Ryan Thomason

Geek Dad Report: Dragons are coming! For Training and Entertainment Purposes

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Alright, normally I don’t get excited over kids stuff, but this is How to Train your Dragon! Live! Maybe I’ve watch the movie(s) and the new TV Show too many times with my kids, but I really dig this franchise.

When I first heard about the US Tour of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR, I knew it was something that I could get into with my kids, when I found out they’re coming to my locally for a stop at Energy Solutions Arena here in Salt Lake City, I had to do some extra digging.

Holy crap did the details blow me away. Enough that I had to make a post out of it just to point out how much I love where our advancement in technology has taken us.

First, this show is going to have large animatronic dragons that we all know and love from the show flying all over the damn place and a backdrop of Berk that is made up of 9 movie screen combined. To say this thing is large is scale may be bit of an understatement.

Some of the dragons that they bring to life are Night Fury (Toothless, duh), Deadly Nadder, Monstrous Nightmare, Gronckle (I have a soft spot for these guys) and Red Death, which is the largest animatronic ever built by the Creature Technology company with 12 months of work (Head and neck total length 39ft+, head 16ft wide and 20ft high, tail is 66ft long)

Want some more information to help you with the scale of this event? Each dragon approximately has: 885 feet of hydraulic hose, about 1000 square feet of dragon skin, 430 cubic feet of foam, 20 gallons of paint, 13 kilowatts of power from 18 truck batteries, half a mile of cabling in each body, 24 microprocessors control movement along with 15 hydraulic rams and 6 hydraulic motors each. And for fun; 500 bearings, 3000 nuts and bolts, 7000 feet of bungee cord, and over 10,000 feet of steel in the creation process. These things are frigging massive. Heck, Toothless alone takes 4 people to operate. 1 Driver, 2 Puppeteers and 1 additional puppeteer to control Toothless’ facial
expressions.

One of the things I was most interested in was how they manage to fly all these car sized dragons around, and after asking for some details they delivered, check this out.

The Flight Track System:

  • One of the most ambitious theatrical technologies ever to tour arenas.
  • A system this complicated has never been attempted for a touring show before.
  • It is a mixture of technology from car manufacturing plants, rail roads and rollercoasters
  • Acts like a small metro system flying the dragons from backstage, around the arena and back
    again.

  • Each section of the track is individually powered and we only ever have the section of track a
    creature is on and the section it is next to move on powered. This is for safety and also cuts
    down on the amount of power required for the track.

  • Each flight carriage weighs as much as an elephant.
  • Fully assembled and loaded with the dragons, it weighs 28 tons or nearly 62,000 pounds!
  • The heaviest carriage (Toothless’) weighs about 7,500 pounds which is about the weight for a
    current model Range Rover.

  • Over the course of the show, Toothless travels approximately 1.2 miles on the flight track.
  • The dragons travel up to speeds of 15-20 mph.
  • The creatures scan a barcode strip as they run around the track which tells them (and us) where
    they are at all times.

  • Each carriage has a series of winches and liner actuators capable of top speeds of up to 10 feet
    per second.

  • We use a network of compressed air to drive the switch points.
  • A meticulous rigging (hanging) plan is developed by our head rigger for each venue the show
    plays in to ensure that the 145,000 pounds of equipment installed into the roof doesn’t overload
    the building. Weight of possible snow on the roof and sometimes the likelihood of strong wind has to
    be factored into these calculations.

So, yeah, my kids are going to freak out in a good way when they see this thing.

I’m not sure who’s going to be more excited, me or them. I love all the technical stuff that is going into this thing, and as it gets closer to our tour stop I’ll give you more details, since well, I’ll be seeing them Dragons up close and personal. Now, where did I put my riding boots? The Salt Lake City stop is at the EnergySolutions Arena, January 10-13, 2013. If you want to be crowned PARENT OF THE YEAR, check out the awesome VIP Packages and if the TOUR STOPS near you. If your kids are like mine and love this movie (hopefully you guys have been watching the really good Riders of Berk show on Cartoon Network too) this is something we have to do as a parent, because we love awesome technology and flying things. Oh, and making our kids happy. That too. This is for…the kids, not us. Right?

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