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Never Before Accomplished

Engineering Feat: Giant Inflatable Dragon Perched on Empire State Building
for House of the Dragon Season 2 Premier

In collaboration with Giant Spoon and Bigger Than Life, our entertainment engineers have taken HBO’s House of the Dragon Season 2 premier to new heights with a giant 270-foot inflatable Vhagar, (Aemond Targaryen’s Dragon) perched atop NYC’s Empire State Building and coiling around its iconic spire 1,250 feet above midtown Manhattan.

A feat never before accomplished, the surprise reveal of Vhagar atop “the world’s most famous building” required collaboration, precise execution, and coordination by the world’s leading industry specialists with no room for error. To achieve the impossible, the dragon was held in place by over 150 ropes, each going to a unique rigging point on the structure.

Drawing of how the Inflatable Dragon, Vhagar, will be attached to the Empire State Building, an Engineering feat never before accomplished

Engineered Using Only Preexisting Connection Points

To protect the building’s historic facade, the team was not allowed to create any new penetration points on the spire when securing Vhagar, so we utilized preexisting connection points such as external abandoned ladders, fall protection brackets, and former antenna mounts.

Created as a temporary popup promotional attraction, our entertainment team needed to design reinforcing for the rigging points inside the spire without any welding that could be readily installed by hand and field adjusted by Jepol Industrial Rope Access working on ladders and climbing ropes. The engineering had to align with the as-tested load capabilities of the inflatable fabric material without causing excessive loads at the face of the 90-year old aluminum skin.

Inflatable Dragon Perched on Empire State Building, promoting the start of Season 2 of HBO's House of the Dragon

Overnight Installation of Inflatable Dragon
Amidst Wind and Weather Challenges

One of Vhagar’s major challenges at 102 stories high was to contend with wind, rain, and lightning. An overnight installation was needed to reveal Vhagar in the morning, and that required very calm and dry conditions for the industrial rope access team to safely handle and rig the fabric inflatable into place. McLaren’s structural challenge was to engineer the assembly to sufficiently high wind speeds but keeping within the capability of the fabric.

DTN provided focused weather forecasting leading up to the event, along with real-time weather reports throughout the process to ensure the safety of the installation crews and for Vhagar. With only one chance to pull it off, the structure was hoisted in three separate pieces in a well-orchestrated overnight installation. The iconic reveal was achieved in time for HOD’s Sunday night premier!

HBO Max Fan Adventure

This Manhattan marvel is part of an immersive House of the Dragon experience by HBO Max and the Empire State Building, showcasing both the show and an interactive fan adventure featuring a photo opportunity with the legendary ‘Iron Throne’ on the 80th floor until June 19th.