The Star Wars and Star Trek Fan Encounters
The Star Wars theme area Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California one year ago next week. Hard to believe, right? The Hollywood Studios version in Orlando, Florida would open a few months later in August 2019. Its main attractions—Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Rise of the Resistance, and Savi’s Workshop, where you can build your own lightsabre—are all great fun. The bad news is that you still can’t visit the California or Orlando park due to the COVID-19 quarantine restrictions. Looking at the virus trends, it’s impossible to determine when they might re-open. For the immediate future Star Wars fans will have to be content with watching the old movies.
What you might not know is that the Star Trek brand also once had its own theme park. That’s right, Star Trek: The Experience operated from 1998 to 2008 at the Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada. Those who visited the The Experience more than a decade ago cannot forget the suspense of the Klingon Encounter and the Borg Invasion 4-D rides or the exquisite galactic cuisine from Quark’s Bar. It was as if you were literally transported straight to the 24th century. In fact, that was how you entered the park – you beamed up!
Star Trek: The Experience opened in January 1998 as a part of Paramount Parks. However, Paramount Parks was sold to the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in June 2006. The Experience then closed permanently in September 2008. There have been several attempts since to re-open. The first was with the Neonopolis Mall, also located in Las Vegas, to coincide with the premiere of the 2009 Star Trek film. That relaunch was pushed back to 2010, and then again to 2011. The deal ultimately failed due to a lack of funding. The remaining sets, props, and wardrobes were sold in 2010 auctions. Unfortunately, many items not sold were destroyed. In the years since there have been various rumours of reopenings, but nothing has come to fruition yet.
Interestingly, the idea for The Experience was born out of the intention to build a life-size model of the USS Enterprise in Las Vegas. After numerous concept changes and negotiations, the attraction was eventually created as Star Trek: The Experience. Those who went remember getting into character and interacting with the cast in an unscripted manner that was real fun.
While Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will eventually reopen someday, there is no guarantee of a new Star Trek park. As of 2020, there are no plans to relaunch The Experience. However, Star Trek fans can still live out a Star Trek adventure online at Independence Fleet from the comfort of their own homes. Since 2001 Independence Fleet has hosted Star Trek role playing for fans of all flavours. You can become a Star Fleet officer and join an experience with other fellow Trekkies as you warp about the galaxy. While Independence Fleet may not have all the bells and whistles or actual Borg coming at you like the old The Experience in Vegas, the possibilities are endless.