‘Star Trek’ loses warp power in Vegas

Aug. 20, 2008 | 1:11 p.m.

St Richard Abowitz writes The Movable Buffett, a blog about Las Vegas and all its gaudy pursuits. "Star Trek: the Experience" at the Las Vegas Hilton is in its final month of operation, and Abowitz was curious how that was echoing at the recent "Star Trek" convention in Sin City. Here’s an excerpt:

I first saw Bill Lyons, 50, and his wife, Pam Lyons, 54 (pictured), dragging a suitcase behind them like any tourists going to a convention. I decided to follow them because I thought they would lead me to the convention I was covering. I did not say to them "I am from Earth. Take me to your leader." But maybe I should have.

Bill Lyons says: "We like the attention we get when we are in costume."

They are both dressed as otherworldly characters from the movie "Star Trek: Insurrection."  Pam Lyons tells me "My character doesn’t have a name. I am a skin-stretching specialist."

The movie came out in 1998. That was the year Star Trek: The Experience opened at the Las Vegas Hilton. Since then the franchise has fallen on hard times. There has been only one movie since then, and the last television show ended in 2005. That is not the future but ancient history in Vegas, and the next "Star Trek" movie is not scheduled to come out until 2009. Vegas is not a town with patience.

By 2009 the convention will have to take place without what has come to be known informally as the Star Trek Experience ride, and the bar Quark’s next door that has become a hangout for convention attendees. Both are closing at the end of the month. On Sept. 1, one of the most successful tourist rides in Vegas history will be "decommissioned" after more than a decade, twice as long as the USS Enterprise’s five-year mission on the original series. The "Star Trek" convention in Vegas has lasted even longer. But it grew from a small affair at places like the Plaza downtown to a convention that attracted thousands with the arrival of the Experience. For a couple of years the convention and the ride were at different casinos. But inevitably the two proved a perfect complement after the convention moved to the Hilton. So perfect I wondered what impact closing the ride would have on the annual convention.

What did he find out? You can read the rest of his post here.

— Geoff Boucher

Photo by Sarah Gerke

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