A popular attraction has opened its doors for the 2017 summer season, and our friends at Star Trek Original Series Set Tour are looking to outdo themselves with their feature Trekonderoga event, happening August 25-27, including a full roster of exciting big name stars making guest appearances.
If you can’t make the big doings, fear not intrepid Trekkies, you can still stop by to tour the sets when you’re in town. Doors are open from May through July, Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Star Trek Original Series Set Tour and Trekonderoga are the labors of love that James Cawley has created in Ticonderoga, NY. It all started when James acquired the actual blueprints for the sets of the original Star Trek series. What followed was a meticulous recreation of the original sets and eventually a series of wildly successful fanfiction productions that furthered the adventures of the Starship Enterprise and her crew.
Today, the enterprise (pun intended) draws thousands of earthlings a year to their tours and special events, having shifted the emphasis from filming the fictional exploits of our beloved Star Trek characters to showing visitors what studio television production was like when the original CBS show was made.
Don’t even try to enter through this door unless your SAG card is current.
The tour is a thrill for fans of the original series and students of television history alike. When I was there on opening day, the tours were already flowing steadily through the facility. Visitors are greeted at the door by some familiar faces, and right off the bat (Gorn’s bat) you know you are in for a fun time.
Here’s one greeter who might be a little too friendly. Don’t get too close unless you’ve been cutting the salt out of your diet.
Inside, visitors are treated to displays featuring props from the original Star Trek television show, along with fun cultural ephemera.
Who didn’t dream at one time or another about shooting your phaser at the bad guy, or running that tricorder over a red-shirt just to make sure he was dead?
CBS has fully sanctioned Star Trek Original Series Set Tour and some of their offerings truly make this feel like a television production museum. Ashley Brand, the tour guide who gave me the low down in between escorting groups of fans through the set, proudly shows off the main attraction of the lobby. This is one of the actual Mitchell 35mm studio cameras used to shoot episodes of Star Trek and Mission Impossible, along with the accompanying scene clapper and klieg light! The authenticity of the sets and the presence of this camera makes one feel as if they had stepped back in time to an actual television studio in the 1960s.
Ashley took me in to see the sets through this door. From this side it is all rough carpentry, but from the other side the camera would have recorded me coming through the gleaming futuristic doors of the enterprise that opened smoothly and magically. I was disappointed that Ashleigh didn’t make the sound effect, but I felt too silly to ask her to try. But hey, those sound effects were added in after anyway - I wonder if Shatner ever wished the stagehand pulling the door string would make the sound effect for him?
All of the locations that made up the immense interior of the starship that you saw on your television were, in fact, a confusing maze of sets squeezed into a single studio. As I mentioned, their whole layout matches the CBS original, being built from the same blueprints, resulting in an exact copy of the “Desilu” stage 9. Color spotlights flood the walls with an almost psychedelic glow. James explains this saturation of color was planned to show off to best advantage the color TV sets that were taking over the market in the 1960s.
Here, Ashley shows me the inner workings of the “He’s Dead, Jim” room.
The Dilithium Crystals look good, I think we can probably go a couple of more light years before we have to tank up again.
Every detail of the original is reproduced with stunning accuracy. In fact, the transporter is so authentic that Ashley beamed me down to a class M planet that looks exactly like earth, weird.
Of course the bridge is the place where all the action took place. This is probably where it hits most people just how identical these sets are to the original television studio sets. It is a little eerie to be on the bridge when nobody’s around.
The success of the set tours and Trekonderoga is growing every year. Many of their events, such as the Ultimate Insider Weekend where attendees get to meet with the original production engineers of the Star Trek franchise, sell out far in advance. I’m giving you fair warning: if you want to attend this year’s Trekonderoga smash wingding, then get your tickets now while you still can! There are also rumors of special super-secret private events like a murder mystery party celebrating the 50th anniversary of filming the episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” I suggest you call them up to find out if and when the next one will be- but, shhhh, you didn’t hear it from me…
Trekonderoga 2017 is August 25-27, special guests include Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Lee Meriwether, and many more! Set a course for nostalgic futuristic fun. You don’t need a starship to put it into warp drive - just stab it and steer - to Trekonderoga!