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'House of the Dragon' activation brings the fire to SDCC with dragons, the Iron Throne room & more

HBO returns to SDCC with one of their massive activations, this time for the George R.R. Martin House of the Dragon prequel. Take a look inside.

By Mike Avila
House of the Dragon SDCC 2022 Activation

The Game of Thrones franchise made a splashy return to Comic-Con International: San Diego this week with a wild new activation centered around the upcoming series, House of the Dragon. The prequel series, set years before the events told in Thrones' eight-season run, debuts August 21 on HBO and HBO Max. The central premise revolves around the battle for power within the Targaryen family that threatens to plunge Westeros into a war of fire and blood. SYFY WIRE was on site for Preview Night at Comic-Con to get a first look, situated across the street from the San Diego Convention Center outside the Hilton Gaslamp.

Just as the new trailer made sure to include numerous quick shots of the various dragons inhabiting the new series, the House of the Dragon: The Dragon’s Den activation puts all its proverbial dragon eggs in the same basket. The entire experience revolves around a dragon-hatching ceremony. Outside the structure, you’ll see actors in costumes as they walk around a micro-version of a King’s Landing marketplace. 

House of the Dragon SDCC 2022 Activation

Vendors peddle spice, fabrics and weapons outside. Once you enter inside, you are escorted through a ceremonial dragon hatching experience that takes you from Dragonstone to the Red Keep. It’s intentionally dark to add to the intrigue, and special kudos to the actor portraying the Dragonkeeper. He stayed in character the entire time as he detailed the momentus occasion we were taking part in.

The entire point of the Dragon’s Den is to let the visitor experience what a Targaryen does in George R.R. Martin’s world. 

House of the Dragon SDCC 2022 Activation

We entered a chamber where each person selected their own personal dragon egg. We then carry it through to the next room, where a massive dragon’s skull sits, surrounded by candles. It’s a jaw-dropping centerpiece in an impressive exhibition. 

House of the Dragon SDCC 2022 Activation

There we bowed down in tribute, cementing our bond with the dragon egg before taking it to the cavern where it will “hatch.” It ends with the hatching of your very own virtual dragon egg using the new AR app HBO created for the series, “House of the Dragon: DracARys." It’s available now for download for free from Apple and Google’s app stores. The technology behind this activation is truly impressive. The virtual dragon egg is very cool.

Anyone who has attended past Game of Thrones exhibits at SDCC knows that HBO always goes well beyond the basic costumes and props displays. The “Dragon’s Den” is another flex of the company’s marketing ambition. This is a truly immersive experience, from letting you carry the egg to walking through a dark narrow corridor supposedly surrounded by dragons. 

House of the Dragon SDCC 2022 Activation

A quick tip for anyone attending Comic-Con and who wants to try the activation: Download the app before you leave your hotel. It’s a heavy download and wifi service around the Gaslamp Quarter is already a bit spotty. 

House of the Dragon SDCC 2022 Activation

And yes, the Targaryen-era Iron Throne did make the trip to San Diego. The throne photo-op was an annual SDCC tradition for GOT fans during the show’s long run, and now the prequel series’ signature seat gets its moment in the sun. We’d advise getting there early if you want to check it out. Judging by the reaction on Preview Night, this activation will almost certainly be packed all weekend.

House of the Dragon SDCC 2022 Activation

People who take part in the House of the Dragon: The Dragon’s Den SDCC experience get early access to the app’s dragon-hatching features. Everyone else will have to wait until July 25 when it unlocks all its features for users.