Star Trek: The Experience was a themed attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, based on the Star Trek entertainment franchise. It opened in January 1998, closed in September 2008, and was scheduled to reopen in the Neonopolis Mall on May 8, 2009 in time for the premiere of the Star Trek film. It was then pushed back to 2010, and then in 2011 it was announced that they had lost the license. The pavilion underwent one major renovation in 2004 which added the Borg Invasion 4-D attraction, which used state-of-the-art amusement technology where guests experienced an encounter with the Borg. Star Trek: The Experience was operated by entertainment management company Cedar Fair Entertainment Company after its June 2006 purchase of Paramount Parks from the CBS Corporation.
The view from the outside of the Las Vegas Hilton
The History of the Future Museum
After purchasing a ticket, one walked through a museum that included numerous items from Star Trek history. It also featured several video display devices and a timeline of Star Trek events. Later, there were displays for each of the major alien races, which included the Borg, Klingons, and Ferengi. Ticket prices eventually increased to allow visitors unlimited rides throughout the day.
Borg models at the museum end/ride entrance
The last section of the museum was a hallway that served as the attraction queues. The left side was for the Borg Invasion 4-D, and the right side was for the Klingon Encounter. The Klingon Encounter held 27 people while the Borg Invasion 4-D held 48 people. Each show was constructed so that those "in the back" for the first part of the show would, in turn, likely end up in the front for the second half of either show.
The History of the Future Museum closed alongside the closure of The Experience in 2008. It is no longer in operation in the Las Vegas Hilton.
The Klingon Encounter
(Note: The exact attraction experience varied as a result of live performer input.)
Initially, the visitors entered a small room with a depiction of "outer space". A small television in the upper right corner of the room displayed scenes from several Star Trek films. The group then entered a smaller, dimly lit waiting area of a traditional simulator ride. Hosts directed their attention to a safety demo for the shuttlecraft simulator ride. A few moments later the televisions flickered and the lights went out. Following was flashing lights along with transporter sound effects and a rush of cold air. When the lights returned, the group was on a transporter pad. Guests were now aboard the Enterprise-D, transporter room as seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
On the transporter pad, a uniformed Starfleet officer asked for the leaders of the group and directed them away for instruction. It was explained that the visitors were beamed aboard the Starship Enterprise to "what you would call the future" and the group was led to the bridge. Commander Riker appeared on the main viewscreen. Riker explained that Captain Picard disappeared the moment the group beamed aboard the Enterprise and thus one member of the group must be Picard's ancestor. A Klingon Commander named Korath used a time-rift to abduct Picard's ancestor and erase him from the time line. Starfleet Intelligence dispatched the Enterprise to intercept the Klingons' transporter beam and rescue the entire group. Riker directs the group to board a shuttlecraft with Geordi La Forge to escape the temporal rift, and return all guests to their original time. While the group was in the turbolift, the Klingons attacked the Enterprise and the turbolift entered a free fall. Finally, the group arrived at the shuttle bay.
The group boarded the shuttlecraft. The shuttle ride began with a battle between the Enterprise and Klingon vessels. The shuttle then returned through the temporal rift to present-day Las Vegas. The shuttle landed at the Las Vegas Hilton right next to the "motion simulators" shuttles the visitors were originally waiting to enter when they were "beamed off" at the start of the story. Captain Picard thanked the crew for restoring his existence. He said, "While only one of you is my ancestor, each of you hold that same opportunity for the future. Guard it well." Typically a custodian led the group to an elevator and then out to the Deep Space Nine Promenade and Quark's Bar. When the custodian led the group to the elevator, there was a television set which showed a "news" report where the military mentions that the shuttles over Las Vegas were weather ballons.
This simulation ride closed along with The Experience in 2008.
The Borg Invasion 4-D
Like the Klingon Encounter, Borg Invasion draws the visitor into a Trek-themed adventure. While Klingon Encounter is based on the Star Trek: The Next Generation series (which also introduced the Borg), this one is based upon the Star Trek: Voyager series. Once more, this adventure includes the use of costumed actors and video & audio participation of several Trek series cast members.
Unlike the Klingon Encounter which uses sets that duplicate (or come close to doing so) those on the ship in which it is occurs namely USS Enterprise-D, Borg Invasion does not occur on sets familiar to Trek viewers the USS Voyager is not used. Instead the action occurs at another site designed and created exclusively for the Hilton: a Starfleet space station.
Immersion of the visitors into the story line has no equivalent to the high-tech beaming on board the Enterprise-D used in the Klingon Encounter. Here it is accomplished only by a quick introduction of the state of danger to the participants. With the on-screen participation of Trek series cast members Kate Mulgrew and Robert Picardo, and numerous actors in realistic makeup and utilizing well designed props and sets, the threat of assimilation by the Borg seems palpable. The plot involves the participants in several close encounters with Borg drones.
Though using no ride simulator, this adventure culminates in a space battle with the Borg Queen via a 3-D movie with corresponding physical effects including water vapor and wind. (Thus the 4D in the title.)
While the Klingon Encounter goes to great effort to utilize Trek staples to justify incorporation of 21st century humans into a futuristic, far-off adventure (beaming, a spaceflight, and time travel) no such effort is made to justify participation in the plot of Borg Invasion 4D.
Behind the Scenes
A specialty tour was also available for visitors. This smaller tour took visitors through the areas seen in the rides plus backstage areas like wardrobe and makeup. Since there's no plotline to be followed, visitors were free to explore areas like the replica USS Enterprise-D bridge in greater detail.
Photography wasn't allowed on the tour, but visitors did sign a guestbook and get a certificate after the tour is over. The certificate has your name, the date, and your tour number.
Unlike the rides, there were only 4 to 5 backstage tours on a given day. The tour had a separate admission fee.
A decline in admissions along with diminished talks between Cedar Fair and the Las Vegas Hilton brought about the attraction's closure on September 1, 2008.
The closing ceremony was held on September 1, 2008. The public was invited to attend the ceremony, which was presented in the tradition of a naval decommissioning ceremony. Giving the keynote at the closing was Suzie Plakson, who introduced all the members of Star Trek: The Experience staff. April Hebert, who played the Vulcan T'pril, was introduced last as the longest serving cast member of Star Trek: The Experience and given the United Federation of Planets banner. Avery Brooks and Chase Masterson were also in attendance for the closing ceremony, and Garrett Wang made a brief appearance at Quark's shortly before closing. Chad Boutte, Operations Manager of Star Trek: The Experience gave the final speech with the final words "live long and prosper".
Moving & Sale
Mayor Oscar Goodman stated in a news conference on October 16, 2008 that a possible deal was being negotiated between CBS and Rohit Joshi, developer of the Neonopolis Mall. The remnants of the attraction, including the Quark's Bar sign, were auctioned off in April and August 2010. The plans for the moving of Star Trek: The Experience stalled when Neonopolis lost the license due to not meeting the terms of the contract because of lack of funding. CBS had to release a statement that they were still 100% behind the reopening, but it would be more like 2012. http://www.vegastripping.com/news/news.php?news_id=3128
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