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I’ve been wanting to tell you about the news of this shutdown for weeks ever since when I read it on my buddy Dan’s blog.

The problem was that he did such a good job at telling the story I didn’t know how I wanted to approach it. While I was at AFO, I asked him if he could be a guest blogger and he agreed.

I think he puts it better then I could so I’ll let him tell the tale!

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I have a fascination with the lost, in particular places that no longer exist or things that no one will ever see again. The sun-darkening flights of the carrier pigeon, a column of dreadnaughts steaming into the setting sun, the sound of a hundred B-17 bombers in flight, the dazzling brilliance of the Amber Room or the Colossus of Rhodes. There is something about being the last to witness something that no one will be able to see again.

I also like Star Trek. The two came together in my latest visit to the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas. It is, like most things in Vegas, a monument to the fictional, an invented place to experience a constructed reality. Cold facts often intrude on fantasy, and few are as a cold as simple economics, and declining attendance has forced the closing of the Experience by September.

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The experience is comprised of two levels. The first level contains Quark’s Bar and Restaurant, along with a long string of shops selling–what else–Star Trek themed merchandise. The second houses the “Museum of the Future” featuring Star Trek props and costumes, as well as the tour and the two simulator rides.

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Large models of the Enterprise A, Enterprise D and Voyager hang from the ceiling. The entire attraction is modeled after Cardassian design, as seen in the aesthetic for Deep Space Nine. The tour offered is a combination of behind the scenes looks at the simulations, the backstage areas, and the Trek sets built for the Experience.

The tour proved to be more entertaining than I thought it would be, and the silly grin I had on my face when the tour entered a corridor that opened up to the Bridge was terribly fanboy. They did not allow photos on the Enterprise bridge, in order to sell official photographs. That was a bit of a disappointment, as a few casual snaps would have been fantastic.

The faux-transporter effect used to “transport” tour members from the attraction to the “Enterprise” was well done and fairly neat.

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The replicators were interactive, in the sense you would push a button and a drink would materialize on a screen. Then you would look at it, and I suppose consider how nice it would be to have an actual drink or for that kind of technology to be available, which would put drive-through liquor places out of business. The price of progress. My favorite thing about this photo though, and about the shop area itself, are the tribbles lying around.

Although I’m fairly immune to costumes these days, the attraction had actors walking around in Trek uniforms. However, they weren’t simply wearing costumes, they were in character.

In particular the Borg Drone (who was rescued from the Collective and attempting to learn about human behavior) was very amusing, making Trek-flavored commentary on mating rituals and drinking when I was at the bar. His remarks were more than a little suggestive, and the subsequent encounters I had with the actors showed the dialogue was more than a little skewed to the adult. Wink wink.

I have no doubt the Andorian and Vulcan I saw later could hold their own in Trek talk, but my favorite moment had to be from the Klingon actor, who had the role of a slightly drunk, belligerent warrior demoted to a station full of Ferengi and gawking humans.

I was looking at the collection of Klingon weapons along with two other people when the Klingon appeared, holding a mug of blood wine (or red fruit punch. Whichever). The Klingon asked which was our favorite weapon, and cleverly I fiddled with my camera while the two others fell for the bait. One answered the bat’leth, and he told the two men that the Klingon bat’leth was too much weapon for him, and he pointed at a small dagger, the smallest weapon there, telling the man it was more his speed.

The man countered by saying he could wield a decent sized knife that was just above it. At that, the Klingon laughed and wryly informed the man that that particular blade was only used for ceremonial Klingon circumcisions, and he should stick to the little dagger for that was well.

Later on when we were signing the guest book, the same Klingon swaggered in and told us to sign with honor, because the book was going into a warehouse at the studios and would never be seen again.

I AM NOMAD.

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Sorry, had to get that out. Nomad here (and according to the card he is the original prop) is an example of the kind of memorabilia on display. You can also see the three dimensional chessboard Spock often played, and an intercom box from the original series.

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Crates of Romulan Ale sit by the Promenade. The ale is actually a lager beer produced by the Central American brewery Cerveceria La Constancia. The beer is colored blue and tastes pretty much what you’d think a light blue beer would be like.

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Spock’s burial torpedo from Star Trek III, reused several times in the movies, most notably as the torpedo Spock and Bones perform “surgery” on to be able to home in on General Chang’s cloaked Bird of Prey.

He was, and always will be, my friend.

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Original series uniforms stand next to the Enterprise jumpsuits. Communicators and other small props are hanging from the walls.

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A look at part of the Quark’s Bar area. The food is Trek themed, with such culinary delights such as the Hamborger, Seven of Nine’s Seafood Collective, James Tea Kirk, Flaming Ribs of Targ and Trip Tucker’s Warp 5 Prime Rib Chili and Chips.

Overall, its about the quality and quantity you’d get at a Friday’s, only with Trek names attached to them. The only exception is the more off the wall stuff like the giant rum infused Warp Core Breech, served in a suitably Treky globe with dry ice steaming off.

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This docking bay is the exit for the tour, and an indicator of the Cardassian architecture.

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A Warp Core Breech. I don’t mind telling you, that’s a whole lot of rum in that thing. I suppose one person could finish it off, but there was no way I could. Luckily my brother helped me polish it off.

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Statues of the Gorn and the M 113 Salt Vampire.

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The underlying fiction of the attraction was that it was a “time station” in the 21st century. This flies in the face of any kind of continuity with Federation protocols on temporal interference, but standard copy for the kind of immersive “you are there and its not a ride” concept many attractions go for.

This is a dedication plaque for the USS Synchronicity, which sounds like a timeship from the name. Its incongruently mounted on the wall at Quarks.

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Speaking of Quark’s, a view of the seating area.

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The USS Enterprise, all lit up.

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It wouldn’t be Vegas if there wasn’t some Trek themed gambling, although the opportunity was missed to create Dabo tables in the attraction.

In all, the Experience was great fun for a Trek fan, but for the casual Vegas tourist it might be a passing curiosity at best. I didn’t ride the simulators, too expensive for the tiny budget I had, but they seemed to be a draw for the average attendee.

I on the other hand spent a good half hour just seeing how Nomad was put together and checking the timeline of Trek for inaccuracies. Everyone’s gotta make their own fun, after all.

Thanks a lot for that Dan, I wish I could have gone when I had the chance!

(this post was reformatted in April 2013 for a better presentation)