For the most part, I try to write posts about places that still exist, locations you can actually visit. But occasionally, like today, I feel compelled to write about a Wow place that has, shall we say, bitten the dust. Call this, then, a “memorial” post for the Las Vegas Star Trek Experience.
For a ten-year period (1998-2008), my favorite place to visit in all of Las Vegas was the fantastic “Star Trek: The Experience” exhibit at the Hilton Hotel. After purchasing your ticket, you enter the “History of the Future Museum,” a curving ramp rising from the lobby filled, chockablock, with Star Trek lore and memorabilia. As a “Trekker,” there’s nothing better than seeing a full display of Star Trek historical artifacts plus a whopping timeline of the entire series, from Kirk and Spock to Picard and Riker, and beyond. At the top of the hallway, you then get to choose which of the 2 interactive attractions you want to enter: Klingon Encounter to the right, Borg Invasion 4-D to the left. Myself, I’m split on which of the two is better. The Klingon Encounter includes an attack by the nefarious Klingons and a visit to the bridge of the Enterprise. The Borg Invasion features scary Borg drones wandering around like evil zombies, attempting to add you to their collective.
The absolute highlight of the show, at least for me, is this cool moment on the Klingon Encounter when we’re all huddled in a turbo lift, under attack by the bad guys, and we’re informed that we need to be transported to the Enterprise. Suddenly the lights go out for maybe 5 seconds. When they come back on, we’re somehow standing in the transporter room! It literally feels like we’ve been transported! I can imagine how the trick was done, pulling the walls up into the roof and such, but it’s more fun to just revel in this Hollywood-level, special-effect magic. Wow.
Sadly, the attraction closed down in 2008, citing a decline in admissions and failed negotiations between the management and the Hilton. Rumors of its reopening have proven to be apocryphal. Here’s hoping, with the current increase in “interactive experiences,” that Star Trek: The Experience will rise again, like fellow phoenixes Khan, Neelix and Q. (If you recognize those references, you’re a true Trekker!) Until then, beam me up Scotty!
(Nothing sticks around forever. Like many Trekkers – not to be confused with the old phrase, “Trekkies” – I mourn the loss of the Star Trek experience. It’s something I enjoyed, something I looked forward to it. But its moment passed. When things (or people, or relationships) you cherish fade away, the trick is to celebrate the memory while avoiding the natural anger that comes with loss. Sending frustrated letters to the Hilton saying “How dare you close down this attraction!” wouldn’t have helped anything. Faced with loss, we celebrate, we mourn, we move on, and that’s the flow of life.)