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Artist's rendering of Starship Enterprise and downtown Las Vegas Skyline facing directly down Fremont Street

(The real winner of the 1992 downtown Las Vegas redevelopment competition was NOT the FREMONT EXPERIENCE – it was the STARSHIP ENTERPRISE from STAR TREK.  But no one knows this – until now.)

Concept Rendering of the 1st concept for loading guests onto the Starship Enterprise

Gary Goddard looks back on what really happened back in 1992 when the Downtown City Fathers were looking for a way to revitalize the downtown core and attract more visitors. 

In 1992 downtown Las Vegas had become a distant second to the Las Vegas Strip.  Where at one time, downtown Las Vegas was the center of the action, the increasing magnitude of the Las Vegas Strip, with the expansion of Caesar’s Palace, the Mirage having opened, and with more and more mega resorts on the way, 80% of the Las Vegas market was now on the Strip, leaving only 20% for the downtown casinos and hotels.  The loss of business was turning the downtown area into a “ghost town” and something needed to be done quickly. The city needed an attraction – something of enough size and power to bring the people back to the downtown area.

They put the word out and a number of ideas were considered, with only two of the concepts getting down to the finals.  One was “THE FREMONT EXPERIENCE”; and the other was “THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE”. THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE was created and designed by Gary Goddard and his team of designers at Landmark – Designer: Chuck Canciller; Illustrator: Greg Pro; Planner: Mac MacElrevey.

The competition called for something that would “become an attraction of such magnitude that it would draw people from the strip,” and ideally it was to also provide “a destination attraction” that would “re-establish the downtown core as the center of the action in Las Vegas.” A major task – one that would be almost impossible to achieve.  The other catch was it could not be a hotel or a casino because the other hotels and casinos in the area were going to be paying for this attraction to bring people to THEIR places of business, not to have another competitor down the street.

My concept was to do something so large and so epic, it would fire the imaginations of people around the world.  After looking at how difficult it would be to bring people to the downtown core (from the Strip), I knew we had to have something really exciting, dynamic, and without equal.  We kicked around a few ideas, and then I came up with something really unique.  I went to Chuck Canciller, my lead designer then – and a genius as well – and said, “What if we built the STARSHIP ENTERPRISE – FULL SCALE  – on the land at the end of the street.  Imagine that…”  Chuck looked at me as if I had lost my mind, but by that time he also knew I was serious about big ideas like this.  He immediately started working on some ideas.

My gut hunch was that this was the single best solution to the city’s lists of goals as it exceeded their criteria:

  • It would, in one fell swoop, make the downtown THE destination for Las Vegas visitors.
  • It would provide international press at every step of the way, from first announcement, to ground breaking, to topping off the highest part of the ship, to opening day and through the opening month, and then continuously for special events throughout the year.
  • It would transform the downtown area, creating new jobs, stimulating growth, and would fill the hotels and casinos.
  • It would create a new “8th Wonder of the World” with an iconic monument that would take its place alongside other “must see” monuments in the world. (You would be able to see this from the airplanes as they came for landing at the Vegas airport. It’s that big.)
  • It would truly be “The World’s Largest” destination attraction and one based on a classic mythology that would be around for generations.

Presentation meeting art illustrating size, scale, and scope of project and demonstrating the plaza level view and point of entry

We learned everything we could about the Starship – its actually size and dimensions, how it would exist in “dry dock” on the planet if indeed such a situation had been possible.  We imagined what it could be, and how we might achieve it.  We got Ken Ball (former head of engineering at Disney’s MAPO) involved to figure out how to engineer and support it.  (Ultimately we realized we would need to add some supports on the outer edge of the “disc” section due to the extremely high wind conditions in Vegas.  For this we created a high tech “scaffolding structure” that gave the ship more of the appearance of being in an open-air dry dock.  I have not yet located that sketch, but I’ll try to find it.)

The “big idea” was building the ship itself at full-scale.  That was the main attraction. That being said, we also knew we would have to have some kind of “show” on board.  So, conceptually, it was to be a “tour” of the ship, with all of the key rooms, chambers, decks, and corridors that we knew from the movie.  There was to be the dining area for the ship’s crew (where you could dine in Star Fleet comfort), and other special features.  There were also one or two interesting ride elements that we were considering including a high-speed travelator that would whisk you from deck to deck. But we were really just getting into the show aspects when everything came to a head.

During this time, as we were working out the conceptual design and plan, a licensing contract was negotiated for Paramount Studios with the terms and conditions, including a substantial rights payment up front, and on-going revenue participation, all subject to the approval of the Studio Chairman, which “would not be a problem” if the project was approved.  As you can see, from the designs we’ve shown here, we got pretty far down the road, with drawings, renderings, engineering studies, construction cost estimates – about $150,000,000 (in 1992 dollars) — we were ready to go.  I had Greg Pro working on it, I had Dan Gozee (long time Disney Imagineering illustrator) on it, and we were really into the whole idea.  Everyone was excited. This was going to be a world-class iconic project that would become an international sensation from the moment it was announced.

A later development sketch indicating development of roadway around plaza facing Fremont Street

The Las Vegas downtown redevelopment committee had made its decision, along with Mayor Jan Jones.  I was called to a meeting and told, privately, that THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE was the choice of the committee, but they wanted confirmation that Paramount would indeed approve the deal. While Paramount Licensing loved it, and Sherry Lansing (then President of the Studio) loved it, it was made clear to us that a decision of this magnitude would need to have the approval of the Studio CEO who, at that time was Stanley Jaffe.

To make a long story short, Paramount (Licensing) and the redevelopment committee negotiated a basic deal, subject to the approval of the Studio Chairman. The Mayor of Las Vegas was involved and had also approved the basic deal. So everything came down to a major presentation at Paramount Studios on one weekday afternoon.

The Mayor flew in on a private jet along with the representatives from the downtown redevelopment committee.   Sherry Lansing was there, the Paramount Studios licensing group executives were there, several key executives at Paramount were there, and of course, Stanley Jaffe, the decision maker. To be clear, EVERYONE loved the project up to this point — the entire Vegas downtown redevelopment committee loved the concept, the Mayor loved it, the Paramount Studios Vice President of Licensing and the entire licensing department loved it, as did Sherry Lansing.  Everyone loved it – but now it was up to one man.  Stanley Jaffe.

And I will never forget this meeting.

All of our work, the effort to get Paramount, the Mayor, and redevelopment committee aligned, everything had come to this moment.  We were ready to go.  Money in place, land provided by the city, license for the property negotiated with Paramount licensing – all set.  If Mr. Jaffe says “yes” and we are a “go” project. And the city wanted to have a press conference within a week announcing the project.

So with everyone in the room, I take Mr. Jaffe through the project. With the art, the plans, the overall concept. After my spirited “pitch” everyone was beaming – everyone except Mr. Jaffe.  Mr. Jaffe thanked us for the effort, and he congratulated us on creating a bold concept and presentation, and then went into a speech that went something like this:

“You know, this is a major project.  You’re going to put a full-scale ENTERPRISE up in the heart of Las Vegas.  And on one hand that sounds exciting.  But on another hand, it might not be a great idea for us – for Paramount.”  Everyone in the room was stunned, most of all, me, because I could see where this was going.  “In the movie business, when we produce a big movie and it’s a flop – we take some bad press for a few weeks or a few months, but then it goes away.  The next movie comes out and everyone forgets.  But THIS – this is different. If this doesn’t work – if this is not a success – it’s there, forever….”  I remember thinking to myself “oh my god, this guy does NOT get it….”  And he said “I don’t want to be the guy that approved this and then it’s a flop and sitting out there in Vegas forever.”

And with that, Mr. Jaffe in a single moment, destroyed about five months of work by a host of people, and killed one of the greatest ideas of all time.

Stanley waltzed out of the room and I think everyone was stunned.  No one could believe it. But our dream pretty much ended there.  Sherry Lansing was stunned and apologized to the room and followed her boss out. The Paramount licensing team was embarrassed to say the least, and of course, they were also realizing they had just lost out on millions of dollars in future licensing revenues too. The Mayor and the redevelopment committee were just depressed I think.  But they thanked me for all the efforts I put into it, and for making the meetings with Paramount possible, and then they headed back to Las Vegas.

So, with THE STAR TREK ENTEPRISE now officially off the table, the city awarded the competition to the #2 concept – the big rooftop “video screen” that became THE FREMONT EXPERIENCE – which – while lacking the imagination, majesty, power and iconic nature of the STARSHIP ENTERPRISE, still managed to turn the downtown area around for about five years.  So given that, imagine what the ENTERPRISE would have done.

Fan or not, visitors to Las Vegas would have HAD to go see this and get their photo taken there.

The fact is, had Mr. Jaffe approved the project, it would have been the most memorable project in his life, it would have been a financial boon to Paramount, still paying the Studio to this day. And it would have been a great part of his legacy, the Paramount legacy, and the Star Trek legacy.

Albert Einstein said it best: “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

As part of the presentation, we prepared a "relative sizing" chart of how large the Starship Enterprise was compared to other world-class monuments

This project was one of my greatest disappointments because we had come so CLOSE.  We were in the room.  Financing was there.  Land was there. Everyone involved wanted it to happen.  And one person entered the room and killed it.

Given the vision and the work that went into it, I am happy now to share some of the creative and planning work that went into this project. I continue to believe this was, and is, a great concept.  Perhaps it will find a home somewhere else in the world, who knows?

EVENTUALLY a Star Trek attraction did make its way to Las Vegas, circa 1998, and Mr. Goddard was at the center of that creation as well.  We will follow up with the story on the creation, design, production and opening of STAR TREK: THE EXPERIENCE in our next follow up blog posting.

Preliminary poster art designed for presentation to Paramount Studios



Star Trek ® is a registered trademark of Paramount Pictures registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Star Trek ©, Star Trek: The Next Generation ©, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ©, Star Trek: Voyager ©, and Star Trek: Enterprise © are  Trademarks of Paramount Pictures.



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  1. Lord Gaga

    Probably just as well. Everything in Vegas eventually is blowed up to make room for something else. It would have been like the closing of the experience and ST:III all at the same time. Heartbreaking.

  2. Kreg Steppe

    Reading through this post I can only imagine the excitement I would have felt going to this. This project sounds amazing.

    Why is it you can *now* share this with us?

  3. James Van Hise

    Actually some word of this did leak out at the time because when Star Trek: The Experience was announced I remember thinking, “Hey, I thought they were going to build a life size Enterprise? What happened?” Now I know. I don’t think that the suits at Paramount every really understood the impact of Star Trek because whenever a Star Trek movie failed they blamed fan apathy, not that the film was mediocre. A monument like this would have drawn people from all over the world. I hate Las Vegas but even I would have traveled there regularly to see this.

    • Scott Hedrick

      I saw The Experience once. This is something I very likely would have made an annual pilgrimage to. And left a lot of money behind. Each time.

  4. Rick C




    • Mark

      Mr. Jaffe hasn’t been head of Paramount since 1994. Good luck with that email campaign.

      Further, this idea was from back in 1992 – you’d need to find a whole new place to put this, the money to do it, and a reason to do it (none of the ’92 reasons or resources exist any longer).

      So… turn off the caps locks, and take a nap. 🙂

    • Hez


      Please don’t type in all caps. There’s no need to shout at us. Also, this happened twenty years ago. Mr. Jaffe is no longer at Paramount and hasn’t been for several years, so an email campaign wouldn’t do any good. Even if this project were to be resurrected, Mr. Jaffe would have nothing to do with the decision. It would be up to the current executives at Paramount to approve the project.

    • Zorin

      I agree with your statements… but is the CAPS LOCK necessary? Remember, having CAPS LOCK on automatically makes everyone thinks you have at least 20 less IQ points than you really have. 🙂

    • Jim T

      I was -so- disappointed to see that this message was signed by “Rick C” and not “Rick B”, because I was hoping beyond hope that Rick Berman had typed it.

  5. B. Futt

    Having actually been to downtown Vegas more than once, I’m sorry to say that I imagine this project–which looks absolutely wonderful in these concept drawings–would be a decrepit eyesore by now. Even the U.S.S. Enterprise couldn’t spruce up that dump of an area for long.

  6. Bob

    Start Trek makes people believe that the world and our future can be better. It can also be without money and greed and power. Such a monument to “socialistic” and “non-capitalistic” philosophies would be against what rich people want and they might even loose their control and power.

    This fantastic idea was more than an attraction, it would have become a shrine to support for a better world. This idea had to be killed just like Star Trek experience.

  7. Kevin

    This would be a great way to revitalize a waning city like Detroit MI or St. Louis MO, not sure it would have the same impact as it would in Las Vegas. I love it, going to start a Twitter campaign to make it happen somewhere some day.

  8. ElectricLion

    How could someone like Stanley Jaffe be in charge of an entertainment corporation like Paramount? He seems to have no vision at all. Why is it in our society that the most mediocre and worthless people always end up with the most authority or power?

  9. Jonathan

    Obviously, we can’t go back in time and change the past (we’re not J.J. Abrams). So instead, I look at the bright side of this. While Vegas didn’t get this attraction, it did get Stat Trek: The Experience (STTE) just six years later. And I suspect that, had the life-size Enterprise attraction been built, STTE would never have been created. Vegas doesn’t tend to do “two” of anything (there’s one Paris, one Venice, one pyramid, one Arthurian castle, etc.).

    And to be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed STTE (I worked on it twice–once writing the original menu for Quarks and, years later, in creating the 2D computer animations for Borg Invasion 4D). I love “beaming up,” standing on the Enterprise-D bridge while facing down Korath, escaping in the shuttlecraft piloted by Geordi LaForge, chatting with Vulcans, Klingons, and Borg (oh, my!) in the restaurant, going through the Museum of the Future and using up ten rolls of film (in the days before digital cameras), standing under those massive starship replicas, ordering a Warp Core Breach and a Wrap of Khan or a BBQ Continuum pizza and a Pie of the Prophets (Kai Pie), getting chased by a Borg through Copernicus Station, feeling a Borg probe in my back as nanoprobes got shot into my face, and just knowing there was a place I could wear my Starfleet uniform in “public” without feeling at all uncomfortable or gawked at (in fact, I once had a woman in Quark’s come up to me and tell me how much she’d enjoyed seeing me on TV!–I have a similar body shape as a late-season Riker and sported a goatee at the time).

    While I have no doubt that a full-scale Enterprise would have been breath-taking, STTE was just as wonderful and memorable…if not more so. There would have been no place in the Enterprise structure for something as large as a full Omnimax motion simulator ride. The tour, while awesome, would have been constrained by the narrow dimensions of the dorsal and tight corridors, allowing only a limited number of tourists at a time to see “the cool stuff.” Traveling up to the bridge would have required a long journey there and back again…like it used to be getting to the torch of the Statue of Liberty. The larger areas in the secondary hull would have been much less claustrophobic, and they would probably have included some museum aspects and a restaurant, but those things would have been less “authentic” (since the secondary hull is mostly hollow and was used for cargo storage, shuttle operations, lower Engineering, and the occasional greenhouse and bowling alley).

    I’m not saying the full-scale Enterprise would have sucked or anything–it would have been a Trekker’s wet dream! I probably would have moved to Las Vegas and rented an apartment down the street just so I could have woken up and stared at it every morning for ten years until they inevitably tore it down. But I also believe in my heart that what we did get–STTE–was more than worth it and therefore no reason to mourn (or Morn) the loss of this project that never happened. As I said, we can’t go back in time to change the past, but we do have our memories of an incredible, special attraction that DID exist.

  10. Jeremiah

    As a geek, it would have been AMAZING! But the article/blog is written as though he KNEW that this would have been a success. You know how many people “knew” their total failure of a thing was going to be “it” … most of them. It was an inspired idea, and personally, I am sad it didn’t make the cut. However, the executive was not wrong when he said: ” if this is not a success – it’s there, forever…” and, unless this man has somekind of Dead Zone / Biblical prophetic abilities, the tone of his article should be read (still) as a man who believes in his product. Nothing wrong with that, but nothing that says his belief would have paid off. If I was the Chair of Trustees for The International Reptile Society and someone wanted to build a snake museum in the shape of a 2/3 mile long, winding, snake that you enter through the mouth and exit through the pooper, loving snakes as the chair of such a group would, I’d still say no. Step aside from your love of the thing and look at it from the perspective of the average 1992 American who looked down on geek & sci-fi and couldn’t give a frakk less about spaceships. Now today we live in the era of everyone is a little geeky, but 20 short years ago, that simply wasn’t true.

    • Roberto

      If you really want to make something amazing you have to be brave and take risks; there’s no benefit for the cowards. You can fail, but you can’t win if you never try. This guy was clearly a mediocre: he based his decision on his personal assumptions and not in real data, surveys, opinion from fans, reports from subordinates, etc. Anyone who’s tried to do something truly creative during his life has confronted such narrow-minded suits at some point, and this project was based on something iconic since the 1960’s, so given the fanbase and care put on the design I’d guess that chances of failure were low.

  11. Wade

    That’s depressing. This would have been a great project and truth be told, the freemont experience is …meh.

    Now Stanley will be known as the guy that defeated the Enterprise Project.

  12. Alfredo deDarc

    Could this project have turned the outflow of money from downtown Vegas? Very likely.
    Would this project have kept interest in Star Trek up when it waned in the early 2000s? Also more likely than not.
    Jaffe never truly realized what he had in Star Trek; the Trek myhtology, if handled correctly and promoted properly with the same amount of juice that the Star Wars Franchise was given could have maintained the impetus virtually forever.
    JJ Abrams’ bastardization of Trek would never have been necessary.

  13. Alfredo deDarc

    It’s just a shame Jaffe wasn’t forced out until 1994, after it was too late for the project. Looking at the list of films he is rewsponsible for doesn’t inspire much confidence in his judgment, nor does it reflect well on his creative abilities…

  14. Scott

    I thought of this same idea years ago every time I drove I-4 from Orlando to Daytona Beach. Along the way is the tiny town of Enterprise, Florida and I always imagined a huge Star Trek attraction being based there. But my idea was slightly different than the Vegas concept: I imagined building half an Enterprise (divided length wise) with the exposed half of the ship being attached to a “dry dock” building. This would allow for some type of rollercoaster or simulator ride to be in the building half. Although I love the basic idea of a life-size Enterprise I’m glad it was not built in Vegas.

  15. TJ

    Should of asked George Lucas if you could build a Star Destroyer. He would have been happy to license anything you put in front of him!

  16. Dave

    You probably could have done something like the ‘space dock’ structure (seen in the first film) as a means to support the ship. I would’ve loved to have seen shuttle buses modeled after the Trek shuttles too.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this did happen in Dubai. That’s the home of epic architecture these days.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  17. Harry

    Wow what a terrible decision to forgo an incredible opportunity, money would have flowed like water with Trek fans coming to visit from all over the world. It would not only have created a huge draw for the city but would have provided plenty of funding to keep itself in pristine condition indefinitely if properly managed. Conventions outfits of all types would have been tripping over each other to get in line and have their events there. Another missed opportunity because of the fear and vanity of some clueless CEO. Sigh, I hate corporations.

    • Catbeller

      I’m afraid that Firefly is not owned by the creator(s) – the rights are owned by Fox. Whedon doesn’t own the concept any more than he owns Buffy or Angel.

  18. Enrico Altmann

    Back then i was a tour leader working for European tour companies throughout the building boom of the 90’s and early 2000’s. And that brought me to Las Vegas countless times, where i usually took my tour groups to the Star Trek Experience, Race For Atlantis Ride, Stratosphere’s Big Shot/High Roller Coaster, TI’s Buccaneer Bay and the Freemont Experience as well. Being a fan of these magnificent creative attractions myself i still remember the awe of my clients every time i showed all these unique ideas to them. Knowing how impressed visitors already were by those other attractions i can only imagine how stunned they would have been seeing a full size Enterprise in the middle of the city. It’s a shame this project was never realized.

  19. Pookie

    Did you read the entire article? This took place TWENTY years ago. Jaffe was president of Paramount for only two years. Good grief.

  20. Jim

    Would love to see something like this happen, … some where … anywhere in the US. As an added attraction, combined it with a space museum and planetarium exhibit.

  21. Adam

    What blows my mind is the amount of support this idea had. Pretty much everyone wanted it. I still can’t quite wrap my head around what this would have looked like. I already love going to Vegas every year, but something like a full scale Enterprise would have pushed it way over the line into the realm of “absolute must visit.” There are few places like that. The sheer scale and scope of something like this has an impact way beyond just a cool tourist attraction. Seeing it in real life would absolutely have inspired kids and made them dream big. It could have had an impact far larger than anyone could have ever guessed at. This was a majorly blown decision by the CEO. Especially when in his mind the big risk was people would remember him as the one who green-lit it. Talk about lame excuses.

  22. Freddy

    We should build one in Earth orbit. Later, we get the warp drives working.

  23. Kurt Foster

    I have a simple solution. Do it now. That guy is no longer in charge at Paramount. Problem solved!

  24. SvZurich

    Damn, this would have been great! I’d make it downtown a lot more often than I do now. Now my idea of going downtown is to pass through to the Strip as the Freemont Street Experience does nothing for me. As a huge Star Trek fan, this would be worth seeing at least once a year.

  25. Gary Goddard

    I appreciate everyone’s comments and thoughts and I was surprised to see such a wide range of thoughts, comments and opinions. Because this blog has created such major interest by so many people, I thought I would take a moment to answer some of the interesting issues raised by others.

    To be clear, I have been doing this for a LONG time. Meaning, creating attractions that push the envelope and hearing “it can’t be done” by so many others on a relatively consistent basis. Your readers should understand, if it were up to the suits- and in some cases even fellow designers – there would have been no Terminator 2/3D, certainly no Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man 3D ride, no Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace — its a long list.

    Doing the seemingly impossible has been something I have made a career of. I found some of the comments interesting, and some I felt were just the glib one liners — taking a shot at something just to be witty — but I’m taking the time to provide some additional information and comments here for those who care. I think the main thing is – some people seemed to think this was a sudden concept and that we did not THINK about the reality o buildling it and operating it, or that we don’t consider the economics on a project like this, or worse, that we don’t understand the nature of one of a kind attractions designed to appeal to large market. In fact, we think about ALL o these things. So, on some of the main points–made by well-intentioned readers here I know — here are some additional facts, background and comments to consider:

    1. For those concerned with the Economics:

    The project WAS economically viable because of a very unique situation. The downtown casino owners were going to finance the attraction and whether it made money or not was not their primary concern – they would make their money back in their hotels and casinos. And in fact, they NEEDED SOMETHING (and FAST) to keep the downtown viable. (It was they – after the ENTERPRISE project was vetoed by Jaffe) who then went on to spend about $65,000,000 on the “The Fremont Experience” and there was NO return on that possible – its a big digital projection screen that covers the street and shows some videos with blasting music – and its “free”.) So understand, the economics of this attraction were quite unique. The project was vetted by an outside economic consultant as well, who confirmed this would an absolute 100% home run. And by the way – the interesting thing is – if you believe this project would have attracted 4 to 5 million people a year, is that it would have made all of the investment back and more. If you do the math – trust me it works. (And I believe this attraction would have brought more like 8 to 10 million people downtown.)

    2. For those who think this was only for TREK fans:

    This project was much larger than one for Star Trek fans alone. Remember, I am IN this industry, I create attractions — The Forum Shops draws 18,000,000 people a year. The money is made in the shops and stores. But the people come to take their photos in the “night sky” that happens every 2 to 3 hours. The STAR TREK ENTERPRISE was on a scale — take this the right way – with Mount Rushmore, with the Statue of Liberty, with the Effiel Tower. It was to be a magnificent man-made monument on a colossal scale. It would be something that would become magnetic – a “must see” for people who are Trek Fans or not. On a relative scale of the people who visit these attractions, only a percentage go into the Statue of Liberty, or up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. But people FLOCK to see these man made wonders. the STAR TREK ENTERPRISE would have drawn people from all over Vegas — and would still be drawing them today. And remember, that was the first and foremost goal — get traffic (people) off the strip and BACK to the downtown area. I think ENTERPRISE would have done even more than that — I think ENTERPRISE would have been a destination for a high percentage of Las Vegas visitors (meaning that they are already intending to visit the ENTERPRISE even before they get to Vegas. It would be one of the “must see” destinations in Vegas.

    3.For those who compare the “shelf life issue” to Star Trek- The Experience:

    Comparing this to STAR TREK; THE EXPERIENCE is not in the cards. And I did STTE so don’t get me wrong – that was a hell of a great attraction and I am very very proud of it. But it was – ultimately – a very cool attraction inside a casino. (And attractions like that DO need updating when repeat visitation is a major part of the equation.) STTE was a truly great attraction — but it was not a frigging 28 story high, 4 football field-long stand-alone MONUMENT to an international mythology. IMAGINE this thing – day or night, sunrise, sunset, nighttime — whether you are on the ground looking at up it, or on the main deck looking out — its something you really have to SEE to believe. The magnetic power of the Starship Enteprise would be — I beileve – quite strong. Stronger than for Star Trek fans ONLY. This is the point – it was first and foremost a MONUMENT – something on a scale that fires the imagination. The “show” within it was important – but the real draw would have been the ship itself. And I disagree with everyone that thinks it would lose its appeal — the Disneyland Castle(s) don’t lose their appeal — The Empire State Building doesn;t lose its appeal — The ENTERPRISE would be as strong a draw today as it would have been the first five years. Think about this – there are very few projects in the world that would find major international press at ALL of these occasions: Announcement of the project. Revealing the Design Model. Ground Breaking. Previews. Opening Day. And then annual celebrations thereafter for spcial events. Live broadcasts from the site, and so on. The magnitude of this concept is quite different than STTE – though again, I am proud of both but you can’t compare them. They are very different attractions built with very different goals.

    4. For the “architects” who say it could not be done:

    For you “experts” I say “ye of little faith” – and I banish you from any and all future projects of epic imagination. We have done projects around the world – over and over – for which certain “architects” always said “it could not be done.” But then we find an architect or engineer who says “you know – with a few changes, this CAN be done.” (Obviously we prefer the latter architects to the former.) For the record, this project was being engineered by no less than Ken Ball and a team of engineers (ex Disney engineers who were trained to always say “how can we do this” rather than “this is not possible”) And yes, there would be some compromises to the conceptual design, but (a) this is normal in the design process, and (b) the compromises that were being discussed were all viable — and by that I mean being able to solve the engineering issues in ways that would not destroy the ship’s design, lines, and aesthetics. Part of my experience doing projects like these is knowig WHO to go to because of EXACTLY people like the architect who commented on the seeming impossibility. It as not impossible. Challenging yes, but do-able. (I actually mentioned the wind shear factors in my original blog, and that fact that we were coming up with solutions.)

    5. The Financial Viability: The project – because of the unique source of financing mentioned earlier – made possible by land being given for free by the city, and the casino operators providing the capital without requiring a profit – was unique. In fact, in the original brief, they city and casino owners were not looking for a profit. The unique thing was with THIS project, they got a best possible attraction, AND it actually promised to return a profit as well. Something NO ONE thought possible at the time. The cash flow from “the attraction” part of this was to provide, first and foremost, payments to Paramount under the licensing deal, and 2nd cover the operating and marketing costs for the attraction. Anything left over would go to the investors – which were the casino owners. So this would have been a big financial success for the licensee (Paramount) without any financial risk on their part, and it would have been a success for the operators, whomever that turned out to be – AND it would most likely have returned the investment to the developers. (Remember — the project that was done in place of the ENTERPRISE – The FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE — cost about half of what the ENTERPRISE was going to cost and its FREE – so there was never any hope of recouping cost from the attraction itself, yet it was built.)

    6. Lastly, for those that think as new Starships were designed for new movies, that this one would be obsolete – I disagree. We picked this model for very specific reasons. I don’t need to go into that here, because you are all fans – so you KNOW the place that his ship holds in the Star Trek legacy. And, in success, perhaps another park in Europe or Asia would take on the next generation design, or a Romulan Ship, or whatever. But Ground Zero would always have been Vegas.

    Sooooo —

    I hope this helps to let everyone know that the issues raised in many cases are understandable given the fact that my blog was a condensed version of the events. But we did not go boldly forward on any project as blind men. We were being tasked by EVERYONE at the time regarding “who, what, how, when, why” and every one of the issues raised here – and more — had to be answered.

    Do not think that anyone in this group took this project on lightly. It was vetted at a level far beyond what has transpired in this blog. The Mayor and her team, the downtown redevelopment committee, the hotel and casino owners, Paramount Licensing – they all took it seriously and analyzed it from every perspective. And I am telling you – this was the “silver bullet” that met and exceeded every goal.

    The point of all of this is this: BECAUSE we did our homework and had the answers — BECAUSE this project was so ideal for this particular set of goals and resources — BECAUSE of all of this, we found ourselves IN THE ROOM — with all of the principles — with the land, the city, the financing, the licensing agreement agreed to “in principle” — and everyone (except ONE as it turned out) WANTED this to happen. Each for their own reasons. The RARITY of getting all of the parts working together on a project of this magnitude in five months time – is quite staggering. So – when it was shot down by the one person in the room who did not do his homework, who made his decisions based upon fear, and who lacked any kind of understanding of his own property (Star Trek) I consider it tragic. It was a great personal, creative and emotional loss for me – I can tell you that.

    Frankly I am surprised that so many “fans” of Star Trek don’t see what could have been. I just ask that rather than be a naysayer in hindsight — just take a moment, and THINK about the sun rising on THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE on that Plaza, or the Silhouette at night as the sun sets, with the lights going on throughout the ship. Think about it at night, lit up and glowing like a beacon — I am telling you — THIS was a home run. On every level. And it is one of the great disappointment of my life that it did not happen.

    So, I hope this provides a bit of additional insight. We do not approach any projects we do lightly, nor did we approach this one without fully comprehending what it was we are intending to create. On every level.

    Challenges yes. Impossible, a resounding no.

    • eduo

      You know… This would make a great movie 🙂 A Star Trek movie not in the Star Trek Universe but in the Universe that gave Star Trek.

      I see what it could’ve been. I can see the counterarguments and the flawed logic they come from: People don’t go to mount rushmore to admire the scultpture technique or because they’re fans of George Washington et al. People don’t go see the Statue of Liberty because they’re fans of Mr. Eiffel or because they want to be reminded about its place in american history. To go even further, people don’t visit the Giza pyramids or share project mockups for “impossible” dubai hotels for any other reason than them wanting to be *AWED* by human ingenuity and a physical icon completely MADE by people like them.

      In the listings for “man-made world wonders” the background of said wonders is never the reason for being included. Most people stood, mouth agape, seeing the inauguration of the olympic games in China, even though none could get even half of the symbolism and “history” behind the iconography, being just awed by the magnitude and sheer disproportion of it.

      Works like these helps us be reminded at the same time both how insignificant we are and how above that we can rise, and that’s what makes us interested in them. The fact that it’s from Star Trek is secondary as it just adds familiar iconography to a huge undertaking. We’re fascinated by abstract buildings that bear no resemblance to anything we can identify in the same way (but it’s a plus when you can).

    • JasonAW3

      I Hate to stoke the fires of a long dead project, but with more modern construction techniques, including the use of Carbon Fiber, (which would escalate the total cost at least 5 fold) I can see this as a project that would be eminettly doable with the first movie 1701. Doing it with the 1701 E MIGHT be possible, but would present some VERY interetsing engineering issues.

      The Abrams Enterprise? Interesting as the design is, making the secondary hull and pylons work with those huge Nacells? Even hollow or filled with a helium based foam to lighten them, would still create torsional stresses in the wind that would give me nightmares.

      (Of course the same could be said of the 1701-E, but making solid pylons that would be sunk into the ground with at least half again their length underground, should stabilize the structure quite adequately).

      • ese callum

        Enterprise – B is very suitable to construct from an engineering point of view and looks awesome as seen in Generations.

        Crowd sourcing could be used to finance it maybe?

    • Sam

      Terrific concept, and a definite draw for someone like me who only glances in the general direction of Vegas from time to time. The idea of creating a wonder like this truly does fire the imagination. I hope you keep that spirit alive in all that you craft and do.

    • Gary Larson

      Mr. Goddard, (please forward to Mr. Goddard if this reply does not go directly to him)

      I began scolling through the comments after reading this article and was quite surprised how some reacted to the view that this project was actually financially feasible and worthy of the attention your proposed Starship Enterprise/Star Trek idea had received by those in Las Vegas in 1992 or so. I understand, unlike many others.

      I am like-minded in your view that ideas like this are actually TIMELESS and it would surely have been viable today, even though created in 1992. It is a very long story but I was actually the ‘original’ designer of what later became the Luxor Hotel complex way back in 1987, but the venture capital group I worked with (after spending a full day presenting my LUXOR plans in addition to presenting them a rendering of the Luxor project) then actually decided to leave me out and ended up instead working with the original group responsible for the Las Vegas Luxor Hotel. They also worked hand in hand with a former ambassador to the U. S. from Egypt in bringing their ‘separate’ interpretation of my ‘Copyrighted’ second rendering of the project to Las Vegas in 1989, which was then completed in October of 1993. The ambassador assisted in provided the necessary artists (those responsible for the hieroglyphics) and then also worked with the public relations firm/venture capital group on the King Tut Replica Museum.

      My company’s copyrighted second Luxor rendering (with architectural work done by the renowned architect of the original Miami Beach FONTAINEBLEAU- Morris Lapidus) was only slightly different than how my company’s prospectus and plans had originally had it designed(in my first uncopyrighted) rendering for the Sinai area of Egypt in the mid to late 80’s. I had
      planned on presenting the project to Disney to be one of their proposed resort projects.

      Enough said, but I only wanted to make you aware that this original Luxor was to be built at a projected cost of 1.2 billion dollars, so the casino heads and their architect slightly rearranged my Luxor project into the new Luxor hotel complex.
      I am writing not to make you aware of this fact (only wanting you to know what transpired years ago) so that you will understand that a most recently designed 4 billion dollar project I designed (and own all rights to) would trump many of the current Las Vegas Mega Resorts. I say this will the utmost confidence and am writing only to personally ask if you and your associates would be interested in this latest ‘THEMED’ resort project I have designed. I would be willing to join with you and a venture capital group you might still be doing business with to see this extremely ‘unique’ design find its way to Las Vegas or Southern property.
      The project as designed will include 2 twin 30 story hotels, and 2 twin 24 story condos, 8 acre adult water park, international destination spa/hotel and designer mall. If interested I can be reached at 641-420-3130 or at to further discuss any amicable arrangement.

      I assure you that you have not and will not see anything as architecturally splendid and intriquing before. (Even as unique as your Star Trek themed resort).
      Please reply or contact me by mail, email or phone if you would like to enter preliminary dialogue and please keep this confidential.

      Gary Larson
      Creative Designs

  26. Antoniemey

    I would have loved to have seen this. I saw the Experience once, but hadn’t found the money to go back for the update before it closed. This would have been on another scale entirely and I can say unequivocally that I believe it WOULD have drawn a crowd of all types of people.

    It saddens me that the small vision of one man (unfortunately, something shared in some of his successors down the line) scuttled such a wonderful project.

  27. Mike Cane

    Wow. I had no idea something like that would even be possible. Now I feel like I’ve been robbed by the tiny thinking of one man who could not be convinced otherwise.

    Is there any reason it still couldn’t be done as part of either an ST or general SF theme park? Though I suppose there are few good locations left in America for something of such scale.

    Thanks for revealing all this.

  28. EJD1984

    Gary, this was beyond a genius idea!! I’d love to see some of the preliminary engineering drawings for this project – aerospace mechanical designer myself (nasa). I’ve got some ideas in my head as to how the structure would have been supported, mainly the saucer section.

    Once you would build the stylized dockyard structure frame – For the saucer, the best spot would have been the gangway doors in the saucer rim ( ) and that’s where the major horizontal support I-beams would have been located all the way thru. Specialized I-beams can be manufactured that large, up to 10-12ft in height. The engines wouldn’t be all that difficult to support, since I believe they’d be mainly hallow. The project seems to me would be moving more towards bridge engineering, with all of the cantilevered mass hat has to be supported.

    Could this project ever be revived? Paramount is working on a new theme park in Spain, with a Star Trek section. If I were in your position, with all of the project history, maybe start a conservation with the studio again to revisit the viability.

  29. Phillip

    Imagine what it would have done for Star Trek as well. After First Contact, the movies progressively got worse and looked cheaper and cheaper. Paramount might have put more money and better writers into Star Trek if they were more “successful”. I lament I never got to see The Star Trek Experience, and this would have been a dream. I probably would have married my fiancee in that ship!

  30. SloDeAtlantia

    Mr. Goddard, Las Vegas is very much in need of a project like this now. I totally agree it would have become one of the wonders of the world. So what’s stopping you now from trying again? You don’t sound like a person who gives up with the first “no”.

  31. Jason

    I was just hanging out at Port Canaveral last night imagining this exact thing. Can you picture this ship permanently docked near all the other amazing cruise ships? Except this one would be a virtual cruise ship, leaving for days at a time. Imagine being immersed in a completely virtual environment, cabin windows showing the galaxy as you cruise around, a 10-forward with 3d windows, etc…. And imagine seeing the warm, glowing blue light of Enterprise’s engines from a couple of miles away against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. Port Canaveral is a natural destination for something this colossal, and magnificent. We have the tourist capability and offerings 2nd to Las Vegas and no where else in the world.

    • JasonAW3

      Or better yet, build it near the Kenedy Space Center. Within eye site of it. Anytime we get some hack wanting to shutdown the space program, simply line him or her up with the Starship Enterprise in the background and take the photos and the video.

      Manned spaceflight would gain more money from each time they try to take away from the budget just from that iconic siloette lurking behind these people, and the shots from craft lifting off into the sky, with the NCC-1701 in full view below as the rocket launches into the sky. Truely iconic and a symbol to strive for.

  32. Garrett Wang


    I played the role of Ensign Kim on Star Trek Voyager for seven years and long before I chose acting as a profession, I was and still am a fan of all science fiction. Thank you for posting your original post regarding the failed Enterprise project. As incredulous as Jaffe’s refusal to sign off on your project may be, it does not shock me. It absolutely infuriates me, but it doesn’t shock me. Hollywood has historically been run by non creative “businessmen” who live in fear. My disgust with Hollywood politics actually prompted me to quit the business and move from Los Angeles to, of all places, Las Vegas.
    I always wondered who was behind the creation of the Star Trek Experience. You must have been there on opening night, as I, along with several other Star Trek actors, came to celebrate the grand opening. Before moving to Vegas, I visited often, and during each visit, I always brought friends to experience the Experience. I think I may hold the record for most visits by an out of town guest, lol. I want to personally thank you for building such a wonderful attraction for which I and many others have many fond memories of.
    I read through all fifty three responses to your original post and must say that the overall tone was extremely supportive and positive. Your line, “Frankly I am surprised that so many “fans” of Star Trek don’t see what could have been.” and the overall tone of your second post seemed almost unnecessarily defensive. You and I are alike, in that, we are able to visit the past and its respective emotions as if it happened yesterday. Just know that you had an absolutely incredible idea that was one step away from becoming a reality. I think of all people, it is Trek fans that are most likely to envision your idea of what could have been. Or should I say, your idea of what could be. With the right circumstances, it can still be built…


    • Daniel B


      love Voyager and it makes me smile that a few of the actors are such big trek fans 🙂 Harry Kim is still one of my favourites and it’s great to see that you have so much passion for the franchise!
      When I was eleven (in 1999), I happened to be at the paramount lot with my twin brother and to this day both of us regret that we didn’t just jump of this stupid carts they carry tourists around with and have a look at the Voyager sets. To see them in real life would have been amazing. We would have surely caused a lot of fuzz, but after all we were just kids. 😉

  33. Dan Rogers


    As a fan, much like the rest of us here, I have many fond memories of Star Trek The Experience. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit it many times, and each time, it was like the first. I could go a thousand times and have it still feel like a brand new experience. I’ve never wanted anything more than to have a monument to our modern mythology that many can share. A living, breathing Star Trek world is a dream that I personally have had for as long as I can remember. Now reading this, seeing just how close it came to be, makes me so very sad.

    I think I speak for many fans when I say, don’t give up. Star Trek may not be in a great place right now, but what it stands for transcends any length of time or mans opinion. To echo what Garrett was saying, it can still happen.

  34. Sara

    I got married at Star Trek: The Experience and it was amazing. I can’t even imagine if it had been in a life-sized Enterprise.

  35. EJD1984

    The 50th anniversary for the original TV series is coming up in 2016. An announcement on Sept 8, 2016 that this project is back on (somewhere in the world), would be phenomenal!!!

  36. Ray

    This would have been FANTASTIC !
    It would have had so many possibilities ! What a LOSS.

  37. Daniel

    Gary, thank you so much for sharing this amazing project with us! I have always dreaming of a life-scale Star Trek ship built in Las Vegas, but not in my wildest imagination I would have thought that such a project actually existed and was even that close to becoming a reality!

    It would be a mind-blowing experience to board the ship, stay in a crew quarter, use the turbo lifts, eat in the casino (or having your food delivered by “replicator”), visit one of a few holodecks, each one with a different “program” running, seeing the bridge, engineering…

    Really sad that the CEO was so narrow-minded back then and killed this fantastic project. Such a shame. However, with today’s technology, the experience and the whole ship could be recreated even better, so maybe it would be worth it to consider a fresh start. Star Trek is becoming more and more popular again, why not ride that wave?


  38. Rob Gustaveson

    Gary Goddard and two other cool dudes (possibly Jon Stewart) use to come into my small but mighty comic store NINTH NEBULA (1986-1996) in the San Fernando Valley where I grew up. And I went to his office to deliver comic book related material (cards I think). Taught him the only card trick I know (I don’t know how it works but it does). Had no idea that a Vegas Theme Park type thing was possibly in the works. Wish it would have happened.
    I think William Shatner may have visited my store once as well during that time period. I didn’t know who he was but complimented Shatner and how much I loved “everything Star Trek.”
    Gary Goddard was always super nice, professional and compassionate to me and I am grateful to have met him a few times.
    Forty five (plus) years later I am still selling comics, fantasy and SF related material. (As graphic-illusion on Ebay).
    Make a Pulp Fiction type film with a Star Trek area where cool Actors and Actresses mingle in small spacecrafts…oh well it was a thought…

  39. Jayshree

    This would have been so cool! I’ve only been to Las Vegas twice – the first time, the year STTE opened… the 2nd time, the year STTE closed. That was my primary reason to go each time. Wish I could have gone more often. Definitely would have gone to see The Enterprise!

  40. JasonAW3

    Let’s look at this from a different perspective.

    What would be required to do the self same project today? If kept in Vegas, where could it be built? How much would it cost? Are we talking fully outfitting the interior, (with the potentile of using it as a hotel as well as a monument) or are we talking about only outfitting select sections, giving the illusion of a complete craft? How much would be museum and how much as simulation or ”ride” attraction?

    I have little doubt that building the ‘shell’ of the ship could be accomplished via a kickstarter program, but just how complete an comprehensive would such a monument be?

    If people want this enough, money could be found, but let’s examine this as if we were ready to break ground in six months. What would need to be done?


  41. Philipp

    I was at the Star Trek Experience and it was the best attraction I have ever seen. Is there ANY possible way that this attraction could actually happen now? Its never too late!

  42. J.D.

    Oh. My. God. If any developer/CEO has a brain, they would get started on this immediately. You have absolutely no idea of the impact this thing would have. I would make an annual pilgrimage…to let my geek out, but more importantly, to let my children dream of the possibilities….

  43. Esecallum

    I think building the Enterprise – B would be the best as due to the thicker neck of the primary hull the construction would not be compromised and would require additional support to hold it up.Same goes for the nacelles.

    Anyone who has seen it in the Film Star Trek Generations or on youtube videos will agree it has grace,majesty and beauty.Properly lit it would be amazing to behold and a greater tourist attraction than the pyramids and people could stay in it as a hotel.

    I urge everyone to go out and get some millionaire/billionaire interested in this.Perhaps a number of billionaires could be persuaded and they would become famous as well for constructing it.

    Remember many billionaires crave being famous and this would be the perfect opportunity for them.

  44. Dave Miller

    I think the time is right to build this. But go all out: Let be a complete, self-contained hotel, casino resort. As such, it would need private financing. Things have changed in 20 years. Perhaps Paramount itself would be interested in financing this today.

    The orignal concept was developed because the Strip was taking business away from downtown, and they were looking for a way to reverse that trend. Nowadays, it is the entire Las Vegas area that needs to find a way to reverse the trend of business moving to the new casinos popping up across the country. Certainly, the Enterprise would be an incredible draw. Even non-fans would remark, “I gotta see this friggin’ thing…”

    Something of this magnitude needs space. The downtown lot originally set aside for this is probably no longer available, but there are several empty lots on the strip.

    I can see it now: Instead of a hotel’s typical range of rooms, with the best being the “Presidential Suite”, there would be varying levels of “crew’s quarters”, “officer’s quarters”, and “The Captain’s Quarters”.

    As a “decommissioned” starship, there’s no need for a shuttle deck, so leave the hangar deck doors open, and turn that area into an outdoor pool. There would still be an indoor pool, right where the original Enterprise blueprints, created in the 1970’s, says there should be one. (I think I still have my copy…)

  45. Galen

    I would love to see this happen and with the movie version of NCC-1701 (or 1701A). I think this version is the most iconic. Even people who don’t necessarily watch Star Trek would recognize it vs. the other versions that have been presented since. As for the interior, I think it would be great if it combined as a hotel, monument and amusement park. As to location, I actually think putting it into a quarry would be great. The walls of the quarry could be surrounded by other hotel rooms, giving the occupants an excellent view of the ship. My idea comes from this .
    I never knew of this before this week. I just stumbled upon the site (was looking for a cover pic for facebook). I went to the Star Trek Experience once for my bachelor party. Most of my friends were not into Star Trek so they weren’t interested. But it was very memorable to me and I was sad to hear it no longer exists. At any rate, that’s my two cents.

  46. Fogyreef

    This reminds me of my Downtown Death Star concept, but that would have been a hotel, and not as epic, and certainly not lifesized. Maybe someone should build the Enterprise in Iowa and boost the local economy, starting a culture out there, where it all began.

  47. Martin Vaccaro

    I can only imagine the sight of that full scale enterprise.And at that scale, you could certainly have an incredible amount of shop’s, attractions inside. Maybe it could still happen? But let me add one idea of mine.Something that would be the ultimate attraction inside a full scale enterprise.Go to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and get the 11 foot filming enterprise in there on exhibit also! Talk about a double whammy! What do you think of that idea Garrett? (You would want a apartment in there! LOL) If some one can photo shop some image’s of what it might look like, that would be cool.Just my two strips of latinum. . . .

  48. Gord

    I can’t really say too much, but there is currently a new attempt in the works to build a full scale starship. Those involved do have a workable design and it will make the one that Vegas missed look like a toy. So keep your fingers crossed, as a proposal is to be presented to a North American city in the spring/summer of 2013.


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