TICONDEROGA, N.Y. — It's like William Shatner got stuck in a Star Trek time warp.
The 87-year-old actor visited a doppelganger of the original Starship Enterprise set in upstate New York for a fans' weekend on Friday. He wore a dark jacket this time instead of his gold Capt. James T. Kirk shirt, but the command chair was still comfortable and the blinking lights of the bridge were just as he remembered them.
"This set is exactly the way it was 50-odd years ago," Shatner said. "And it's like it's coming back to a house you might have been born in and you look around and it's like, 'Wow! It's bigger and smaller than I remember. And yet it's the same.'"
Shatner said the set reminded him of both the emotional moments and the laughs, like when crew members would forget to open the sliding doors as he approached.
"I'd crash into the door," he said with a laugh. "And then I began to learn to make my one 'whhhoshhh' sound as I went out the door."
The "Captain on the Bridge" weekend runs Friday and Saturday at a tourist attraction boasting replicas of the original series' bridge, transporter room, sick bay and other sets. Tickets ranged as high as $1,500 for a chance to ask Shatner questions on the bridge, though "red shirt" tickets were $85. The attraction's website made clear "Mr. Shatner is NOT leading tours!"
Finding a Star Trek set built at the site of an old dollar store near the Vermont border seems highly illogical, but it was a labor of love for local resident James Cawley. The professional Elvis impersonator began the years-long process of building the sets in 1997 after inheriting a copy of the original Enterprise blueprints from a costume designer on the original show.
At first, Cawley and his crew used the sets to make a series of Star Trek fan films. Now the sets are a tourist attraction.
Dozens of fans waited outside Friday to greet Shatner, whose TV show that went off the air almost 50 years ago. Many, like Glenn Coker of Catskill, New York, wore Star Trek uniforms. They said it was still a thrill to see Shatner.
"I'm a sci-fi person. Transporters beam me up. All the different things. Phasers," said Coker, who wore a Capt. Kirk shirt. "Plus, Kirk always got the girl."