The new Elvis movie is out showcasing the life and times of the undisputed King of Rock and Roll. The film, directed by Academy Award winner Baz Luhrmann, tells the story of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) through the eyes of the ruthless Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). The film is set around the time of the Parker’s death in 1997 where he recounts memories of the International hotel and casino. The property was known at that time as the Las Vegas Hilton and was the home of another king in its own regard, Star Trek the Experience. I was greatly surprised when the film actually showed images of the signage notating the attraction; and for me that was an instant kick into nostalgia.
Many people know about the connection between Star Trek and Elvis from his movie costar Celeste Yarnall (Live A Little, Love A Little) to a horse named ‘Star Trek’. The 2022 film continues the tradition by not only showing the Experience but also showing posters from The Original Series on the wall of the NBC studios during the ’68 Comeback Special filming.
While the film did a good job of portraying the likeness of Star Trek The Experience, it did not accurately portray the history of the attraction. What may be just an issue of licensing, due to the fact that the Hilton is no longer associated with the property, it was still good to see a mention of what was one of the pioneer attractions at the time. A potential model for what would come in the future in the form of Star Wars galaxy’s Edge.
In 1998 Paramount Parks and the Las Vegas Hilton entered into a 10 year agreement to be the home of a state of the art multi-million dollar immersive attraction. This attraction would beam people to the 24th century and invite them to experience life in the federation. The attraction, that was built on a new area of the Las Vegas Hilton, was the first of its kind featuring a history of the future museum along with full motion rides and fine dining. Over the next few years the attraction saw record attendance among Trekkies eager to see what the future held.
Everything was going smooth for the attraction up until 2006 with the split of CBS and Paramount Pictures. This action forced Paramount Parks to be sold to Cedar Fair the owner of Knott’s Berry farm along with other Paramount Parks properties. As the sale was finalized, the future of the attraction seemed to be in jeopardy. It was reported in May of 2008 that Star Trek The Experience was seeing a major decline in visitors and on September 1, 2008 the attraction would be permanently closed.
In true Star Trek fashion, a decommissioning ceremony was held at the entrance of the attraction be trained actors of the franchise along with performers employed by the experience. Many Star Trek fans were on hand to witness this ceremony in addition to those viewing on the Internet. At the conclusion of the ceremony general manager Chad Boutte held a baseball to symbolize that they would be back. This was a nod to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Call to Arms”.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 12 years since Star Trek The Experience was closed. It definitely had a lasting impact on me and was the main reason that I chose to visit Las Vegas for spring break of 2006 as a young 23 year old. I had seen advertising for this attraction through the many videotapes of movies and episodes of Star Trek that I just had to see it for myself. It was truly a great time to be a Star Trek fan. It was something that cannot be described to folks who never got to see the experience for themselves. Seeing the signage for Star Trek The Experience on the Elvis movie, flooded my mind with great memories that I had to share with you. Live Long and Prosper.