It hasn’t been a week since my birthday surprise, and at times I feel as if it were just yesterday or a year ago that we took the long drive to Ticonderoga, New York to visit the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour.
It was all the more wonderful to celebrate my 50th birthday among the stars that had been in our world for those same fifty years.
I was completely speechless and wide-eyed. I had no idea that this place existed. Upon entering and checking in (we’d bought our tickets online), we were led into a large warehouse space. The modern displays and wooden walls stamped with Desilu Studios 9 were wonderfully deceiving.
The tour guide, whose name escapes me, talked about the studio sets and showed us a ship’s door, set up with ropes and pulleys, the same way the crew of the television series opened the doors for the crew of the Enterprise while filming. While we have automatic doors that open with the press of a foot or the visual sensor like at the grocery store, these were nonexistent in 1966 when Star Trek was born.
It took two people to pull on the ropes and open the doors, and at that moment we were on the precipice of two worlds – the modern, small town in upstate New York, and the future/past of a 1966 television studio and futuristic starship.It is literally like walking onto the Enterprise. It took my breath away, and I’m sure that I had a grin on my face that never left it the entire time. Just standing on the tile floor looking into the carpeted ship’s corridor was a surreal experience.
We began in the transporter room, and we each took our turns beaming in and out.As we exited the transporter room, we follow the guide to the T at the end of the short hallway. As we step from one hall to the next, we are on the Enterprise. It is the one spot where all you see is corridors and doorways. I will say it a hundred more times, but it really is breathtaking.
Each room is a replica of how it appeared on television. There were set blueprints. There are photos and screenshots from the series to compare to the exacting design. It was just like being there.
It is primarily observing, some touching, but no sitting or leaning, and our tour guide was very knowledgable, both in the behind the scenes creating of the television series but also in trivia, some of which we hadn’t heard. It was nice to be with such a fan so we could actually talk about abour own experiences in the Star Trek universe.
There are some original props: one of the tribbles, the gold box in Captain Kirk’s quarters, and a chair from the shuttle. The Vulcan harp isn’t original to the show, but it is handmade, can be played (if you know how to play a Vulcan harp), and signed by Nichelle Nichols. (Leonard Nimoy had died before it was completed.)
The briefing room is set up like the rec room. On the original set, the one set was rearranged for different needs. We could not sit on the med beds or the other furniture except for what the tour guide allowed us to sit on – the briefing room chairs and of course, the Captain’s chair. Having sat on one of the original Captain’s chairs at the Air and Space Museum of The Smithsonian, I can tell you that this reproduction is much sturdier than the real thing. And very comfortable. It’s good to be the Captain.
The tour is advertised at forty minutes, but I’m certain we were there a lot longer than that. We were the only ones visiting at the time, so I don’t think it was a problem. My daughter did go a little nutty with pictures which may have bothered our tour guide, but she gave no indication.
James Cawley, the creator of this wonderful place, came out, and we were able to meet him and take a couple of pictures. He wished me a happy birthday.
It was a fantastic experience.The prices are reasonable and can be found on their website. They also offer an assortment of discounts: children, seniors, police, fire, EMT, paramedic, RN, LPN, military.
In addition to the Star Trek Original Series Tour, Ticonderoga is the home to Fort Ticonderoga, known for its use in the French & Indian War and the Revolutionary War. There is also a ferry that travels across to Vermont. These were both closed when we visited at the end of November, but all will reopen in the spring.
Five plus stars! Ten out of 10 would recommend!