One of our favorite things to do when we lived in California was to go to Las Vegas. And one of my favorite things to to at Vegas was to ride on Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton.
I've been a fan of The Experience since it first opened and enjoyed it immensely. The practical effects were second to none. I mean, c'mon: they completely redress an entire room as you're standing in it (with the lights off) in about 20 seconds. And not only is the room different, it's seemingly inconceivably bigger based on the dimensions where you know you just were moments ago. I was lucky enough to take the "backstage tour" when they started offering it and got to see the workings of that effect with the lights on and it's still breathtaking.
The highlight for any Next Generation fan was a stop on a reproduction of the bridge of the Enterprise-D. (And if you're a TNG fan, you'll recognize the title of this post and its relevance.) As a special treat, the facility also hosted weddings on the bridge, something that was always a secret dream. (Ok, not so secret if you know my love of Star Trek.) I know my wife would never go for our actual wedding on the bridge, but she'd agreed it might be fun to do one day to renew our vows. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my wife?
But, alas, all is for naught, for The Powers That Be have decided that after 11 years, The Experience will be serving it's last patron on September 1, 2008. I can't believe it, and yet somehow I can see that it was inevitable. The Experience sits in a large section of the hotel and is attached to a Space-themed casino (complete with a mock-urinalysis when you used the men's room urinals) that was largely vacant most days. And the price of The Experience kept going up. And they gutted one half of the attraction to build an updated Borg 4-D adventure that was pretty cool but not nearly as groundbreaking as the original Next Generation ride (which was still there thankfully). Heck, they even Borged-out one of the fancy new Monorail cars to try to advertise the ride and get more traffic.
A lot of time and effort and money went into keeping that place running and there was apparently not enough to show for it so the hotel's owners decided that they could make more money with that space (no pun intended) if they got rid of The Experience and put something else there.
I'm sure we'll be back in Las Vegas one day soon. I hope whatever they decide to replace The Experience with is worth it. And a small part of me hopes they're able to save the sets and I'll still be able to renew my vows on the bridge of the Enterprise-D with my beautiful wife and some guy presiding who looks vaguely like Patrick Stewart.
Hey, a guy can dream...