Las Vegas, the Final Frontier

The Las Vegas Hilton is rapidly becoming the place for Star Trek fans. First it’s where the Official Star Trek Convention (which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the cult TV show) is held, but secondly and more importantly the hotel is home to the attraction Star Trek: The Experience. Part indoor theme park, part museum; the $70-million attraction is composed of several components that all faithfully recreate the science fiction world of Kirk, Picard and the show’s other heroes.

Visitors are greeted by a hanging mammoth model of the original Enterprise at the entranceway. Inside the main circular area (the Experience’s fact sheet claims that the entire area is 65,000 square feet), other models of ships from Star Trek’s many incarnations are a sight to behold (for the record, they are the Enterprise D from Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Voyager from Star Trek: Voyager and a Klingon Bird-of-Prey seen from the movies). Guests can come in for the food in the area’s center, do some shopping off to the left and take in the sights. As they gawk at the intricate detailing of the place, actors dressed and made up as aliens from the shows such as Klingons and Ferengi interact with visitors and stay in character.

But most come for the main attractions. Originally, that was just Klingon Encounter and the History of the Future Museum, but BORG Invasion 4D was added in 2004 and now there are plans to add another area devoted to the original series that featured Capt. Kirk and Spock. Fans pay admission for both shows and can experience them as many times as they want. Once the fee is paid, they turn a sharp right of the circular area and go up a long twisting walkway that takes them through the museum. It features an exhaustive timeline of our history and that of the shows and movies. But what is of most interest is the huge collection of genuine Star Trek props going back forty years. In fact, the people behind the attraction claim the museum has the largest, permanent collection of props. After browsing through the winding museum, visitors choose which attraction they want to try first.

In the Klingon Encounter, guests are somehow transported (through backstage effects) onboard a flawless recreation of the Enterprise D’s interior complete with actors playing futuristic spacemen. Guests are given a quick tour of the bridge and are then whisked away into a simulator ride which concludes the show. The future is also visited in BORG Invasion 4D as fans enter a futuristic space station that comes under attack by the villainous cyber beings, the Borg. Unlike the first attraction, this one concludes with guests viewing and being part of a 4D interactive film that’s similar to what you would find in the Disney or Universal parks with tactile experiences enhancing the show.

In 2005, a backstage tour was added for those wanting to know more about the Experience. Lasting about an hour, small groups are given an exhaustive behind-the-scenes look at how both shows are prepared. In some respects it does spoil the illusion once aspects of the shows are revealed but fans should love it. But be aware that all photography is strictly forbidden and you have to sign an agreement promising not to divulge what you have learned at the tour.

After the attractions, visitors can dine at Quark’s Bar & Restaurant which is in the center of the main area which is a is a recreation of the Deep Space Nine space station seen in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The restaurant is named after the fictional eatery and pub in that show. Menu items include the hamborger, flaming ribs of targ, and final frontier desserts, while alcoholic beverages also have exotic names. A popular drink is the Romulan ale, which is actually beer with blue food coloring.

There are also a couple of stores; one of them sells authentic props from the shows which are quite expensive but worth a look. And what is a Vegas attraction without a wedding ceremony? Believe it or not Trekkers in love can make or renew their vows at the Experience onboard the Enterprise bridge and that’s just one of many available packages. The Las Vegas Hilton offers overnight packages for fans that include admission tickets and meals at Quark’s. Star Trek may be gone, but it lives on at this hotel, and it’s just one of many non-gambling attractions that Sin City offers.
By J.L. Soto

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