Will Star Trek help launch Movie Park Germany to the next level?

February 16, 2017, 2:51 PM · We are getting our first look at the world's newest Star Trek-themed attraction, which debuts this spring at Movie Park Germany.

Star Trek: Operation Enterprise is a Mack triple-launch coaster featuring a top speed of 56 mph and three inversions, including an Immelmann, a Heartline Roll, and a Zero-G Roll. Let's take a look at some highlights of this 2:24 ride, in a hype video provided today by the park:

Movie Park Germany says that Operation Enterprise will be themed to "The Next Generation" chapter of the Star Trek franchise, which for non-fans was the 1987-1994 television series starring Patrick Stewart that eventually took over the movie series from the original cast, from 1994-2002. The coaster will be part of a "Federation Plaza" area in the park, with Star Trek-themed displays and retail in addition to the ride. If you understand German, here's an interview with Mack Rides describing the development of the attraction. (And even if you don't know German, you can get the gist of it.)

For being one of the more popular and enduring multi-media entertainment franchises, Star Trek's suffered a relatively weak history in theme parks. The most successful themed installation for the franchise was Star Trek: The Experience, which operated for 10 years at the Las Vegas Hilton, closing in 2008. Featuring a motion simulator and a 4D show, this hard-ticket Star Trek mini-park was operated by Paramount Parks, and then Cedar Fair. Paramount Parks also featured Star Trek-themed Vekoma Flying Dutchman coaster at Carowinds, called Borg Assimilator. Cedar Fair renamed the coaster Nighthawk in 2008, when its IP license from Paramount terminated.

Before that, Universal Studios offered Star Trek Adventure, a live show featuring audience volunteers playing supporting roles that would be cut with previously filmed scenes featuring actors from The Original Series into a short film that would play at the end of the performance. (Universal most recently used a similar device in its Disaster! attraction at Universal Studios Florida.) The show ran at Universal Studios Hollywood from 1988 through in 1994, in the theater that now houses Shrek 4D. A limited version of the experience was offered at Universal Studios Florida as part of The Screen Test Home Video Adventure, from 1991 through 1996.

As for Star Trek: Operation Enterprise, if this were an indoor coaster, I'd be craving an opportunity to ride. But as an outdoor coaster, the Star Trek name here seems to me another example of aspirational branding on a theme park ride than the sign of a convincing immersive experience. And Movie Park Germany isn't exactly a major park. It didn't crack the Top 20 parks in Europe in the latest TEA/AECOM industry attendance report last year, putting its annual attendance at fewer than 1.46 million visitors. Formerly known as Warner Bros. Movie World Germany, the park was part of the Premier Parks/Six Flags chain until 2004, when it a private equity firm bought it and dropped the Warner Bros. branding. Parques Reunidos has owned the park since 2010.

But less-attended parks need big attractions to move up, and Star Trek certainly delivers a powerful brand. And Mack Rides makes some pretty sweet coasters, too. So we'll see if Star Trek: Operation Enterprise allows Movie Park Germany to make the leap into the top tier of European theme parks this summer.

Replies (14)

February 16, 2017 at 3:12 PM · It's a shame Las Vegas can't get another Star Trek Experience, which is the home of Star Trek conventions. They removed the attraction due to perceived unpopularity of the attraction and since they believed the Star Trek franchise is dead. A few short years later, the Star Trek reboot starring Chris Pine was released. What a mistake. Star Trek is alive and well and a new Star Trek series is coming. Bring back Star Trek.

Universal Studios should be on the short list and be good counterprogramming to Disney's Star Wars Land. A minor park like Knott's can also benefit from Star Trek especially with new conventions coming to Anaheim.

February 16, 2017 at 3:13 PM · Carowinds really missed an opportunity when they had the borg ride. They built a borg sphere from the first contact movie where the track kind of looped around it, but it was just decorative. They should have made that the gift shop. It could have been awesome.
February 16, 2017 at 3:16 PM · I think a presence in a major theme park can only help the value of the Star Trek franchise. Heck, Universal Orlando helped keep Marvel relevant during its dark days before its recent film renaissance. But relying on the franchise to lift a relatively small park like this to major status is asking a lot. Universal, or maybe even Cedar Fair - now that Matt Ouimet has replaced Dick Kinzel and the memory of the Disaster Transport failure is fading - could help reinforce fans' relationship with the franchise. Heck, even Disney could make a play. If JJ can oversee Star Wars and Star Trek, maybe WDI can, too.
February 16, 2017 at 3:59 PM · What always made a lot of sense to me was a Star Trek takeover of Tomorrowland. It's a hopeful look at the future, even with its conflicts. It fits well with the land's original vision. All those mid-century modern structures would be a great home for Star Fleet Academy. It would be easy to re-theme existing rides, too--Buzz becomes a phaser training ride, Star Tours is a shuttlecraft journey, Space Mountain, well, who perhaps just change the soundtrack. And then think what could be done with all that extra space at Carousel and the theater. On the east coast, all that bling on WDW's TL could be tweaked to very Klingon-like or another alien planet. Oh the possibilities.
February 16, 2017 at 4:08 PM · Looks like this new coaster has about as much to do with Star Trek as the new J.J. Abrams movies.
February 16, 2017 at 4:32 PM ·
I remember Borg Assimilator coaster. I was disappointed by the lack of theming in the queue. Other than ride safety video which had the Borg performed the buckle up producer. There wasn't really much in their presentation then some of the Borg design and lighting effects. I hope the queue and gift shop plaza has a bit more theming for Trek. Tekkies needs a new mecca other then the conventions. I know there was the rumors about Trek and Universal but seems like Beyond box office didn't help keep that ip from coming yet. I hope that once the new Star Trek Discovery TV series launch in a big way it can finally push Trek band to come to whichever *cough Uni* theme park in the future. Interesting point that Star Trek is a divided license now. The movies are Paramount run, while the TV shows are CBS run. Having this coaster theme too Next Generation seems like CBS is in the running to have their Trek in the theme parks, while those JJ Trek movies have stalled. Gotta feeling Discovery is the key to Trek future in the theme parks.

February 16, 2017 at 5:17 PM · This is clearly a TINO (Theming In Name Only) and it's sad. This park big and light on theming. With a 30 euro entrance ticket price you can't expect anything more.
I'd love to see a highly themed Star Trek land with rides but it's not going to be in Moviepark Germany.
February 16, 2017 at 9:00 PM · Universal should get the theme park rights to Star Trek for their 3rd gate (Site B) since the paramount park in the U.K. doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

Have a ride like the Millennium Falcon where you get to be part of the crew on the bridge of the Enterprise. The line ups for such a ride would be huge but so would the ride building for such an attraction.

February 16, 2017 at 9:14 PM · I'm with everyone else on this one. I hate it when someone builds a rollercoaster that claims to be based on a popular franchise yet has absolutely nothing to do with that franchise; it's just a plain iron tide! Sure, this ride looks fine, but what I saw absolutely nothing in that video that even remotely resembled Star Trek. I mean, you'd think they'd at least have the decency to make the ride vehicle look like the Enterprise, especially since the name of the ride is "Operation Enterprise," but it doesn't! I get it that the park's that do this don't have the money to pull off any Disney or Universal level of theming, and I know that they're just using these huge names, to draw bigger crowds, but the least they could put some effort into it. And quite frankly, I think this strategy could very well backfire. Imagine that you're a Trekkie living in Germany, and you find out that your local theme park is building a new Star Trek ride, only to find out that it barely has anything to do with Star Trek. I'd imagine that you'd feel pretty disappointed, and maybe even insulted. Even Six Flags, the theme park chain most notorious for these types of rides, realized this and, after decades of building rides based on D.C. superheroes, has started building DC-themed rides that are actually DC-themed! While their first attempt, Dark Knight Coaster, didn't work out for them, their second one, Justice League: Battle for Metropolis did. So hopefully this means that other similar parks will follow suit.
February 16, 2017 at 11:26 PM · In 1992, Six Flags Great America premiered Batman The Ride, which has since been cloned at many Six Flags parks. On that attraction, riders begin in a highly themed queue area that eventually leads to a station resembling the Batcave. Once the ride begins, theming is downplayed as the thrill of the coaster is enough to entertain riders.

While there are a few exceptions, almost every major roller coaster follows this trend, even at the world's top destination parks. If a roller coaster is a serious thrill ride, there is little benefit from setting it in a highly immersive environment as riders will be distracted by the sensations experienced during the ride. Even at Disney parks, the most intense roller coasters often feature quick flybys past cardboard cutouts as theming during high speed sections, with little in between to create a continuous immersive environment.

Is there room out there for a fully immersive Star Trek attraction? Absolutely, but it needs to go to a park that doesn't currently have something like Marvel, Harry Potter, Star Wars, or DC Comics in order to avoid being overshadowed. Star Trek: Operation Enterprise, however, is not this attraction, and it is wholly unfair to judge as such. Think of this ride more along the standard of Dragon Challenge, and it is a perfectly good coaster that is among the finer themed offerings at a mid-size regional park.

February 17, 2017 at 1:32 AM · Movie Park Germany is a nice regional theme park. It has a good line up of attractions and the latest additions all have very good theming. It's not worth the travel alone, but it's just a relatively short train ride away from Phantasialand (which is in the top three theme park in Europe), so worth the visit if you are already in the area.
February 17, 2017 at 11:06 AM · I'm growing concerned about Discovery. When it was announced, Discovery was supposed to be the first cornerstone show of the CBS All Access digital network. However, the production has been delayed twice already, and they've changed show runners before the first episode has even aired. CBS All-Access has since launched without Discovery (to little fanfare), and depending upon how much money they have to operate, it may be defunct by the time Discovery is ready to air. Executives keep stating that they don't want to deliver an inferior Trek product, but considering all of the rumors swirling about the initial concept, Bryan Fuller's strange exit, and all of the recasting, Trek fans have to be really worried.

Bad Robot's (JJ Abrams' production company) Star Trek movies have certainly exceeded expectations, but it's been reported that many of the executives given the controls of the franchise after Rodenbury's death have not been thrilled with the direction the movies have gone (marginalized social commentary and hard core "sci-fi" themes in favor of space battles and humor). It's unknown if there will be another Pine-led Trek movie even though Paramount has technically given the green light and begun casting.

The Star Trek IP is in a very similar position to the LOTR/Hobbit IP with no clear direction forward and lots of people wanting to make money off dead people's ideas all with different agendas.

We were recently in Las Vegas, and lamented the loss of Star Trek: The Experience at the Hilton. It's demise was more a result of being a red-headed stepchild in the Cedar Fair chain than not being profitable (easily had to make more money than the Marvel Experience or CSI Experience are making these days in more expensive venues). Honestly, I'm really surprised no one has tried to license Star Trek IP in the US since, which leads me to believe that Paramount is not interested, or those that have the final say (Rick Berman) have their own vision for how Star Trek is to be presented, and are not willing to let anyone else have it at virtually any price.

February 17, 2017 at 8:15 PM · The Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas was awesome, from the start when you're waiting at a door to board a 'ride', and you're suddenly transported to the Enterprise, the effect was very effective! Then you're escorted to the bridge, taken onto a lift, the ship is attacked and you board a shuttle simulator. Awesome. I agree Star Trek would fit perfectly in Tomorrowland, just never thought about it because of Star Wars.

The original series is still the best. They improved the special effects and added color to the backgrounds, but I always thought they should completely redo all the sets using CGI. Give the sets a majestic feel, rather than the cheap 60s minimalist look. But I know this will probably never happen, but I think this would be the best way to make the original series relevant in today's super special effects world.

February 20, 2017 at 7:12 AM · @Disfan - Paramount/CBS Home Video did redo and remaster the original Trek series a few years back for a Blu-Ray release. It actually annoyed a lot of hard core fans, because part of the charm of the original series was to see what the production team was able to do on an extremely limited budget (there was a version of the Blu-Ray release that you could purchase that allowed you to watch either the original broadcast version OR the remastered version, but I'm not sure if that is still available to consumers). However, the remastered TOS (The Original Series for the non-Trekers out there) is really well done with vastly improved backgrounds, space effects, and sharper/cleaner images and audio. The remastered TOS does still have the 60's camp that epitomized the series, exemplified in much of the makeup and costuming, but the overall look and feel of the series in its remastered form is definitely more vast and expansive. It also fits in better with the rest of the Star Trek series (in fact, TNG - The Next Generation - got an effects remaster shortly after TOS to bring every Trek series on the same plane in terms of effects quality).

IMHO, Enterprise actually does an excellent job recapturing the themes and ideas of TOS even though it was a critical and ratings failure (that silly theme song didn't help much), though Deep Space Nine - DS9 - is still my favorite of all the series (headed for a good chunk of its run by Ronald Moore, who went on to run SyFy's re-imagined Battlestar Galactica). Enterprise does take all of the first season and some of the second season to get going, but it was really hitting its stride at the end of the 3rd season when Paramount pulled the plug after an abbreviated 4th season. Hopefully the delays in Discovery are really a result of the production team trying to get the new series right straight out of the gate so Paramount doesn't have to pull the plug prematurely like what happened to Enterprise.

As far as future theme park applications, I've always gotten the impression that Paramount and those in charge of the Star Trek IP don't want others messing with their universe without significant oversight. When Paramount was in the theme park business, it made it easy for them to keep control on what was going on with the IP, but not that they're out, I think the powers that be would be reluctant to just hand over Trek to a theme park operator. Conversely, a theme park operator would want some level of freedom to apply the IP as they see fit, especially one that would be as expensive as Trek, so anything beyond the skinning of a ride like what is being done in Germany, would take some serious negotiations that probably neither side is interested in at this point. Again, I think the Trek IP is in the same spot as LOTR/Hobbit with IP owners and theme park operators far apart in price and application of the IP for an immersive setting.

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