By Ani Bundel
CBS All-Access has come to San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 with a Star Trek-heavy slate, featuring everything from the upcoming Star Trek: Picard series to the ongoing hit Star Trek: Discovery. But for fans who can’t make it into the panels, there’s also the Star Trek Universe booth in the Exhibition Hall, featuring one of the must-try Activations of SDCC, the Transporter Room. I got a chance to test it out and found that going through a transporter doesn’t feel all that odd at all.
Like all popular Activations, there will be a line. (Isn’t there always at SDCC?) But the one for the Star Trek booth works a little differently than most. New “Recruits” are taken into the Activation six at a time (or slightly more if you have a big group who want to do it together), so the line moves in chunks rather than a steady march. Recruits are then given a little history lesson about transporter technology, and invited to explore the booth’s historical artifacts, from early phasers and communicators of the 2260s to Picard wines from the end of the 24th Century.
Then one at a time, each recruit gets to head into the Transporter Room to travel the stars. For fans of multiple treks, this is the Discovery transporter room, so don’t expect the shimmering glitter of fancy upgraded tech from the 2370s and 80s of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. The Discovery’s Transporter Room is old school, with flashing lights, whirring sounds and bass line thuds. It’s like traveling through space would like to compete with 1990s era raves.
And then the room changes all around you because you’re no longer on the Enterprise. Look quick, you’ve been transported to the Klingon homeworld. Then the lights flash again, and you’re with your runabout, in the middle of a space battle. Not to worry though, a few flashes and whirs later and you’re back inside and safe, phew!
Over the years, Star Trek has discussed what transporting feels like, and how it makes some users nervous. (A few famously won’t use them at all.) As a fan of the show, I always figured the process of having one’s body moved cell by cell from one place to another would at least tickle a little bit. But actually, the journey is quite comfortable.
Once you’ve taken a trip around the Discovery universe, the Activation sends you an email with your video to celebrate the experience and congratulates you on completing your training. Everyone who goes through the experience gets a Picard themed “Visitor” pin for posterity.
Though the Star Trek Universe booth ensigns were all professionals who handled just about anything fans could ask them, sadly they couldn’t answer my one question about the upcoming Picard show this fall. Will bottles of Chateau Picard Bourgogne be available in stores in time for the premiere? But then again, one probably shouldn’t mix drinking and transporter room antics anyway.
Fans can head over and test the Transporter experience out for themselves at Booth #4237 from Thursday to Sunday, July 18-21, 2019. Star Trek: Picard will premiere later in 2019. Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 is expected to return in January of 2020.