years to come.
The spokesperson would not provide any detail on what these options are. However, the spokesperson did confirm that the original props and costumes at the Experience (which are owned by CBS), will not be put up for auction. It was indicated that these would be needed if The Experience is to find a new home sometime in the future.
Artifacts from the Museum of the Future at STTE
Picardo will miss being ‘attraction’
Robert Picardo (VOY: The Doctor), who appears in the Borg 4-D motion simulator ride which was installed in 2004, is also sorry to see The Experience shut down. As reported by SyFyPortal, on a conference call promoting his new role on Stargate Atlantis the actor lamented:
It breaks my heart a little bit to no longer be my own theme park ride. Once you have an action figure for years, there are only a few ways to go up, and being a theme park attraction is one of the only ones.
Trailer for Borg 4-D Ride, featuring Picardo
Fans saddened, but not surprised
Since TrekMovie first reported that the future of The Experience was in doubt, many fans and Experience regulars have been trying to do what they can to save it. One of the more active Experience advocates is Steven Biggs, who encouraging fans at many sites and forums to contact people at CBS and Cedar Fair to bolster the case to keep The Experience open. Biggs tells TrekMovie that he has been campaigning to save The Experience "because it was the last bastion of Star Trek and a great presentation of the whole 40 history of Trek, and I just didn’t want to see it go." Biggs, who worked at The Experience, starting as a loader at the opening in 1998 and ending his career as a Klingon in 2002, visits once or twice a year since moving to California, but has been going more often recently due to the possible closure. Even though he has been a strong advocate for The Experience, Biggs says he understands it was a business decision and he has now given up on his ‘save The Experience’ campaign, saying “I was hoping to nudge them, but now that it is decided…that’s it.”
Biggs (AKA Kralk, son of T’Nek) backstage at STTE
Brad Siegel, an advertising sales executive from New Jersey and frequent out of town visitor, has also been actively advocating The Experience. He tells TrekMovie that that he will mostly miss the community that grew up around The Experience, especially at Quark’s Restaurant, noting:
There is no place like home at Quark’s. Bartenders Jeff and Shannon provided more than beverage service. They offered great conversation and companionship that truly made a visit to Quark’s something special. And then there are the characters – among the best – an Andorian named Kastron and a Borg named 3 of 6. Where else on the planet Earth could you turn around and see Klingons, Andorians or Ferengie getting along side by side with Humans?
Brad (and fiancé) at STTE
The fans who will be impacted the most will be those who live in and around Las Vegas. One group that will especially feel the pain is the 60-member USS Las Vegas fan club who hold their monthly meetings at Quarks Bar. ‘Captain’ Paul Walker tells TrekMovie that his members were all regulars for both the attraction and Quark’s and well known to the staff. Walker says they are "saddened" over the closing and they aren’t sure where they would go next for their meetings. However, Walker says even though he is "discouraged," he is not surprised that The Experience is closing.
I understand the economics, the attendance has dropped. As others have commented, they are not advertising it. They are not promoting it. Cedar Fair bought it but doesn’t know what to do with it.
Walker feels that the lack of promotion, rising admission prices (Gen. Admission is now $49.99), and especially the lack of updates were all factors in why attendance has fallen. He and his fellow regulars feel that if The Experience were to be extended, some things would have to change, noting:
Klingon Encounter is so outdated that there is no reason to ride it again. The Las Vegas cityscape footage is totally outdated…and in Quark’s they haven’t changed menu enough to keep it fresh… All in all if they were to keep it open they would have invest a lot more capital in refurbishing, creating new rides, and also incorporating the upcoming movie which focuses on the Original Series.
Members of the USS Las Vegas meeting at Quark’s in 2007
Let’s hope that if CBS does find a new home for Star Trek The Experience, they take this time to revamp it to reflect the entire franchise, and better capitalize on the both the Classic Trek as well as the new ‘Abrams era’ of Trek.
STTE Rides, cool but both are Next Gen era
To find out more about the experience or to purchase tickets, check out the official site.