Amazingly, no one in Europe’s ever done a Star Trek themed rollercoaster before. Movie Park Germany general manager Thorsten Backhaus (below right) tells Blooloop why he’s thrilled his facility is the first with Star Trek: Operation Enterprise, and how pleased he was to receive the Trekkies’ approval.
During the last few years we’ve built a lot of new attractions at Movie Park Germany. In 2011, we opened the coaster Van Helsings Factory, followed by the kids driving school Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: License to Drive. In 2014, we launched The Lost Temple, an immersive tunnel. All these attractions appeal mainly to families.
Visitor surveys, market and target group analyses showed that our guests wanted a new thrill attraction. As Germany’s biggest film-themed amusement park, to have a recognisable brand was essential to us with a new rollercoaster. We also wanted a coaster that would appeals not only to teenagers and young adults but also families, just as with Van Helsings Factory, our last rollercoaster.
Finding the right IP
We wanted to have an intellectual property (IP) that most people know. We thought about about different movies, TV shows and genres. Star Trek quickly turned out to be the best opportunity. For 50 years, it has appealed to fans. Characters such as Captain Kirk, Spock and Captain Picard are household names. Now the new generation with Star Trek Beyond is in the cinemas. So most generations who visit Movie Park have been in contact with Star Trek somehow.
We were proud and excited to obtain the Star Trek™ licence from CBS Consumer Products. There have been some Star Trek themed experiences in the past like in Las Vegas, but never a rollercoaster named Star Trek. Why? This is a good question, but it makes us even more proud to be the first theme park to have such an experience.
Mack Rides, as one of the largest German manufacturers of rollercoasters and amusement park attractions, stands for reliability, safety, comfort and ultimate ride fun. In 2000 they supplied our Wild Mouse coaster, now called Ghost Chasers. Choosing Mack again for Star Trek: Operation Enterprise reinforced our focus on quality at Movie Park Germany. It seemed like the perfect match.
A fully immersive Star Trek experience
Several companies were involved in creating the immersive Star Trek experience before you get on the ride. On audiovisual we have been supported by IMAscore, who provided the soundtrack performed by the Budapest Film Orchestra, as well as Nightlife Productions. The theming of the Federation Plaza and interior has been done by TAA, who also worked on Van Helsings Factory and Ninja Turtles: License to Drive.
Guests access the coaster from the brand new Federation Plaza via an entirely Star Trek-themed building that covers an area of more than 1,000 square metres. The whole area, including Federation Plaza, pre-show and coaster itself, covers about 8,000 sq m.
Most challenging was to use our existing film museum as the pre-show for Star Trek: Operation Enterprise. This building was constructed before even the Warner times [the park operated as Warner Bros Movie World from 1996 to 2004 and previously Bavaria Filmpark/Traumland]. Therefore it needed to be adopted to local fire regulations as well our operational needs.
The pre-show has so many themed elements including a 3D mapping effect, plus different rooms like the Holodeck or the Transporter Rooms. But for sure the most spectacular part is the detailed reproduction bridge of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D.
Reaching out to the Trekkies
We had contact from some Star Trek fans sites during the creation of Star Trek: Operation Enterprise. They followed our construction blog and we had an open communication concerning pictures. They’ve been really thankful for that. We know that “Trekkies” can be really critical, but until now they’ve been fascinated by what we’ve achieved here. Now that the attraction is finished, the feedback is amazing.
To match fans’ expectations, we worked closely with CBS in the US. We had a lot of calls and on-site visits to make sure that every little detail is exactly like in Star Trek – The Next Generation. We celebrated the opening of the new attraction in June together with Marina Sirtis, who has performed as Counselor Deanna Troi, a crew member of Captain Picard. Marina felt at home on the bridge! She said that she has seen a lot of Star Trek attractions around the world but ours is the best. Even better than in Las Vegas. What else can we say?
Star Trek: Operation Enterprise is a rollercoaster that gives our guests an adrenaline rush as they go from 0-90km/h during the first of three launch sequences. The Twisted Halfpipe element can be seen from quite a distance and stands out next to the High Fall (freefall tower) as the second largest attraction in the silhouette of Movie Park.
For guests who really like to get their heart pumping, The Walking Dead Breakout is still proving very popular. We launched this last summer after constant requests for a permanent scare attraction guests could enjoy outside the Halloween season. We’re offering now also backstage tours where we’re explaining some key facts and funny anecdotes not only about the construction of our attraction but also about the TV series. It’s still one of the most popular and strongest brands in the market. And our Halloween Horror Fest continues as one the biggest events of its kind in Europe; this year will be our 19th year.
With The Walking Dead, Star Trek and Ninja Turtles, we are staying true to our “movie roots” and we are trying to add film or TV-related theming to each new project here at Movie Park. We have the Star Trek licence for 10 years now, so it gives us time to think about further developments.
Our business year, which started with Halloween last October, has so far been better than the previous year. Now with Star Trek: Operation Enterprise open, we expect attract even more guests in the coming months. Weather remains one of the most most challenging factors for our industry. In the past years, we’ve seen it change from one day hot summer to the next day like autumn and then heavy rain, storms etc. I guess that’s just how it is in our region, North-Rhine Westphalia.
In 2011 Movie Park Germany established its own travel agency. We see a transition from our status as a single day visit to a destination; guests are spending more days in our park and our region. I think this mirrors the general trend in tourism industry towards shorter trips and weekend getaways. We will continue working with hotels around us, but have no immediate plans for our own hotel. In the coming years we will pursue a balanced strategy focusing on the target groups of families and teenagers/young adults.
Anyone who is aged seven or older and at least 1.3m tall can ride Star Trek: Operation Enterprise. For our younger visitors we are proud to offer Europe’s first Nickelodeon-themed land. To experience The Walking Dead Breakout, however, you must be at least 16 years of age …and then only if you dare!
All images courtesy Movie Park Germany
Star Trek: Operation Enterprise is a custom-designed LSM triple launch coaster by Mack Rides. It features 720m of track and ride elements as follows:
- 40m-tall 180° twisted vertical spike
- 30m top hat
- Heartline roll
- 100° over-banked curve
- 270° helix
- Zero-G roll.
- Top speed: 90km/h