Well, the 24th century is here. Of course I am referring to Paramount's Star Trek: The Experience, the latest venture by Paramount to bring its Star Trek universe closer to the fans. The cost of this project has been reported at over 70 million dollars, and in my opinion, is well worth it. The following is a condensed version of our three-day stay in the 24th century.
Upon arrival, the first thing that one notices is the giant size replica of Jim Kirk's Enterprise, NCC-1701 (No bloody A, B, C or D). It looms over the entrances to both the ride/museum and Quark's Bar/Promenade. Our first destination, after driving for 12 hours, was Quark's Bar for lunch and drinks. We were seated in the dining area and our Bajoran waiter, who was very friendly, provided us with our meals straight from the 24th century. I had the Warp Wrap (a wrap with steak and veggies - very good) and my friend had the Cheese Borger (self-explanatory). We also ordered drinks, which came in official glasses from Quarks. We both thought the meal was outstanding and would definitely be dining here again, as long as the Klingons and Ferengi who were walking around didn't bother us (too much). After lunch, we took a tour of the gift shops.
There are five shops one can loose a lot of money in, with the most expensive being the Admiral Collection. In it, there are props from the shows, plates, dedication plaques and pewter ships from the Franklin Mint, a Klingon uniform (for $12,000), various paintings, autographed photos, and much much more. This is the best of the shops but also the most expensive. Three of the other four shops are connected but are listed separately. They are Zek's Grand Emporium, Moogie's Trading Post and Garak's Clothiers. In these shops, one can buy anything from CD's, episodes on tape, books, pins, uniforms, jackets, and the list goes on and on. Lastly, there is the Molecular Imaging Chamber where one can have their picture taken and be digitized into a Star Trek themed scene. Overall, my friend and I both wished we were independently wealthy; there was just so much to buy. As we looked around in awe some more, a very friendly Bajoran shopkeeper gave us a brief history of the shops and various cast members' exploits while they were here. While I wish I could go into more detail, I do wish for that particular shopkeeper to keep her job.
Next was the actual Experience; tickets were $14.95, unless you are a Nevada resident, then they were $9.95. Also, if you had a Star Trek Mastercard, the price was discounted, but I don't remember the price. As we began our journey to the Experience, we saw the remaining starships hanging overhead. They included the Enterprise-D, Voyager, and a Klingon bird of prey. All were lit up beautifully. The two of us were wondering just where in our homes we would be able to display them.
After we gave the ticket taker our tickets, we entered the "Starfleet Museum" where hundreds of props from all the incarnations of Star Trek were displayed. There was also a Starfleet timeline that wrapped around several walls of the museum. As we neared the ride's entrance, there was a hallway dedicated to the aliens of Trek. Included in this were Klingons, Ferengi, Borg and several of the other alien cultures. Each gave a history of the more predominant characters from that particular race. We were then at the entrance to the ride.
I do not wish to give away any aspects of the ride, sorry. I believe the ride would be ruined if any information were given away. Let's just say you felt like you were in the 24th century. I will say it was worth a second trip, which we took. And this is where things got interesting. Just before we embarked for our second journey, I had asked one of the "navigators" (this was their official designation) if it would be possible for a backstage peek of the bridge. I don't remember the exact wording, but it came out pretty much as a NO! Shoot. Oh well, so much for that idea. But wait, readers, all hope was not lost.
During the second time through, I noticed one person and his/her significant other (these persons will remain nameless - I wish no ill to come to them from Paramount or the Hilton for aiding us in getting backstage) receiving special treatment. After the ride was finished, I chummed up to this person and asked if he/she were part of the Star Trek crew or responsible in some way in putting together the Experience. He/she replied yes (no more details for fear of reprisals) and then asked if we would like to join the two of them on the bridge for an indepth look at it. We jumped at the chance.
We were led through a door marked "Deep Space Nine Authorized Personnel Only" and found ourselves walking through the corridors of the U.S.S. Enterprise D. Even the little decals along the walls were the ones used on the television show. As we approached the end of the corridor, we heard the familiar whoosh of doors parting and we got our first unobscured view of the bridge. We felt like we just walked into the future. I slowly walked along the edge of the bridge to the dedication plaque where I had to make sure I wasn't dreaming, or made sure I stayed dreaming. It was true, I was on the bridge of the Federation's flagship. My next stop was the Captain's Chair.
I sat slowly, and I could almost see Riker to my right and Deanna to my left. Ahead were Data at Ops and some no-name ensign at the Conn. And Worf was above me at tactical, taking deep throaty Klingon breaths. I looked to the view screen but no enemy appeared, which is a good thing because, as I looked around, the bridge was actually deserted except for my friend and our "nameless" tour guides. I then headed for Ops and suddenly realized how relaxing those reclining chairs were. I could almost fall asleep in it, but then the Captain would have my head for sleeping on duty! Sorry, another dream sequences there.
My next stop was tactical and the science consoles behind it. From here I could control all aspect of the Enterprise. But for some reason it would not let me change the command codes. So much for locking out the command crew and taking the ship on some fools errand. At least I got some good pictures*.
Overall, I must say that Star Trek: The Experience is the best thing that Paramount has given us in the way of hands-on Star Trek. All the employees were very friendly and helpful and added a spell of realism to the whole experience. I would fully recommend the Experience to any Star Trek fan.
*We bought a point and shoot desposible camera at Moogie's Trading Post, but none of the pictures turned out. I have written the maker of the camera to complain and I will keep you posted.
UPDATE: It has been over six months since I have been to The Experience and I have received no word back from the makers of the camera sold in Moogie's Trading Post. I would advise NO ONE to purchase a disposable camera from Moogie's Treading Post. As rule #19 of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition states: Satisfaction is not guaranteed!!!
SECOND UPDATE: On my last visit, 18 months after my first visit, I found out Moogie's Trading Post no longer carries the camera.