Guys, I thought I could get it out of my head, but I've been thinking about it all week and the closure of Star Trek: The Experience is just a lot more painful than I first thought. I know many of us are probably not Star Trek fans so you probably don't understand, but it's on the same level as losing the SkyWay or PeopleMover. The attraction did slide downhill, not because of deterioration but because it was never updated, so I'll try to explain how I felt about it back in 2000.
First of all, for those who have never seen it, you have to know Star Trek in order to even understand the place. The more you know (and love) Star Trek, the more you would take from it. It's in a corner of the hotel, down a very long hallway and across from a bunch of slot machines. But it's so immersive that even this incoherent theming is no problem. Quark's Bar is exactly as it sounds, it looks *exactly* like they took it right off Deep Space 9 and stuck in into Las Vegas. Considering it was a TV show set in the distant future being translated into a day-to-day restaurant with pratical considerations this is a very impressive feat. The menus items were named after the shows from the original series all the way up to Deep Space 9. For instance they had "Liquid Latinum" and "Class M Pizza"...again, references that only a Star Trek fan could appreciate. And the characters that come out and interact with the patrons are excellent actors in makeup taken right off the show. Each character has its own unique personality that fits with the species and the never break character for anything. It's incredibly impressive.
The restaurant was free but if you paid an admission you could see a "museum" of sorts, and for even more you could experience the very impressive rides. The museum contained actual props from the original show, movies and all sorts of other series. It had a huge timeline showing all the events of the Star Trek universe and it had huge models of the Enterprise hanging overhead. I only rode the Klingon Encounter and never saw the Borg thing, but to avoid major spoilers, I'll just say that the ride is one of the most impressive and immersive I've ever seen. It's on the same level as Terminator 2: 3D, and mabe even beyond that!
There is a gift shop filled to the brim with everything Star Trek. They had the Next Generation episodes playing in there at all times and you could hear the theme song in many places of the Experience. It was truly as if you were living in the world of the Star Trek universe. You just don't know how weird a "living dream" is until you experience one. Many people mistakingly refer to it casually but for a major lifelong Star Trek fan, the first time you walk into The Experience, it literally is like walking through your dreams in real life. It's a feeling you could never describe in words, other than absolutely pure bliss every second you are standing there. But like I mentioned, if you don't care about Star Trek or have a passive and casual stance towards it, this place wouldn't do a thing for you. It's *heavily* geared towards the relatively hardcore fanbase.
I was born into Star Trek films in 1979. I grew up with movies like Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home (the one with the whales) and saw Undiscovered Country on the big screen. I had always watched the original series and loved it from day one. I have to admit I was pissed when the Next Generation first came out "ruining" the original, but after a while I warmed up to it and it became my favorite series. Star Trek has some fans on the lunatic fringe who dress up in full makeup, know all the specs to every ship and go to every convention on the planet, but I consider myself as big a fan as any sane person could be. It's been deeply ingrained into my life and there's not many things that matter to me on TV or in the movies as much as Star Trek.
When I was watching a movie rental in 1998 I saw an ad in the previews for this "Star Trek ride" (this was before the days of DVD and Netflix). I thought it sounded cool but didn't give it a second thought and never really planned on going there. But in 2000 I celebrated my 21st birthday and went to Vegas. On the way we stopped and someone was handing out coupons to that Star Trek thing I remembered seeing a few years back. I decided on "why not" and went, thinking it would be a fun thing to pass the time in between drinking binges. Little did I know how absolutely stunned I would be a few hours later! My jaw just about hit the floor and I've been a fan of Star Trek: The Experience ever since. It's been a time in my life I'll never forget and that place will always share a soft spot in my heart.
Anyway, I couldn't let The Experience go out without saying something about it. It's had a profound experience on my recent trips to Las Vegas and it deserves to be recognized one last time. Just like the Next Generation ended, all good things must come to an end. I remember many painful endings Star Trek has taken us through in the past 20 years like seeing Tasha Yar and James T. Kirk die, the Next Generation come to a close and the abomination of Nemesis, but this is real life and it's the hardest ending to be able to take yet.