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Star Trek Adventure

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Star Trek Adventure attraction logo
For the Special Entertainment Events traveling museum exhibit, please see Star Trek: The Adventure.

Star Trek Adventure was a US$7 million live-action performance attraction at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park in Los Angeles, California from 1988 until 1994, licensed by Paramount Pictures. In the performance, ten volunteers from the audience were dressed in Starfleet uniforms, placed on sets and coached to deliver scripted dialog for several Star Trek scenes with Captain Kirk, Spock, Doctor McCoy, and Montgomery Scott. Four audience members competed for the role of the Klingon captain in a growl-off, with the runners up playing his crew members. A very young audience member became a "puppy lizard", based on Kruge's Klingon reptilian dog seen in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Other audience members played the alien Preceptors, who were testing both crews via mind control. The scenes were recorded on video, inter-cut with stock footage from the movies, edited into a short film, and shown to the audience. The "actors" had the opportunity to purchase a VHS copy of their video after the show for US$29.95 (plus tax). The Los Angeles venue opened on 9 June 1988 with Gene Roddenberry and the cast (excepting Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner) in attendance.

Constitution refit USS Enterprise studio model in Universal Studios Star Trek Adventure video

The Enterprise model in newly shot scenes for the Adventure video

The video featured additional visual effects of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey and the refit-USS Enterprise which was not covered by stock footage from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. These effects, deemed necessary to cover the story-line of the video (specifically for the scenes where the two vessels encounter the "fantastic space creatures"), were separately shot at Universal Studios. To this end, the actual production studio models of the two vessels were sent to Universal. However, the Enterprise model was endowed with high-gloss paint, which had previously already bedeviled Industrial Light & Magic when shooting the model for the movie features (see: main article for particulars). In order to work around the problem, the effects crew at Universal performed an act of vandalism on the US$150.000 model as a dismayed Bran Ferren of Associates and Ferren discovered when the model was sent to him for the effects of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier less than a year later, "One entire side of the Enterprise model was sprayed matte gray, destroying the meticulous original paint job. We had to go in and fix it before we could shoot it, which took two painters and an assistant about six weeks to do." Painstakingly refurbished, it did put unexpected additional strain on both time-schedule and production budget of an already troubled production. (American Cinematographer, July 1989, p. 83)

Sets that were (partially) recreated included a bridge of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, a transporter room, a nondescript landscape, main engineering and the bridge of the refit-USS Enterprise. The latter in particular warranted attention, as it was one of the very few times that a refit-Enterprise bridge recreation has seen the day of light, as it has been the original Enterprise bridge, considered the quintessential Star Trek set by many in the Star Trek community, which was the one that has been recreated numerous times for these kind of occasions. Production companies who have worked on the attraction included, Task Research, McFadden Systems, and Smith Bruni Design. [1]

A parallel performance, featuring another (less ambitious) story-line, opened in March 1991 at Universal's Orlando, Florida theme-park location, as one of two "The Screen Test Home Video Adventures", and differing in this respect that there bluescreen techniques were used to insert guest footage into scenes with Star Trek actors, whereas the Los Angeles version intercut additional scenes shot earlier with the guest cast on replica sets in the new, 1,200 seat Panasonic Theater into the short film. The Orlando venue was closed on 11 November 1996, whereas the Hollywood venue had closed two years earlier. [2] [3]


From the first edition brochure, 1988
"OPENS JUNE: Beam aboard the bridge of the Starship ENTERPRISE. Your mission? To explore the limits of your imagination with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. To battle Klingons, space creatures and alien superbeings! To boldly go where no man has gone before.
"To have the dream of a lifetime come true–and to live it!"
From the 25th Anniversary brochure, 1989
"Based on one of the most popular series on television, Star Trek® Adventure is our latest and greatest live-action show. At each performance, members of the audience are selected to join Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock in battling Klingons, fantastic space creatures and alien superbeings. Then only minutes later, you see these scenes videotaped and edited into actual Star Trek footage. You may go in a spectator and come out a star!"

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.


Partly due to the different ways the approximately ten-minute videos were compiled, partly for commercial reasons, two different plot-lines were employed on the two Adventure venues.

Hollywood venue plotEdit

"Captain's log, stardate 4121.7. We are en-route to Acamar 7, an obscure planet on the border of the Klingon Neutral Zone. Starfleet Command has directed us to investigate strange signals, which has been received from the planet. Although this is a dangerous mission, I am confident in the capabilities of my new crew, who are seasoned professionals, intently serious about their mission, the best assembled crew in the entire Starfleet Command. I am proud to serve with them. Mr. Spock has picked up an unusual energy force emanating from the planet."

The Enterprise sets course to Acamar 7, but once arriving there, is intercepted by a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, whose captain immediately decides on attacking the Enterprise. However, during mid-battle, both vessels are rendered inoperative by a strange energy field, which is suspected to originate from the planet. Deciding to investigate, an away team is beamed down, only to discover a Klingon away team as well. Fighting ensues between the two teams, until a strange creature attacks the Klingons. Putting aside their prejudices, the Starfleet team members save the Klingons, much to the latter's dismay, as they felt dishonored by it. Returning to their respective vessels, Enterprise finds itself attacked by a larger version of the creature. The Klingon captain sees an opportunity to redeem himself and his crew and reciprocally save Enterprise by destroying the creature.

Only then is it revealed that both crews have experienced an illusion, created by an omnipotent species, the Preceptors, who had done so in order to show both crews the error of their ways. Properly edified, both ships are then sent on their way.

In plot, this "adventure" is very reminiscent of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Errand of Mercy". The video registration of this plot variant lacked the introduction, the below-mentioned variant had.

Orlando venue plotEdit

Gene Roddenberry introduces the video as an episode of Star Trek where, for the first time, guest stars (the volunteers) will play the Captain of the Enterprise and the Vulcan science officer. He then shows a peek at the rehearsal session with the actors and their two directors, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Shatner says that emotion is the key to playing the Captain. Nimoy says that all traces of emotion should be removed from the Vulcan science officer's performance. Then, at the same time, both directors say that their respective roles are the most important. Both taken aback, the directors debate whether or not their role is the most important until the actors playing the Captain and the Vulcan demand they stop arguing. Impressed, the directors agree that it is time for these actors "to boldly go where no man has gone before".

"Medical log, stardate 8707.2. Dr. McCoy reporting. The crew of the Enterprise is busy readying itself for an ordeal that I am sure will be trying: a Starfleet training mission. Below us on Earth, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock are attending a conference at Federation headquarters, which makes them unable to help supervise the new graduates. But at least I'm not alone in this endeavor. Uhura, Chekov, Sulu and Scotty are aboard too, and you couldn't ask for better instructions than that."

On the bridge of the Enterprise, Uhura informs McCoy that the graduates are ready to beam aboard. As they beam from Earth to the Enterprise's transporter room, they are greeted by Scotty who informs them that they are expected on the bridge. As they arrive on the bridge, McCoy nurses his nervous stomach and has to keep reminding himself that it is only a training mission. Two of the graduates begin pushing buttons that accidentally activates red alert, but Sulu turns it off and asks that they not touch anything while Chekov laughs. Then, they decide that they want to launch phasers until Chekov warns them that it would be very dangerous. The Captain and the new Vulcan science officer greet the bridge while McCoy expresses his disdain for Vulcans.

Out in space, the Enterprise detects another Federation ship, which Uhura notes will not respond to communications. The Captain notes that the ship either can't or won't respond, while McCoy sarcastically agrees. Krull, a brash young Klingon in control of the Federation ship, displays excitement at the prospect of engaging Kirk and the Enterprise.


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