In Memoriam: Star Trek the Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton

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Star Trek the Experience

Opening in January 1998, Star Trek the Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton was a living testament to the Star Trek franchise. Containing both a museum and a simulator ride, as well as a recreation of Quark’s Bar from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek the Experience was a must see attraction for Star Trek fans. Originally operated by Paramount Parks (and later Cedar Fair after their 2006 acquisition of Paramount’s Parks division), the Experience remained at the Hilton for 10 years.

Guests entered into the History of the Future Museum, which contained many of the actual costumes, props and set pieces used in the various Star Trek series and movies. Guests could peruse the displays at their leisure, and at the end of the Museum, a small corridor formed the queue for Klingon Encounter, a highly immersive simulator ride. Guests would enter what seemed to be a mundane motion simulator loading platform. The lights would suddenly go out, and when they came back on, guests were stood on the Transporter Pad of the USS Enterprise-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation. This transition has always fascinated me, and to this day I have no idea how it was done. I’m sure I could find out, but I don’t think I want to know. One thing is for sure though, it was awesome.

Guests then entered a replica of the Bridge of the Enterprise, before being lead to the Shuttle Bay (after a shaky encounter in a Turbolift) and joining the Enterprise for a battle with a Klingon Bird of Prey over the Las Vegas strip. Whilst breaking no new ground in simulated attractions, the immersion and detail in the ride made it a wonderful testament to the Star Trek franchise, and the return of Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes and Levar Burton for the ride’s film and pre-show segments was most certainly welcome.

In 2004, following the final season of Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek the Experience expanded with the opening of Borg Invasion 4D, again an immersive simulation of a Borg attack on the Copernicus Research Station. Utilizing a 4D cinema, guests were surrounded by live actors in full Borg regalia in the pre-show segments, and an awesome ride film for the show segment. Kate Mulgrew, Robert Picardo and Alice Krige also returned to their respective roles for the film.

Declining attendance, as well as contractual issues between Cedar Fair and the Las Vegas Hotel, finally meant the demise of Star Trek the Experience in 2008. The closing ceremony was open to the public, with Avery Brooks and Garrett Wang in attendance, and longest serving cast member April Hebert was awarded with a United Federation of Planets banner. Later in 2008, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman hinted that Star Trek the Experience would reopen at either the Neopolis Mall or the nearby Freemont Street Experience. However, no deal was ever reached and many of the Experience’s set pieces have now been sold off or destroyed.

All in all, Star Trek the Experience was a true delight for Star Trek fans, and Theme Park fans could revel in the immersion and detail that went into the attraction. Be ashamed of yourself Las Vegas for letting this true gem slip away!

Below is a video showing the ride portions of the experience. Good video of the Klingon Encounter is difficult to find, but the first video (uploaded to Youtube by Aatrek) shows much of the pre-show portions and details of the attractions. The second video (uploaded to Youtube by Shinagami8) is the ride film from the Borg Invasion 4D attraction:

Did you get to see Star Trek the Experience or wish you had? Let us know in the comments!

Luke Dunsmore is a lover of Theme Parks, and is the editor of ThemeParkInvestigator.Com, a news, review and opinion site dedicated to the fascinating World of Theme Parks. He lives in Manchester, UK.

26 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Star Trek the Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton

  1. Jim Tomlinson

    I LOVED the Star Trek Experience.. visited twice during CES conventions… it was always packed with people.. VERY sad it has not come back

  2. Scott

    My wife and I just happened to be there the weekend it closed. We had no clue it was closing and it felt like a punch in the stomach when we found out. But we did enjoy the behind the scenes tours they were doing. Fast forward to today and we stayed a few days at LVH and while they kept some of the design elements for the SpaceQuest Bar the place was a depressing ghost town of a supposed new party club. It had no life. No spirit. No fun. No kids. No families. No happy smiling sober people. No happy smiling drunk people either. Just darkness and gloom. It is a testament to how a lack of vision can kill even the best of something good. With the Star Trek reboots bringing in a whole new generation of Trek fans the LVH could have capitalized on this and proven the bean counters wrong. New sets, modernized versions of the “rides”, expansion. You can’t fight stupid. So its gone. We also visited the Fremont Street Experience and adjacent Neonopolis while staying at the LVH and while I would be happy to see the ST Experience reboot practically anywhere this place was absolutely NOT a family friendly or appropriate place to take a family, for any kind of attraction. What we saw, while temporarily amusing from an adults only perspective, made the “STRIP” appear like a disney attraction by comparison. Even the Klingons I think would agree. But there were none to be found to ask. They wisely chose a different planet to relocate their events to after witnessing STTE dismantled and ignorantly thrown into the trash heap of history.

  3. Mark

    I had the luxury of going to Star Trek the Experience twice. I remember having a warp mind meld and a few Rombulian Ailes at the bar. It truly was a great experience. Loved both the shuttle ride above Las Vegas and the Borg Experience. Thank the lord i took pictures every time I went there. I can actually say I sat in the Captains chair on the bridge of the star ship enterprise. I truly wish to see this open somewhere else. Don’t matter where it would be I would definitely go take a see one more time.

  4. Cheryl

    Seriously, Las Vegas? Which moron in a suit took their thumb off the pulse of America?
    I had the privilege of visiting Star Trek: The Experience before it closed. My husband and I LOVED it. We looked forward to bringing our grown children to see it. What a MAJOR disappointment that it’s gone!
    What happened to the powers-that-be in Las Vegas? How could they NOT understand how many baby boomers, AND their kids, AND their kids’ kids actually came to Vegas with the Star Trek attraction near or AT the top of their list of MUST-SEES? (Of course, we gambled too. That’s a no-brainer!)
    I even took bottles of Romulan Ale to my grown sons as keepsakes. They promptly DRANK them. This meant I needed to go back and get more to actually SET ASIDE for posterity.
    Honestly, we’re getting SICK of Blue Man Group. Removing, or at least not helping with negotiations for a new site, was an extremely stupid move for Las Vegas: The Tourism Income Experience!

      1. Cheryl

        LOL. I did get a little carried away, didn’t I? But yes. You could say I’m “slightly disappointed.” I read about the possibility of bringing it back as part of the Fremont Street Experience. What a brilliant idea! A shot in the arm for both “Experiences.” But I hadn’t heard anymore about it… So it’s not to be? That IS very, very sad. (And STUPID. I just have to say that!) I wish Las Vegas would get its act together, so to speak. Especially in our current economy. People are looking for more than tall, ominously dark, shiny buildings which are merely a more expensive version of the “same old, same old” on the Strip.
        Star Trek: The Experience offered an amazing alternative that took us “where no one has gone before.” It made people feel like this history of the future was actually plausible. And it was a great opportunity “to explore strange new worlds,” even if for a few hours. I would gladly fork over the dough for a ticket for that!

  5. Cowboy T

    I happened to be living in Las Vegas when it opened, so I was there the first week or so. It was just *too* neat to describe. For the technology of 1998, it was remarkably good.

    Matter of fact, I was seriously marveling at it all (“wow, this is totally cool!”, mouth agape, all that) while we were going up the “turbolift”. One of the Experience cast members, a blonde woman in the ST:TNG “yellow” uniform, apparently found my amazed reaction to all of it kinda amusing and decided to play along a little.

    Her, squaring up and speaking slightly saucily: “How do I know you’re not a Klingon in disguise?”

    Me: “Well…maybe I am….”

    Her: “We’ll talk later. :-)”

    Unfortunately, we never did “talk later”, but I can assure you the ride itself looked just like on the TV show, and the exhibit cast members were pretty convincing. They were even rushing about telling people “Excuse me, coming through!” when going from bridge station to bridge station.

    Afterwards, there could be no other meal than “The Salad Of KAHLESS!” QA’PLA!

    – T

  6. Angela Popovski

    My family and I had the wonderful experience for attending this experience before it closed it was the best. 10years later we still agree there is no other experience that came close still the best.

  7. Richard Carl Jr

    Whomever was responsible for closing this should be publicly beaten, flogged, thrown into hot oil, then finally drawn and quartered. I'll personally piss on their grave too, assholes. >=(

  8. Will Lee

    The Experience was loved by so many. Isn't anyone from Paramount or who ever owns the franchise taking note? Build it in Vegas and they will come. 28mac

  9. Ruthie Gee

    It was fantastic and I didn't even know it had closed…my husband and I went (we are from England) and it was just the best experience. Loved everything about it….especially the 4D ride ! Even came home with a Tribble !

  10. Debbie Stevens

    I have been to many amusement parks, Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, etc. None of them came close to Star Trek the Experience for my entertainment value and amusement. Perfectly named, Las Vegas Star Trek was truly an EXPERIENCE. It was fun to pretend that you were apart of the Star Trek world. I visited every 2 years and loved my time there. I was just planning my 5th visit, (bringing my father; an original Star Trek fan who had never been to The Experience) when I discovered it had closed a few months earlier! I cancelled our trip. I only visited Las Vegas for ST:The Experience. I have no interest in Vegas. There is nothing there for me. I can see all major entertainment locally. I guess Vegas does not need my money. The closure was very disappointing. Too bad, I also wanted to take my nieces when they were a bit older. If another opens somewhere, I'd travel to it. Count me, my father, nieces, cousins, and friends in!

  11. Jim Libby

    I did experience it, and as a big long time fan of Star Trek, I loved it!!! Just wish it stayed around longer!!! It was one of the best things to see in Vegas!!!!

  12. Cliff Terry

    After visiting the Star Trek Experience with my best friend and fellow Trek enthusiast for the first time, I never went to Vegas again without stopping by for a Warp Core Breach. I took many friends with me, and even my future wife, who at the time was only moderately interested in Star Trek. When I found out it closed down, I was seriously disappointed that I didn't go one last time. What a spectacular job they did. Just unbelievable. One silver lining…after the experience closed down, the bartenders at Quarks released many of the drink recipes. I found the actual supplier of the Warp Core Breach "glass" (bowl) and bought one. Now I regularly make the drink and tell my stories to friends that never made it there while enjoying the authentic drink. I also enjoy the "Liquid Latinum", "Mind Meld", "Borg Sphere", and "Tranya".

  13. Suzanne Evans

    Went with my 2 kids years ago and my young son was a bit small to take everything in at the time and has since seen all the Star Trek shows and films and is upset that it has closed as he wanted to go back again. Why has it closed as we loved it? Shame that another theme park in somewhere like Disney or Universal hasn't bought it.

  14. William Blakeslee

    This was a fun place to go to. After visiting the attraction, I went into Quark's Bar, ate a triangular-shaped hamburger with Romulan Ale. Where else could I get Romulan Ale? It was very good ale. Sad that this place closed. As Disneyland and Walt Disney World now have Star Wars/Star Tours, hopefully the Star Trek Experience can land somewhere on Earth like at one of the amusement parks in Florida and California.

  15. William Blakeslee

    Or rather, serve his time in a Klingon Gulag Rura Penthe (as seen in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country).

  16. Tim Lyle

    Got to go in early 2001. My cousin and I shave our heads; when Ryker reported the Klingons went back in time to eliminate Captain Picards descendants, everyone in the group looked over at us. Very funny. We were like "what?" Great fun.

  17. Joseph Kachline

    "The lights would suddenly go out, and when they came back on, guests were stood on the Transporter Pad of the USS Enterprise-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation. This transition has always fascinated me, and to this day I have no idea how it was done. I’m sure I could find out, but I don’t think I want to know. One thing is for sure though, it was awesome."

    If you would really like to know you could send a message through facebook, I was a designer for Scenic Technologies for the transporter as well as other aspects to the original Experience.


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