Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Is Universal Studios Planning a Star Trek Land For Universal Orlando 4th theme Park ?

We're back today at Universal Orlando for a new rumor, and this time it's about a Star Trek land that it seems Universal Creatives are thinking to include in the upcoming - but not announced yet - 4th Theme Park.

Lance Hart from Screamscape talked about Star Trek last month, but as a new show that would come eventually in the now extinct Terminator 2 3D building, and i asked my source if there was any truth in it. The reply was "Lance is correct that a live stage show is getting shuffled between the Bourne Identity or Star Trek, and a Star Trek Sci-Fi area is being highly considered to hit back WDW DHS Star Wars land. If Universal do a Star Trek Sci-Fi area, it will be very Sci-Fi city like and not too alien planet like most would think... and with an anchor attraction. And may be something very similar to the recently announced Sci-Fi "Transformers" area going to Universal Beijing"

Apparently Universal don’t want to make just a generic themed area like Tomorrowland. According to my source, "the days of random themed areas with 5 IPs around each other are gone and they are going to transition each area nicely". By the way, talking about the T2 3D building, my source added that "the Shrek attraction is safe until they come up with whatever will take over the old Terminator building".

So, apparently it seems that so far it'll be either a Bourne Identity or a Star Trek attraction that will come in the T2 3D building. OR they'll keep Star Trek as the "Tomorrowland" land for the 4th theme park, which in my opinion will be a much better idea.

The problem with the Star Trek universe is that there is ennemies but not necessarily a lot of iconic planet locations, visually speaking. I don't mean that there is no memorable planets in the Star Trek series, i mean that, except for the Trekkies, they are less known by a wide audience than the Star Wars planets. Anyway, you see  what i mean...

The real icon of the series is the Enterprise - everybody knows the ship, even non Trekkies - and each Star Trek fan is dreaming to be on board of the Enterprise. So, what they should do if Universal Creatives have the guts - and the money! - to do it is to build a giant real size Enterprise like the one that was planned for Las Vegas years ago, and unfortunately cancelled. And then to have the attractions inside it. Here is the rendering of the Las Vegas project which was designed at that time by Landmark Entertainment, the previous company of Gary Goddard.

Okay, it's huge, i agree, but, hey, it's the size of the ENTERPRISE! The other good point in the idea of building a real size Enterprise for a Star Trek land is the spaceship crew. You can make the spaceship "alive" with dozens of cast-members / actors / extras who would each play their role and will contribute to create an immersive and reliable Star Trek experience. They did it in a smaller scale at the now extinct Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas and it worked pretty well ( see video below).

Talking about Star Trek Experience, let's have a look back at it with a previous D&M article with originals artworks - painted by the great Eric Heschong who unfortunately passed away - as it might help you to visualize what i mean, how great the theming could be and why Universal should build a Star Trek land in the future 4th theme park.

Previous Disney and more article: 

I will begin by what was probably the most incredible idea for a Star Trek theme park/attraction concept with the rendering above. As you can see this incredible concept envisioned a REAL SIZE Enterprise, and we all know how huge is supposed to be the Enterprise! Inside, guests would have found themed Star Trek attractions. Please double-click on the image to see the artwork in high-resolution as it is a big WOW!

This amazing project unfortunately not realised has a story. Years ago, the Las Vegas Down Town hotels association, aware that the new Strip's hotels were getting most of the visitors, wanted to create a unique attraction to be located down town Las Vegas. Different companies created concepts, including Landmark with this amazing Star Trek concept, but, although they loved Landmark's idea their final choice went to the Fremont Street Experience.

When i saw that incredible rendering i thought that the biggest problem may have been the architecture engineering - after all the Enterprise is design for outerspace, not for Earth gravity. The front dome and the wings may have been an engineering problem, but it seems that, no, that was not the problem. An estimated cost around $200 M (at that time) was reasonable - specially considering the size, and all we can wish to this amazing project is to exist one day as it will be the "ultimate" Trekkie dream, finally existing for real.

The next rendering below shows a "night" scene of the same concept.

Now, as we know, another Star Trek attraction was finally built in Las Vegas. Unfortunately closed recently, the Star Trek Experience was incredibly successful at its opening - it was another Trekkie-wet-dream-come-true and i have many renderings of it for you today.

The Las Vegas Star Trek Experience attraction opened in January 1998 at the Las Vegas Hilton and closed in September 2008. When it opened the main attraction was a simulator ride called The Klingon Encounter. The pavilion underwent one major renovation in 2004 which added the Borg Invasion 4-D attraction, which used state-of-the-art amusement technology where guests experienced an encounter with the Borg. The artwork below released for the press before the opening in 1998 focus only on the first version of Star Trek Experience.

Above and below two beautiful renderings showing the entrance of Las Vegas Star Trek Experience.

After purchasing a ticket, which allowed the guest to board the attractions an unlimited amount of times that day, one walked through a museum that included numerous items from Star Trek history - top of the rendering below. It also featured several video display devices and a timeline of Star Trek events. Later, there were displays for each of the major alien races, which included the Borg, Klingons, and Ferengi. The last section of the museum was a hallway that served as the attraction queues. The left side was for the Borg Invasion 4-D, and the right side was for Klingon Encounter. Because the Borg ride held about twice as many people, that line moved more quickly (each show lasted about 18 minutes). The Klingon Encounter held 27 people while the Borg Invasion 4-D held 48 people. Each show was constructed so that those "in the back" for the first part of the show would, in turn, likely end up in the front for the second half of either show.

After the attraction guests could enjoyed the merchandise shop and especially the Quark's Bar that you can see on the rendering below.

The Klingon encounter attraction was the one at the opening. Initially, the visitors entered first a small room with a depiction of "outer space". A small television in the upper right corner of the room displayed scenes from several Star Trek movies.

The group then entered a smaller, dimly lit waiting area of a traditional simulator ride. Visitors lined up in rows in front of doors, as hosts direct their attention to the screens above for a safety demo for the shuttlecraft simulator ride. A few moments into the film, the televisions flickered, malfunctioned, and the lights went out. A variety of loud noises accompanied by hundreds of small light flashes that visually simulate the "transporter effect," along with the transporter sound effect and a rush of cold air (which, according to backstage tour guides, was an unintentional but appreciated effect caused by a false room being raised into the ceiling). When the lights returned, the walls and floor and ceiling have apparently disappeared and you were on a transporter pad (a room much larger than you were previously standing, without the doors you were ready to walk through!). You are now aboard the USS Enterprise-D, transporter room as seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

On the transporter pad, a uniformed Starfleet officer asked for the leaders of the group and directed them away for instruction. It was explained that the visitors were beamed aboard the Starship Enterprise to "what you would call the future" and the group is then led to the bridge.

The group stood on the rear between the science stations and the tactical station. There were various busy crewmembers on the bridge, and they contact Commander Riker, who promptly appears on the main viewscreen. Riker explained that Captain Picard disappeared the moment the group beamed aboard the Enterprise and thus one member of the group must be Picard's ancestor. A nefarious rogue Klingon Commander named Korath used a hidden time-rift to abduct Picard's ancestor and erase him from the timeline. Starfleet intelligence, having learned of the plan, dispatched the Enterprise to intercept the Klingon's transporter beam and rescue the entire group. Riker directs the group to board a shuttlecraft to go escape the temporal rift, and return all guests to their original time.

While the group was in the turbolift, the Klingons attack the Enterprise and the turbolift enters a free fall. There are several jolts on the turbolift during the attack. Finally, the group arrives in the Grand Corridor and at the shuttle bay deck.
Below, a rendering of the Grand Corridor.

The group boarded the shuttlecraft. The shuttle ride began with a battle between the Enterprise and a few Klingon vessels...

Then, the shuttle went into warp and was then instructed to find and destroy a cloaking generator on the planet's surface. There were several dogfights and visual effects during this time.

The shuttle then returned through the temporal rift to present-day Las Vegas (although filmed almost 10 years ago, things as the Sands Hotel tower, a sign promoting Siegfried & Roy, might lead one to believe the shuttle returned prior to their abduction). Unfortunately a Klingon ship followed, however Enterprise saved the shuttle at the last minute. The 'real' shuttle landed at the Las Vegas Hilton right next to the "motion simulators" shuttles the visitors were originally waiting to enter when they were "beamed off" at the start of the story. Before the crew of the Enterprise leaves, Captain Picard thanks the crew for "restoring his existence." He says, "While only one of you is my ancestor, each of you hold that same opportunity for the future. Guard it well."

Typically a custodian led the group to an elevator and then out to the Deep Space Nine Promenade and Quark's Bar.

A new attraction - Borg Encounter - was added in 2004, and you'll find more details about it on the Wikipedia page from where most of the description text of this article is coming from.

Another great idea of Star Trek Experience was the theming of the casino - we're in Las Vegas, let's not forget it...It was originally themed as if it was an outer space casino and through the window bays one could see views of outer space supposed to give the feeling that the casino was a kind of space station. Unfortunately after some years they canceled these rear-projections effect and when i visited the attraction five years ago it was not there any more.

I remember that I loved this Star Trek Experience, the teleportation room, the Enterprise bridge, the grand corridor, all this was wonderfully done, and i was sad to hear its closure in September 2008...

End of previous D&M article

And now here is a video showing the full Las Vegas Star Trek Experience with both the Klingon Encounter and the Borg Invasion. After the "live action" parts,  guests of the Klingon Encounter embark for a simulator ride and the Borg Invasion was a 4D experience, but the most important here is the acting part and the theming of the decors to show the potential that a Star Trek land can have to make the experience both immersive and enjoyable for Universal guests. That said, may be Universal won't do a Star Trek land in the new park but only an attraction in the T2 3D show building and that will be all what we'll get...

One more thing: the Star Trek license may look less solid than the Star Wars one and years ago, before the new movies, we could hear that "the Star Trek license was dead", but the truth is that it's not dead at all with the new TV series Star Trek : Discovery which started last year and two new movies in preparation, including one rumored to be directed by  ...Quentin Tarantino! And most of all Star Trek is not only about battles with Klingon or Borgs but also about a positive vision of the future and hope between intergalactic races and, boy, do we need a bright vision of the future, don't we? So, go ahead Universal and build a Star Trek land, do it right with plenty of live action and extras and it will be a success from day one!

Artwork: copyright Landmark, Landmark entertainment, Star Trek is copyright Paramount Pictures and CBS

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such an interesting topic!! I SO HOPE THAT STAR TREK comes to BOTH! Why not have a Star Fleet Academy attraction at Terminator. . . . train to be a part of Star Fleet. . .then in the new park HAVE A STAR TREK LAND. . . OR SHIP!

One interesting observation. I was in the old gift shop last week that was at the exit to TERMINATOR . . . there is a display of Star Trek souvenirs facing the exit!!! I thought it seemed like an Omen. . . I really hope that Star Trek will be utilized in both Universal Studios Florida and the new park!

See how well it has worked for Potter in both Islands and USF AND how Disney has Frozen at multiple parks! PLEASE GIVE US SOME GREAT SCIFI IN BOTH PARKS!!!