It was confirmed on July 3rd on scifi.com that the long-running Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton will be closing September 1st. Having had the time of my life two weeks ago at The Experience, I can’t convey enough what a genuine shame this is. For die-hard or even casual Trekkies, this attraction is an absolute must and I urge anyone who knows what a Tribble is to make a weekend trip and check it out.
First off- what is it? The short answer is that, what Graceland is to Elvis fans, The Experience is for anyone who has ever been enthralled by Star Trek. There’s a thorough museum, with the history of mankind’s involvement in the space program that leads into Trek lore, and has every costume, animatronic monster, and random film and television prop you’d ever want to see (Kirk’s glasses from The Voyage Home? Check. Spock’s coffin from The Search for Spock? Check.). You have the option of two rides, both of Disney caliber- Borg Invasion 4D and the Klingon Encounter. The former is the scariest 3D movie I’ve ever been assaulted by (you read that right- the movie goes to great lengths to simulate what being made into a Borg would feel like. Creepy stuff). The latter is as good, if not better, than Star Tours and the build-up to going on the ride, involving time travel, is a lot of fun (you even get to stand on the bridge of the Enterprise!).
There’s also the world’s biggest Star Trek store: everything from shirts, action figures, dvd’s, cards, stuffed Spock teddy bears, and the Sulu BBQ sauce I bought for SG Dave. Next to that is Quark’s Bar and Restaurant, with reasonably priced food, a slick sci-fi setting and the delightfully weird gimmick of characters dressed like Quark, a Klingon warrior or Sarek (Spock’s papa) walking around your table while you eat.
I went with my brother, Marty, and his girlfriend, Magan. Like her, I’m a fan of “old school” Trek, while Marty finds Star Trek fairly ridiculous and more a fan of The Force (make that “old school” Star Wars, without the New trilogy). That said, we all had a great time- Marty and I laughed non-stop through the intergalactic probing we suffered through at the hands of the Borg and Magan, like myself, took her time to enjoy the meticulously laid out Trek lore of the museum and, like the rest of us, cowered when an actor dressed like a Borg warrior stalked the hallways.
If you’ve gotten this far in the article and think this sounds like a great deal of fun, then seriously, get yourself to Vegas! Whether by bus or plane, when you initially arrive in Vegas, you’ll get a “24/7” magazine, a free listing of Vegas attractions that is flush with coupons; it contains a discount for purchase of two The Experience tickets that will allow you to return the following day, all day long and give you access to all the rides and attractions for as many times as you’d like. The Hilton is pricy, but there are a lot of cheap hotels and motels nearby that are accommodating to families and those with no interest in Vegas sleaze (the town has seriously cleaned up its act). Finally, for those who want a Vegas wedding but don’t want it to look like a picture of desperation (like in “What Happen in Vegas”) or a reunion of Elvis impersonators (like in “Honeymoon in Vegas”), you can get MARRIED at Star Trek: The Experience! They have reasonably priced theme weddings, complete with Federation and Borg attire (!).
That this Vegas attraction couldn’t make it until the opening of J.J. Abram’s new Star Trek next summer is a genuine shame. Yet, those who still want the ultimate in Trekkie fun, you have a few months! Live long and prosper.