Friday, March 24, 2023

Brooklyn Boldly Goes Into CAMP’s Star Trek: Prodigy Experience

ExperiencesThemed ExperiencesBrooklyn Boldly Goes Into CAMP's Star Trek: Prodigy Experience

by Spencer Bollettieri, freelance writer for Theme Park Magazine

Through a collaboration between CAMP stores and Nickelodeon, a novel experience based on the animated TV series Star Trek: Prodigy awaits young voyagers clever and bold enough to explore the final frontier. Set in the boundless universe of Star Trek and located on Brooklyn’s DeKalb Avenue, guests can now star in an interactive adventure with the animated crew of the starship USS Protostar. Using showmanship, innovation, and the mythology of one of the greatest sci-fi franchises of all time, Star Trek: Prodigy Experience hopes to be the latest in a proud history of attractions that include Star Trek: The Experience and Star Trek Adventure.

The Magic Door to a Star Trek Experience

Similar to other CAMP stores, it’s easy to be deceived by the humble novelty shop that acts as a queue for the main attraction. However, once visitors are ready to embark on their Star Trek adventure, they’re all called over to CAMP’s “magic door.” While at first skeptical children may dismiss the wall as just another set of shelves, it’s after CAMP counselors tell them to spin around and push on them that the door opens up. Young explorers watch in amazement as a gateway to the final frontier opens up, and they’re welcomed into the world of Star Trek: Prodigy.

During a short elevator trip, guests come up with a name for their crew before being ushered towards a podium. After being greeted by Captain Janeway’s hologram from Star Trek: Prodigy and giving their crew’s name, each perspective Starfleet recruit is equipped with a wristband tricorder. It’s explained that unlike “Mickey & Friends x CAMP: An Extra Big Adventure,” recruits will engage in an open series of simulations to see whether they have what it takes to join the crew of the USS Protostar. Using the tricorders, it’s up to them to collect coins, rack up points, and complete a series of simulated missions. From there, the doors open up, and Janeway’s gauntlet begins as each crew begins their tests.

Reminiscent of Star Trek’s holodecks, most of the experience is self-guided with different activities. For those who enjoy exploring, CAMP has set up a starship for younger crewmates to crawl through and an obstacle course on the lava planet Nibiru for people to hop across. If they enjoy games, others may be inclined to slingshot incoming meteorites away from Earth, use rovers to collect coins, or perhaps test their memory on the ice planet of Andoria. Or, if they’re feeling particularly creative, Janeway challenges guests to channel the imagination of Gene Roddenberry and build an alien civilization with blocks. Overall, the activities are simple enough, designed to be accessible to younger children, but the tricorders they wear make the attraction innovative, giving their playtime an arcade-like experience.

Game Shows and Arts & Crafts

Towards the end of the experience, children become contestants in CAMP’s “Galactic Gameshow.” Hosted by a CAMP counselor in the role of a hologram, they test to see if the recruits have the traits valued by Starfleet. The first round is a trivia game where contestants answer questions that range from campy jokes and riddles to Star Trek knowledge and space facts. While the goal is to answer these questions correctly, funny answers also receive recognition. For example, in one case, when the holographic host asked: “Which planet has seven rings?” a young recruit got credit (and a few chuckles) for answering: “The jewelry store!

The second round of Galactic Gameshow embraces creativity as an art challenge preparing contestants for contact with alien life and unknown worlds by having them draw their own. Finally, inspired by the boldness of James T. Kirk, children are asked to spin a wheel and test their bravery with fun challenges. Although not exactly the Kobayashi Maru, it takes courage for young Starfleet recruits to run to their parents and accuse them of being a shapeshifter or dance across an imaginary lava field to the tunes of BTS. After the show ends, the players leave with a heartfelt and sentimental “live long and prosper” as the host tells them they’ve earned a place on the USS Protostar.

The final part of the attraction focuses on CAMP’s knack for arts and crafts. Although offering ceramics and wooden toys to paint in various locations, “The Star Trek: Prodigy Experience”  prides itself on its galactic slime workshop, inspired by Murf, the Protostar’s gooey alien. The tables are tended to by passionate staff and offer everything kids need to create their masterpiece. Additionally, a big screen showing clips of Star Trek: Prodigy allows audiences to familiarize themselves with the characters as they let their alien concoction congeal.

When ready to leave, guests walk to a checkout station, where a screen displays the scores of the various crews and how they rank. Then, after a CAMP counselor removes the electronic components of the tricorders, visitors are allowed to bring them home as a souvenir. From there, it’s a simple voyage home back to CAMP going warp speed in one of the USS Protostar’s chambers as a projection plays through the window.

CAMP Growing through Innovation and Licensed Partnerships

CAMP stores are an innovative shopping experience that combines family-friendly excursions with the charm of a traditional novelty shop. With multiple locations in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, New Jersey, and Texas, the CAMP franchise has quickly grown since opening in 2018. Having worked with noted names like Disney for their “Mickey & Friends x CAMP: An Extra Big Adventure,” “The Star Trek: Prodigy Experience” is another enterprising collaboration with Nickelodeon launching from CAMP’s Brooklyn location.

We want the Trekkies but want to create them too,” said director of partnerships Ari Levinson, excited about what Nickelodeon was doing to expand Star Trek’s universe and their part in helping to bridge the gap towards the next generation.

Compared to previous Star Trek attractions, CAMP and Nickelodeon offer something different but just as special. Although “The Star Trek: Prodigy Experience” creates an interactive extension of the show, it’s less about living out fantasies of being on the Enterprise and more about handing them off to a new generation, inspiring hopes and aspirations as boundless as the ever-expanding universe. In that respect, “The Star Trek: Prodigy Experience” does its job as children from all walks of life play, build, and explore strange new worlds with bravery, intelligence, and wonder.

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Feature image courtesy of CAMP for the Star Trek: Prodigy Experience

About Spencer Bollettieri: As a biologist, journalist, and writer, Spencer Bollettieri has written for sites such as Screen Rant. Although mostly based out of New York, he’s traveled the world in pursuit of new stories.

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