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

Star Trek Adventure was the title given to the two Universal Studios produced, largely overlapping, Star Trek-themed live-action performance attractions, at its two Universal Studios Tour theme-park premises, located in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California from 1988 until 1994 and in Orlando, Florida from 1991 until 1996, fully licensed by Paramount Pictures.

Hollywood venue

The US$7 million live-action performance attraction was formally announced to the general public on 8 April 1988 with the release of a press kit presented to the media. The eight-page kit contained an two-page studio introduction, a four-page "United Federation of Planets Directive" written from an in-universe perspective, presenting a format for a contest broadcasters could employ to give away admission tickets for the attraction from 1 July onward, and a two-page contest comic book format for the press media. [1] The Los Angeles venue opened on 9 June 1988 with Gene Roddenberry and the cast (excepting Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner) in attendance.

Opening title for the Hollywood VHS tape

In the performance, ten volunteers from the audience were dressed in Starfleet uniforms, placed on sets and coached to deliver scripted dialogue 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 "dragonhound" (as coined in the end credit roll), 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 eight-minute short film, and shown to the audience in the newly built, 1200 seat Panasonic Theater. The "actors" had the opportunity to purchase a VHS copy of their video after the show for US$29.95 (plus tax). The attraction had the capacity to do ten performances a day, each taking up approximately thirty minutes in total.

Sets that were (partially) recreated in the Panasonic Theater 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 light of day, 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, MCA/Universal Recreation Services, Task Research, McFadden Systems, and Smith Bruni Design. [2]

The Enterprise model in newly shot scenes for the Adventure video

The video featured additional visual effects sequences of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey and the refit-Enterprise which was not covered by stock footage from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 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", as specified in the brochure quoted below), were separately shot at Universal Studios. To this end, the actual production studio models of the two vessels were sent over to Universal for filming. However, the Enterprise model was endowed with a high-gloss paint-scheme, 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 strained production. (American Cinematographer, July 1989, p. 83)

Save for a voice-over by William Shatner, no additional scenes with the Original Series cast needed to be recorded or filmed, all of these being stock footage from the features.


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.


"Captain's log, stardate 4121.7. We are en-route to Akumal 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 Akumal 7 (spelling from press kit, p. 2), 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 latters' 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 saves 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 respective ways.

In plot, this "adventure" is very reminiscent of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Errand of Mercy", with the Preceptors standing in for the Organians.


  • Elsa Briseno† - Stage Crew
  • Thomas Edmonds† - Stage Crew
  • Phil Hettema†† - Producer
  • Tassay Randall† - Stage Crew
  • Jay Stein†† - President, MCA/Universal Recreation Services
  • Cheryl Zygmont† - Stage Crew
† - as identified in end credit roll
†† - as identified in press kit (pp. 1-2)

Orlando venue

Opening title for the Orlando VHS tape

A parallel Star Trek Adventure performance, featuring another (less ambitious) story-line, opened in March 1991 at Universal's Orlando, Florida theme-park location, as one of two "Screen Test Home Video Adventures" (the other one having been "Your Day at Universal Studios"), and differing in this respect that there blue screen techniques were used to insert guest footage into newly filmed scenes with Star Trek actors, whereas the Los Angeles version inter-cut pre-existing stock movie footage with additional guest cast scenes shot earlier on the replica sets into the short film. Partly due to the different way the now ten-minute video was compiled, partly for commercial reasons – since the Hollywood venue was still up and running at that time – , a different plot-line was employed at the Orlando venue.

Contrary to the Hollywood venue, where stock footage from the features was sufficient enough for cutting the filmed sequences with the guest actors into the final short film, the Orlando venue required additional scenes with the Original Series cast to be filmed into which the guest actors performances were to be composited; Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner were filmed for the introductory sequence whereas DeForest Kelley and the secondary cast filmed additional scenes on the recreated refit-Enterprise Hollywood bridge set for the "adventure" itself. Due to the blue screen technique employed, less visitors could participate, and the number was limited to five with limited interactivity as opposed to the Hollywood venue where up to twenty visitors could participate. One participant later recalled, "Back in 1991, my father took my mother and I to Florida's Universal Studios. Being an avid Star Trek fan, I begged to do this attraction. You are in this empty room, with a captain's chair, and that's it. All blue screen." [3] On the other hand, no additional visual effects were required – if only for the fact that the studio models were in use at the time for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – and all starship effects were stock footage from the movie features.

Editing chores were handled by Anitech Services Inc. and Television Engineering Services. (end credit roll) The Orlando venue was closed on 11 November 1996, whereas the Hollywood venue had closed two years earlier. [4] Several examples of the videos shot on both venues are currently available on the internet channel YouTube. The Hollywood video registration variant lacked an introduction, the Orlando version had.

The same, but more professional, blue screen technique was by then used to great effect for the acclaimed 1996 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine homage episode "Trials and Tribble-ations".


"Hello and welcome to Universal Studios' Star Trek Adventure, courtesy of Paramount Pictures. I'm Gene Roddenberry and some of you may know me as the creator of Star Trek. The episode you're about to see is a first. It's the first time guest stars have ever played the roles of the Captain of the Enterprise and the Vulcan science officer. We'll now give you a peek at the rehearsal session that went on between our guest stars and their two directors, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy."

Roddenberry introduces the video as a Star Trek episode 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, Shatner and 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 instructors 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 Miranda-class vessel, 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. Krall, a brash young Klingon in control of the Federation ship, displays excitement at the prospect of engaging Kirk and the Enterprise. The graduates are beamed aboard the commandeered Federation vessel, and delay Krall long enough from attacking Enterprise any further, by bluffing to detonate a "photon detonator" (which later turns out to be a gag gift) for a message to be received from Kirk that a ceasefire has been signed with the Klingon Empire. The Klingons are subsequently taken into custody for handing over to the Empire.

Bluffing with imminent destruction to achieve a standoff with an adversary, was a recurrent staple in Star Trek, for the first time employed in the Original Series episode "The Corbomite Maneuver".


  • Natalie Richards - Art Director


External links