One of the most recognizable space vehicles of all time is the U.S.S. Enterprise of Star Trek. For years, fans all over the world have wanted to explore the inside of this Constitution class starship; and for a brief time, it almost became a reality. A forward-thinking entertainment design firm was planning to build a full-size Enterprise in the middle of Las Vegas! How come this idea was left in spacedock?
In 1992, Las Vegas was in need of something big. Something to bring a whole new group of people that otherwise would never come. Gary Goddard, the head of a self-titled entertainment firm, turned to Star Trek. Realizing that Trekkers were one of the largest fanbases in all the world, Goddard planned to do the unbelievable - build a life-size scale version of the U.S.S. Enterprise. However, this would be no mere monument. Goddard says,
"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 Starfleet 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."
The ship would be seen from the air as tourists came by plane, making it an instant attraction to see for Trekkers and non-Trekkers alike. The costs would've been astronomical, with estimates being placed at $150,000,000. Even larger would be the scale of the Enterprise as seen on the chart below.
With plans set, Goddard and his team went to Paramount Licensing to obtain the rights to build the attraction and were met with enthusiasm. The Licensing group said Paramount would have no problem approving the idea if the local Las Vegas Redevelopment Committee was onboard. The Committee and the Mayor of Las Vegas agreed to the project and Goddard was set to meet with the head of Paramount, Stanley Jaffe. Goddard went through his entire presentation. Jaffe then said,
"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.... 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 don’t want to be the guy that approved this and then it’s a flop and sitting out there in Vegas forever."
Goddard and his team were left stunned. The Licensing Group and the Vegas people were devestated. The Enterprise would never be constructed. Goddard would eventually become part of a Vegas Trek project, "The Star Trek Experience" which ran for 10 years, but is now discontinued. How the Head of Paramount could not have thought a FULL-SCALE replica of the U.S.S. Enterprise would be profitable is beyond me. Maybe someday with the continued success of the new Trek films, this idea could be reopened. Would you like to see a real life-size U.S.S. Enterprise?