Tuesday, July 22

29 Days Of Vacation

Day 2: Star Trek The Experience, NV

If ever there was a place to indulge your inner geek,
this is it. Located inside the Hilton resort near the Strip, this has all the elements of hyperbolic, over the top, gee whiz sci-fi excess, all with a Las Vegas twist. You enter the large area devoted to dorkitude through, of course, a themed casino and bar area. Various light-up zappy things are everywhere, the decor a furious and curious collision of depression era Logan's Run combined with Forbidden Planet on acid. Even if you're not a gambler, it's worth a dollar bet just to pass your hand through a light beam that activates the slot machine tumblers. Neato!

The Promenade, although shorter than I'd like, is a vague representation of the Deep Space Nine set. Here you can peruse various Star Trek souvenirs, from action figures to Starfleet wear to expensive gadgets like phasers and starship models. Once, I even saw a replica of Captain Kirk's command chair, complete with a detailed painted cutout of good ol' James T. From 30 feet away, it looked pretty cool. If you can't find something to covet or roll your eyes at, leave now. It only gets worse.

Across from the Promenade is Quark's Bar and Restaurant. It is here you're likely to be fleeced by a Ferengi or accosted by a Klingon. Sidle up to the bar (more zappy stuff) and demand a Tranya, or a Romulan Ale, or a Warp Core Breach. Order up some targ ribs, or Holy Rings of Betazed, or a hamborger. Seriously, go to the web
site, click on the restaurant link under "What is..." and check out the menu. It's insane in its unapologetic geekiness. At this point, NASCAR fans will bitterly berate Star Trek nerds with epithets strong enough to break the Organian Peace Treaty. For true and unabashed Trekophiles like me, the inside jokes, self-deprecation, trivia drops, and absurd coolness cannot be matched by any other attraction.

Most likely, though, the reason you're here is the two rides: Klingon Encounter and Borg Invasion. I won't say much about these, other than they are not rides in the conventional sense, but total sensory immersion into the Trek universe. Painstaking set details, costumed actors with a script, and holy sh-- special effects make either of these unforgettable. The transporter effect that sends you into the future is one of most baffling and surprising things I've ever experienced. At that moment you can almost believe you really are being "beamed up."

For my money, however, the best thing about Star Trek: The Experience is the area leading up to the rides. Rather than just wait in a boring line, you wander through the world's largest collection of all things Trek. Costume pieces, props, stills, you name it, line the balcony walkway, all presented in a sort of future museum exhibiting relics from Federation history. Many a fan has stood gaping at stuff they saw on their favorite show, amazed at how cool or cheesy it is in real life. Easily the best part of the trip, tickets can be purchased separately, and you can exit before the rides. Also here are LARGE models of starships suspended from the ceiling. The original Enterprise, Enterprise-D, Voyager, and others are all here, suspended in mid warp, glowing and blinking in a way that communicates with the adventurous "what-if" in us. Flanking these are large screens which periodically show retrospectives of the franchise: a piece on the Captains, or starships, or aliens, or some other wow-I-loved-that memory. Wistful, inspiring, and familiar; my inner twelve year old loves this place.

Unfortunately, this ultimate Trekkie Mecca is scheduled to close on Labor Day this year. Even if they relocate the displays somewhere else, I doubt the environment will be as all-encompassing as it is now. Plus, you'll undoubtedly have to pay more.

Teasers on this trip: Shark Reef, Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam, Fremont Street light show

1 comment:

tiff said...

this is required reading for anyone who thinks they know how to take a vacation.

You rock, and thanks for the tip(s)