Star Trek The AdventureBy AntonyF
Posted at January 19, 2003 - 11:04 PM GMT
Star Trek The Adventure is billed by promoters as "a day of wonder for the whole family". It's a mobile Star Trek event, which features props and rides, and it's for "anyone who's a fan of excitement, adventure and the exploration of the furthest limits of the human imagination." The event is mobile, and was originally meant to be leaving Hyde Park in the UK at the end of January, but it has now been extended until the end of March.
Where do I start, with something like Star Trek The Adventure? Well, at the beginning. It was at the ticket office that I parted with my well earned money, and quite a chunk of it too. £17.50 for admission was very steep, and I believed that before I even knew what was inside. It would have to be something pretty stellar to be worth £17.50. Four of us went to visit the event, and that's quite a lot of cash. This must be unfair to families in particular; I dread to think what the total cost would have come to for the average family probably too prohibitive for many.
To add insult to injury, it didn't stop there. I presented my credit card to pay, and they informed me that there was a £2.50 credit card surcharge. £2.50?! "That's a rip off," I told the ticket seller. "Yeah," was his flat reply. So why, oh why is there such a charge? If you're paying that amount of money, you most certainly would expect them to absorb the cost. If they are going to pass on the cost, then you at least expect it to be a fair fee. Considering that the cost to them is probably about £0.50, they are taking advantage of people in a big, big way. A friend lent me cash to pay so that I could avoid the extra cost, but two of us still had to pay this rip-off surcharge.
But, enough of money talk. What about the event? We were ushered into the Adventure itself, a sort of semi-permanent tent, by staff that thought they were cattle herding. After deciding not to leave stuff in the cloakroom (which would have probably cost more) we entered the initial area of the exhibition. Here, finally, there was a distinct taste of Trek.
It was a mad rush to see anything, people barging from all directions. We had various display cabinets with some props from various episodes. Some of the props did look decidedly dodgy, like they'd been down the local hardware store and knocked something up quickly. This could be the joy of TV, that items just look so much more real on TV. But some of the props... well, it's amazing they can look like anything but tacky toys on our favourite Trek shows.
There were various LCARS displays on the walls (my favourite being the Wolf 359 tactical deployment), but the good ones were few and far between. Most displays were more of an old style, from a ship such as the Excelsior I believe. They weren't showing anything in particular though, they were just panels. The end result is simple though: it was a lot of dull displays. Mixed amongst them was a few TV screens with moving LCARS displays — nothing you can't see in a computer game, or on a decent website. Finally, amongst all this, were a few main props. A Klingon chair, for example, and Picard's desk from 'Nemesis'.
I did feel particularly underwhelmed by this initial part, to be honest. The props weren't very interesting, most of the displays were boring, but at least the Wolf 359 tactical display was cool. It took me a while to realise, however, that something else was going on. People had electronic gadgets that they were listening to. I had to ask someone what they were. It seemed I'd missed it as I came in, obviously eager to get exploring, that they were selling audio guides. So you go around, and the machine talks to at various points. I was somewhat annoyed that I'd missed it, but then something occurred to me — this explains why there was a complete lack of information about anything! Not even a card in the display case explaining something about the item in question. So if you didn't pay for the guide, you were learning nothing! And yes, you had to pay for the guide, as if there was any doubt.
Leaving the initial area, you enter the main arena. You are presented with more props, this time from 'Nemesis'. It was quite appealing, as it was new, and with a lack of anything from Enterprise it was the most up to date display. So there was a whole area dedicated to 'Nemesis', along with a big screen playing the trailer. As nice as the props were, the trailer was the most exciting feature of the exhibit.
Branching off from here, there were props. And uniforms. And more uniforms. And some props. Oh, and some uniforms. Although not particular engaging for me, the sheer amount of them just makes you so bored after a few seconds. It is just uniforms and costumes, stuck in display cases with no further information.
There was the odd cool prop admittedly, I think the best one was the stone tablet that Sisko took from B'Hala. But really, there just wasn't enough variety and originality to inspire any thoughts, or engage discussion. At least in this case, I could talk about what the tablet was to my friends, what happened to it, and Winn and Sisko's arguments. Seven of Nine's costume naturally illicited some conversation too. But on the whole, it was just costumes, with no particular story or history to them. Boring, in a word. I dread to think what the audio guide was trying to find to say.
It's at this point where I was feeling rather deflated. I'd been around most of it, I was bored, and I'd seen nothing of wonder or excitement. My friends were feeling the same way too. So it was time for to go for the main event, the Voyager shuttle simulation. This should at least be exciting. But how wrong can one (or in this case four) be.
We were put into the 'shuttlecraft', and had some safety talk from a member of staff. She tried to get into the spirit, telling us we'd be back on Earth soon blah blah blah. It's from their script obviously, it's meant to add to the fun, but the staff member just delivered her lines and looked embarrassed to even be there. She gave us about as much conviction as a Ferengi arguing for a pension plan.
The shuttle craft itself was just a box, with black walls, and a small fuzzy TV screen in the front. I've seen better quality on my TV at home. The seating arrangement means that you can barely see any of it anyway, if you're at the back. The ride began, and we were nearly thrown out of our seats. The machine throws you around with wild abandon, and with no relevance or tact relating to the story. You're just thrown. And with no seatbelt and a slippery hand rail, you find yourself bashing into everyone. Well, it was realistic to Star Trek in one way at least.
The video itself was appalling. Aside from being poor in visual quality, it was devoid of any imagination. You are flying through a Borg cube, you get back to Earth, you land. That is it. During which time, you have some god-awful "crewmember" voices. "This doesn't look good," I believe the crew member said about the Borg ship. Well, flying through a Borg ship wouldn't be good as a rule. But I can't help but think he was talking about the simulation, rather than the fictional enemy. Aside from all this, playing the Star Trek: Voyager theme is just too self-referential anyway, and just adds to the false feeling of it all.
We were welcomed back to Earth by our embarrassed-to-be-there friend, and I ran. I was expecting to take multiple rides, but once was just enough. Add to this, my shoulder hurt from my attempts to remain seated and secure in the mockery of a ride. This ride could have only been worse if you had to sit in a chair, while a someone rocked it behind it and mimiced phaser noises in your ear.
By this time, we were all feeling utterly dejected and fed up. We hadn't even been there long. But bored was the name of the game, so we wanted out. We certainly didn't want to have our photo taken with Captain Kirk, or a (appalling, by what I could see on a screen) video of us in a Star Trek episode. It was just more money fleecing, and the money we'd spent was quite enough.
So we headed for the big event, the thing that had the biggest queue and most attention. The exit.
Yes, it's ironic that the exit has the biggest queue, albeit via another ride. We'd had enough and wanted out, but at least it's via one last event — the Enterprise D bridge. After queuing for a bit, we were taking into a reasonably cool engineering section. A bit of light flashing etc, a ride in a turbolift, and then a trip to the Bridge. The bridge was just like the Star Trek Experience in Vegas... not quite real, but still quite a blast to be on. We were 'treated' to some passable content on the viewscreen, before our embarrassed-to-be-there friend (the same one as earlier) informed us we were safe from Borg attacks, and we were sent out of the exhibition. Although this last part was okay, we were feeling so despondent by this point anyway, we didn't really care. It was too little, too late. But as it was still the best part of the event, you could only view it on your way out. It's rather sneaky, as they know it's a thing that people would be inclined to do more than once... so they don't let you.
I likened the bridge to the Star Trek Experience in Vegas, but its look was where the similarity ended. The Vegas experience had actors like Jonathan Frakes in the video segments, and you had real people in uniforms talking in time with the voiceovers, as if you're in the middle of a predicament. Not at the Adventure however. You have crewmembers talking on the bridge (from the speakers), yet you look around and no one is there. Apart from our trusty guide, who's standing in the corner looking bored.
After you leave the bridge, the final part of your trip is the shop. Naturally. There's lots of Adventure tack, basically. Some nice pictures were there, ruined by having the Star Trek The Adventure written all over it. This applies to pretty much everything in the shop. For a mere £70, a Star Trek The Adventure fleece was up for grabs. It's almost a joke. It's funny though, and interesting to know, that there was certainly a higher concentration of staff in the shop than the Adventure itself.
You then exit the shop, to enter another shop and selling area. Here they will try to flog you a credit card, Flashmedia card (which does look interesting, and I will hopefully do a full review of at another time) and Star Trek DVDs and videos. DVDs and videos at, surprise surprise, largely inflated prices. Why pay £50 for season one of TNG on Amazon when you can pay £85? Not even the expensive shops in the UK charge the full RRP of £85! The films and videos were, likewise, way way overpriced. One friend pointing out that a DVD was almost 200% more expensive than he paid in another place.
After this shop, we finally escaped, and were outside. We were all unanimous that it was not a good event. That comes from die hard fans, and a casual fan too. If you get the impression from this review that we were moving with increased speed to get out of the event, you'd be right. That was the feeling that was setting in the more we were there.
Star Trek has often got a bad reputation for being just a money grabbing franchise, but I've never felt that was a deserved reputation. You don't have to buy everything, and there's a lot of decent merchandise and programming available to us which is great. However, it's also hard to convey what a complete travesty of an exhibition this was. Contrary to my opinion on the franchise as a whole, this event's intention seemed purely to fleece as much money from anyone passing its doors. As it's transient, moving somewhere else soon (although I hear it's been extended to April in Hyde Park), it just adds to the hit and run feeling. They grab your money, and away they go. The only effective ride was the one they take us for.
The event seems to have one purpose in mind: to fleece money. There doesn't seem to be an attempt to look it is doing otherwise either. There's the high £17.50 cost, the credit card surcharge which is about 400% more than it should be, the costs for guides (then not giving any information anywhere to spite people who didn't pay), the costs for pictures and videos, and the final slap in the face with overpriced videos and DVDs.
So, can we say that the event is accurate at least? Well, aside from its complete lack of inspiration, they don't even bother at times to look like they even care about getting it correct. Star Trek fans are well known for having a high attention to detail (I most certainly notice details). So a Star Trek event should have a high attention to detail, shouldn't it? You'd think so.
Just slapping any old commbadges onto uniforms, so that many are wrong, doesn't endear the event to me. I don't remember Chief O'Brien's rank insignia just being a sewn image on his uniform, rather than metal badge-like device. So yes, like that's really a uniform from the show! The holographic creator prop from DS9's "Shadowplay" was there, but in the episode I don't remember black masking tape all over it, holding it together.
They had a few overhead monitors, showing clips from various episodes, and had Rick Berman waxing lyrical about the show. The fact that they wrongly attribute clips to episodes isn't good, and annoys me as a Trek fan. Since when does the Odyssey get destroyed by Jem'Hadar in "Through the Looking Glass"? Then a few clips later, you see the Odyssey fending off an attack, and it's attributed to yet another episode.
We also have these Voyager shuttle rides, which I've talked about above, where they get Voyager's registry number wrong. This is appalling, and could have been done correctly with just a little bit of research! It's these things that Trek fans notice, and destroy any credibility that the event might have had.
All in all, it was not a good experience on so many levels. I'd like to say it had some redeeming qualities, but really it didn't. I just felt that they'd got a tent, slapped 'Star Trek' up on the front and I was fleeced of my cash by a load of Ferengi. It wreaks of money grabbing, there's obvious mistakes, the staff looked bored and embarrassed. It looked uninspired, and at the end of the day was just costumes and some poor simulator rides.
I don't recommend this to anyone. Not even a casual fan (the casual fan amongst us was unimpressed, so it's not just a fan being picky). It will drain your money fast, especially if you have a family to take.
Invest your money into something else. Go and see 'Nemesis', buy some of the Trek films on DVD, or just buy something that you can all enjoy and will last you for a long time. This abomination will just leave you with a nasty taste in your mouth, whether you're a casual fan or an avid one. Avoid it at all costs.
AntonyF is a writer for TrekToday. He also runs his own Babylon 5 website called B5TV.COM, and does freelance writing and interviewing. By day, he works in the wonderful world of marketing.