By Ole Orset, special to Fairfax Family Fun
A sure sign of Monster Jam weekend in DC: the scores of families and children trekking through Chinatown with protective earmuffs. And ticket scalpers trying to sell more earplugs and hearing protection, than tickets, outside of the arena. Monster Jam is both loud and noisy. And it is served up with a side of dust and fumes. But it all blends into a true multimedia show that engages the audience, all while showcasing the mad driving skills of the monster truck drivers.
And with its wide diversity among its drivers, and a lone superstar female driver Kayla Blood (Soldier Fortune), it is easy for just about any kid or family, regardless of ethnicity or origin, to identify with its drivers.
What to expect
Monster Jam is produced by our local friends at Feld Entertainment (headquartered in Vienna) of Disney on Ice and Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Circus fame. It makes for a show that is well produced, tight and of high quality.
The show we attended lasted nearly two and a half hours, including an intermission. It certainly gives value for your money, but it is also fair to say that the grand finale of the Monster Jam freestyle competition, with the spectacular jumps and airborne monster trucks that have made this event iconic, would have been equally welcome even if it came 30-60 minutes earlier. The format of dirt racing is the same, whether you race monster trucks or speedy ATVs. And it is an indication of the length of the show, that the rescue of an overturned Monster Truck, was a welcome distraction.
The Monster Jam show is presented as a competition, where the monster truck drivers compete in four different events, on vehicles of different sizes and power, eventually declaring the champion of the day. Through an online voting system, the audience participate and help pick the winner in several of the competitions. The voting brings the audience into the show, is fun and engaging.
A minor drawback is that the event, where you finally find yourself away from your house and its screens and tablets, is dependent on that same smart phone screen, to give the complete Monster Jam experience. A tip is also to arrive with a fully charged cell phone battery, as this is your primary source for photos and videos (and voting). The arena prohibits larger tablets or cameras with detachable lenses. And true to its circus roots, be prepared for the unavoidable up-sale, that being pre-show and after VIP-events, or Monster Jam merchandise and souvenir drink cups.
Monster Jam is a unique experience, and should be part of any family bucket list. It truly shows how much fun you can have with a pile of dirt in the middle of the Capital One Arena. Not to mention the urge to buy a replica of The Grave Digger, Alien Invasion or Soldier Fortune, and use it during the evening commute, when the DC rush-hour comes to a standstill…
All photos in this post by Ole Orset