New attraction will honor famous Valdez man
Frustrated with tourism options, group proposes new "Rikers Island"
One of many Facebook pages for Commander William Riker of Star Trek Second Generation, who, according to creator Gene Roddenberry, was born in Valdez.
An investment group with interests in the visitor industry is proposing to build a new tourist attraction to honor a homegrown Valdez hero – Commander William Riker of the Starship Enterprise.
Riker, the fictionalized second in command officer of the USS Enterprise in the Second Generation of the Star Trek franchise, was – or will be – born in Valdez on August 19 in the year 2335. The investment group said in a press release Monday that it hopes to capitalize on this fact by building a futuristic floating dock off of Dock Point that replicates the starship Enterprise as if it had landed in Valdez on what the group is calling Rikers Island.
Wink Plonsker, spokesman for Valdez Star Trek Entrerpises - the group backing the new attraction - said in a telephonic interview that the group decided to name it Riker's Island because it kills two birds with one stone. It capitalizes on the fact that Rikers Island is already a household name, which many recognize as the infamous New York jail, and gives trekkies – some prefer to be called trekkers – a chance to visit the hometown of one of the series' most famous human characters.
Worldwide, Star Trek conventions attract thousands of visitors – and their dollars – to conventions where fans pay to have photos taken with their favorite Star Trek actors and vendors sell millions of dollars in Star Trek themed merchandise.
For Plonsker, it's a way for investors to live long and prosper.
"We feel that a permanent exhibit in an exotic location such as Valdez will be attractive to the show's fan base," Plonsker said. "Items like Sulu toilet seat covers and Mr. Spock footie pajamas sell like hotcakes."
The press release said the attraction will be part Star Trek archive for actual props from the series and its numerous spinoffs and part amusement park, where visitors can be shuttled to Rikers Island on especially made speedboats that will be constructed to look like space shuttles from Star Trek Second Generation. Once inside, visitors can eat and drink from replicators – futuristic food vending machines featured on the show – and visit the holodeck to experience 3D fantasies while staff dressed as famous Star Trek characters such as Klingons and Ferengis keep the multimillion dollar fantasy exhibits alive.
"We won't be forgetting the original Star Trek either," Plonsker said. "We plan on exhibits that will let guests see what's in Spock's scanner and special events like Tribbles day."
Rikers Island, home of the New York City jail complex, the namesake of the proposed tourist attraction themed for Valdez hero Commander William Riker.
Property scouts have applied for permits to build a land-based terminus for visitors to queue on shore while waiting for the shuttles. Current plans call for it to be built to replicate Riker's future childhood home.
Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, spent time in Valdez as a guest of Prince William Sound Community College during the late 1980s when it was headed by the late John Devins.
In a 2005 interview, Devins said he when it was revealed that Riker was from Valdez, Alaska during the show's second season, he knew it was homage direct from Roddenberry.
The target date for the opening of Rikers Island is unknown because it is April Fools Day. While no known investor group is currently working on such a concept, it is true that Roddenberry visited Valdez and later made it the future hometown of Commander Riker.