Review: The Star Trek Starfleet Academy Experience (Ottawa, Ontario)
Yeah, I’m a geek. And a total Trekkie. I loved The Force Awakens, but Trek is still my fave. Will this world premiere interactive exhibit live long and prosper, or is there about to be a transporter malfunction?
No disclaimer needed here — we paid our own way in.
During the first leg of our ‘Yo Canada‘ trip, we stopped by the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, which holds the worldwide premiere of the interactive Star Trek experience (AKA Star Trek: Starfleet Academy Experience). It’s based on the prime Star Trek ‘verse (so TOS/TNG/DS9/Voyager/Enterprise fans will have everything to look forward to), and there are no mentions of the reboot movies or the upcoming CBS series at all.
Pay to get in, then register an RFID-powered watch with your name and e-mail address. Fake this for now if you want, as you’ll have a chance to change this later on if you desire. It’s only used for sending on the results of the interactive stuff you’ll learn about.
Once past the Enterprise from the original series, you’ll encounter this bilingual officer welcoming you to the exhibit and encouraging you to do your best on the quizzes ahead.
Plenty of history is around for the casual show-watcher to catch up and hard-core Trekkie to show off. It’s all canon, and there’s lots of detail to go around.
Your first test: use the 21st century version of the tricorder to scan the Klingon, then arrive at the correct diagnosis.
One of the trickier stations! Listen to the Klingon officer say a few phrases of Klingon, then repeat them as best you can. Try not to laugh or snicker too loudly.
Some props from past Star Trek films are on display, offering both a bit of fan service and a chance for Trekkies to intrigue the rest of their party. The quizzes offer a bit of fan service, though it’s set up for casual watchers of the show to learn more without resorting to the 1990’s era Nitpicker’s Guides and other books. If you can recite from memory the year the Federation was founded or what race Phlox is, you’re not going to learn anything new here.
At least one exhibit showed what I perceived to see a glaring oversight of Trek canon. In at least a couple of episodes, Next Generation characters are shown practicing their phaser skills on the holodeck, shooting at colored, moving balls. The offering here is similar, and in-line with the better point-the-weapon-at-the-screen arcade games out there. When something in the show lends itself so easily to an exhibit, however, I’d love to think that could add to the awesomeness of the exhibit.
The captains uniforms over the years are highlighted,
The highlight is easily the full-scale replica of the Enterprise-D bridge, complete with your very own chance to take a version of the Kobayashi Maru test. Allow your non-Trek friends to take it in before telling them all about it (maybe offer them a bet that they won’t beat it?). Look for the Easter Eggs scattered along the conn panels as the only mentions of the actors or producers.
Overall, it’s very well done for a very tall order (a single set of tech and offerings to entertain everyone from child to uber-Trekkie). It does feel like it could have easily appeared as an add-on to a theme park, and the price tag reflects that. It also serve as a reminder that the science fiction world Gene Roddenberry pictured 50 years ago is quickly becoming science fact.
The world premiere of the Star Trek: Starfleet Academy Experience in Ottawa’s Canada Aviation and Space Museum runs for most of 2016, while a similar version of the experience will feature at New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum from July 9-October 31. More info at http://starfleetacademytour.com.
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