by Mark Mayer | For a Trekkie like myself who faithfully watched Captain Kirk, Spock and the Klingons through my grown up years and kept in touch with the changes spanning four decades, its sad to see the end of an era at the Las Vegas Hilton. After a 10-year run, the Star Trek Experience will shut down for good Monday.
Sagging attendance is causing the Experience (a combination museum, Space Quest Casino, simulator and massive gift shop) to head to another galaxy. Star Trek created an unparalleled cult that began with the TV show, spread to 10 movies and spawned conventions and apparel. For those in Vegas hoping to continue the Trek connection, there are rumors of another movie slated to be released next May.
The Las Vegas attraction has drawn more than three million visitors since opening in 1998.
The attraction was owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which could not reach an agreement with the Hilton to extend the lease. There have been unsubstantiated reports that the space would be refurbished as a theater for pop star Michael Jackson.
The lease for the Experience officially ends Dec. 31, but Hilton sources said that it would take four months to disassemble the various parts of the exhibit. The Experience was created as a mythology of the show, referred to on the Hilton website as "a 21st century time station used to transport personnel and equipment to and from the late 24th century."
The Hilton reportedly invested more than $100 million since 2004 to rejuvenate the Experience. Next years convention will again take place at the Hilton, but sources say a deal has not been set for 2010.