An Amazing Dragon Filled Day

Yesterday, we had an amazing day.  It was filled with fun and excitement.  With explosions and heroism.  Oh, and with Vikings and dragons.  Yes, we went to see DreamWorks How To Train Your Dragons Live Spectacular.

Now, since we were treated to the VIP Experience, I have a lot more to talk about than just the show.  However, since B wrote about that today, I’ll cover that in my own words on Monday.  For now, I’ll just try to put into words how amazing the show was.

Going in, I expected a lot.  After all, we loved the Walking With Dinosaurs Live show a few years back and this show was put together by some of the same people.  Well, even though Dinosaurs Live was a great show, Dragons blew away the mark Dinosaurs set.

The show begins simple enough.  There’s a big stage.  Very big.  Nine movie screens long.


Hiccup comes out with the title of the show behind him.  He’s fishing, tosses his line back… and snags the screen.  As he tugs, the screen stretches until it rips right off and all around him explodes into fire.


This type of thing continues throughout the show.  Characters interact with the projected images.  In a lesser show, this might look cheesy, but they pulled it off in a big way.

If you are at all familiar with the plot of the DreamWorks How To Train Your Dragon movie, then pretty much know what happens in the live show.  Some items have been altered slightly (mostly for time constraints or because you’re dealing with robotics/live actors versus computer animation), but the basic story remains.

You are transported back in time to about the year 500 in the small town of Berk.  Berk is a simple Viking town, but one that is overrun by pests: dragons.  Hiccup, the son of the chief, is as unvikinglike as possible.  He’s thin and completely uncoordinated.  So when the dragons attack again, taking off with their livestock, Hiccup is ordered to stay inside away from the action.

Hiccup doesn’t listen though.  He knows that if he bags a dragon, he’ll get some respect (and perhaps a date).  So he runs off on a quest.

Here is where perhaps the most magnificent effect takes place.  Hiccup has to run over paths between exploding houses, across mountainous terrain, up the side of a cliff, and more.  Of course, creating this whole landscape would be expensive.  So they project it.  Not on the floor, like you’d think, but on the wall.

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Hiccup (aided by a harness) goes running along the wall, dodging projected explosions, hanging precariously onto a cliff that isn’t really there, and climbing a ladder before it crumbles.  As Christina (from Well, In THIS House) put it: "It was like something out of a video game, but he was the character."  (Trust me: My photos just don’t do it justice.)

Hiccup, despite his uncoordinated nature, actually takes down a dragon.  Not just any dragon, but a Night Fury – the most feared dragon ever.  And one that nobody has ever seen face to face.  When Hiccup goes to examine his prize, though, he finds he can’t kill it and winds up befriending it (and naming it Toothless) instead.  The results of this friendship has wide-ranging implications for Berk, Hiccup, and Toothless.

The dragons look amazing, as I expected, but I didn’t expect there to be so many types.  There are smaller models used for flying scenes, larger dragons that interact with the actors, and even shadow puppet dragons which are used during some dragon exposition.  They all look incredible.  They were so lifelike that I found myself wishing I could go down to the arena floor to pet one.  (Sadly, that wasn’t allowed.)


The thrills of the show left us all amazed.  When we left (reluctantly – had we been allowed we would have watched it a dozen more times), the boys and I had dragons-on-the-brain for the rest of the day.  This is definitely a show I recommend you go see.  (And, if you can’t see the live action version, check out the animated movie instead.)

Tour dates and tickets can be found by going to  In addition, you can save 25% off the cost of select seats by using the promo code "MOM".

Disclaimer: I received tickets to the How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular for me and my family.  However my opinions (and excitement) are my own.

Training Dragons Live

Dragon Live - NightmareThree years ago, B and I took the boys to the Walking With Dinosaurs show.  We were amazed by the realistic looking dinosaurs walking around the stage.  I’ve long loved dinosaurs (when I was young I wanted to be a paleontologist) and it was great to see my kids’ interest being sparked.

Many of the same people who made the amazing dinosaurs come to life have set their sights on a group of more mythical creatures: dragons.  Twenty-three dragons will walk, fly, and even breathe fire during Dreamworks How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular.  The dragons are very realistic looking (well, as far as fantasy creatures can be).

Vikings Train the Deadly NadderThese aren’t merely small, light-weight props, either.  Each dragon weighs up to 2.6 tons and have wingspans up to 46 feet.  One dragon, Toothless, weights nearly 4 tons and flies over a mile during the show.  That’s like having an SUV flying above the audience.  The entire production requires 30 18-Wheeler trucks to transport.  In other words, it’s a big show.

Of course, I haven’t seen it yet so this isn’t a review.  That will come later.  In the meantime, though, I’ve been reading up on the show and am getting very excited about it.  Here’s a trailer for the show:

Hiccup Touches ToothlessWe haven’t told NHL and JSL about the show just yet.  That will be a surprise for three weeks from now.  I’m sure they’ll be amazed by the show and will likely come out of it wishing they could have their own dragons to train and ride.  (Given their size, though, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’ll be glad we don’t have to feed one of them!)

If you are interested in attending a show, you can find tour dates and tickets by going to  If you are in the Albany, NY area, the show will run on Thursday, October 4th through Sunday, October 7th in the Times Union Center.  In addition, you can save 25% off the cost of select seats by using the promo code "MOM".

Disclaimer: I received tickets to the How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular for me and my family.  The images above were provided to me for use in my post.  However any opinions, not to mention enthusiasm, stated above are my own.

Rocking With The Laurie Berkner Band

Saturday mornings are usually lazy affairs.  Last Saturday, though, was different.  We needed to get up and moving quickly.  Why?  We had a concert to go to: The Laurie Berkner Band’s Animal Party at Proctors Theatre.


We got there early, picked up our tickets and, before taking our seats, got each of the boys a souvenir.


That’s a shaky egg – a small wooden egg that makes noise when you shake it like a maracca.

As we took our seats, I marveled at how close we were to the stage.


We also marveled at what a great looking venue Proctors is.  We really should go to more shows there!


NHL, being a drum player, liked the drum set on the stage.


JSL, meanwhile was prepared for one of the later songs with his monkey.


Before long, out came Bob (who plays the drums), Suzie (keyboard), Adam (bass guitar), and, of course, Laurie.  The boys went crazy as she sang song after song.  Meanwhile, I alternated between taking a ton of photos, taking videos, and rocking out with my kids.

Here are some selected photos from the concert.


Remember JSL’s monkey from before?  Well, at one point, he had to put it on his head.  After all, Laurie had a pig on her head…

In addition to having a pig on her head, her toolbox was invaded by a mouse intent on building a home for itself.

For fans of Jack’s Big Music Show, where her band is often featured, Laurie broke out into a medley of songs.

Finally, what concert would be complete without a groupie crashing the stage.  Of course, Laurie Berkner groupies are a bit shorter than some other band’s have.

We just love how the band worked her into the show.  They showed that not only do they play great music for children, but they know how to play WITH children too.  (At the time, I wondered if I’d be able to tell the mother of the little girl about this video.  It turned out that she posted on Facebook and B got in touch with her.)

All too soon, the concert was over.  It was time to take bows and head home.


Thanks to the Laurie Berkner Band for such a magical concert!

Disclaimer: We received complementary tickets to the “Animal Party” concert thanks to The Laurie Berkner Band. The opinions expressed above, however, are my own and this post was done because we had a great time, not in return for the tickets.

NHL the Rugrat Translator

One of the shows I’ve introduced to NHL and JSL via Netflix/Roku is Rugrats.  NHL has developed a passion for this show, burning through season after season.  He’s up to Season 4 already, the last season available on Roku.  The show went on to Season 10 meaning that the babies were "10 years old" and yet still in diapers.  I guess it could be worse.  Bart Simpson’s been 10 years old for over 20 years!

One of the premises of Rugrats is that the babies can talk.  The adults can’t understand them, but they do talk amongst themselves in nearly perfect English.  (Some words get replaced with similar sounding ones to humorous effect.)  The only one who can communicate with the babies and the adults is Angelica (and Susie later on).  Instead of becoming "The Baby Whisperer", Angelica uses this communication advantage to impose her will on the babies every chance she gets.

Getting back to our kids, JSL has developed a problem speaking.  He’ll drop syllables and seem to expect that we’ll understand him just fine.  If, for example, he wants fruit chews for a snack, he might ask for "uitews."  If he wants his feet covered, he might ask for "ahk."  Needless to say, this can get frustrating.  He thinks he’s being perfectly clear in what he wants and we can’t figure out what he’s saying.

We had one of those moments yesterday.  JSL didn’t want to eat dinner.  Instead, he wanted to play.  But he didn’t want any of the toys we had out so we asked him which toy he wanted.  "Idoam."  We looked at each other, had no clue and, on a whim, asked NHL if he knew what his brother wanted.  Calmly, NHL said "He wants his video game."

Apparently, NHL speaks fluent JSL the same way Angelica spoke fluent baby.  Let’s just hope that NHL uses his gift for good and not evil.  And by using it for good, I mean he is now the Official JSL Translator.

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