6 Things You Need to Know Before Going to Monster Jam

By Emily Papa, Macaroni KID South Hills Publisher February 9, 2024

Monster Jam recently sped through Pittsburgh faster than Grave Digger can do a backflip. It was my first time at any Monster Jam, but my husband and son have been to a few monster truck shows, and said that this one held at PPG Paints Arena is the best by a landslide. I am pretty sure that I was just as enthralled as my kids during the entire show (maybe even a bit more once I found out that the person driving Grave Digger was a GIRL - Krysten Anderson and that Soldier Fortune Black Ops driver Tony Ochs is a Pittsburgh native! You might have caught a few highlights on our IG stories, but video doesn't come close to capturing the excitement of being front and center to experience the real deal!

Pittsburgh parents have a lot of questions when taking their kids to big shows like this for the first time (and sometimes even the 3rd and 4th). We've put together some things to know before you go to Monster Jam the next time it comes to Pittsburgh to help you really enjoy the experience!

1. Travel Smart

I'll be honest. I love taking the T from South Hills Village into the city. The kids love it, you don't have to worry about any traffic, the cost you pay for the trolley is often easily less than paying for city parking, and you're creating really special memories with your family. It's truly my preferred way of commuting to a large event in the city. If we opt out of taking the trolley, depending on the event I'll either splurge for a pre-paid parking pass or use my go-to garages. Well, we made a last minute decision to drive down to this Monster Jam. We hit a ton of traffic going into the city, and we parked in Chatham Center garage. No lie, it took us over 40 minutes to get out of the garage after the show. That was a laaaaaate night for our already exhausted family. Don't make my mistake. Take the trolley or buy the prepaid parking pass. 

2. Get there early

Arrive before showtime for the pre-show where you can hear driver interviews, learn more about the show, and get the latest Monster Jam updates. If you are planning on buying any merch or concessions, you will find your shortest lines before the show. 

3. Bring Protection 

With Monster Jam engines powered by methanol fuel generating 1,500 horsepower, it gets LOUD in there. My kids do way better with noise-cancelling earphones than ear plugs. We ordered ours off Amazon and use them for all the loud shows. You can buy them at the arena, but there will be much cooler things you will want to spend your money on, so come prepared. 

4. Get in the Judge's Zone

I wish I would have known more about the voting system beforehand, so I could have had it up and running, not scrambling to find it at the last minute. Did you know that each Monster Jam winner is determined by audience vote? Well, I had heard that but wasn't quite clear on how exactly that was executed. During the Skills Challenge, Donut and Freestyle competitions, fans can go to and score each truck using an easy to operate sliding scale. 

Max-D rocking a jaw dropping stoppie at Monster Jam in Pittsburgh, 2022

5. Learn the Lingo

I know, I know. This might sound silly, but this isn't football people. The glossary below was taken straight from of Monster Jam terms that you might want to know before the show, so you can impress your kids when shouting out their moves in excitement. 

  • BACKFLIP: When the truck does a complete 360-degree flip from a vertical obstacle.
  • BIG AIR: Monster Jam trucks can launch up to 30 feet into the air and travel more than 130 feet. Prepare for lift-off!
  • DONUT: Spinning a Monster Jam truck in circles in one spot.
  • CYCLON: Similar to a Donut, but done at a higher speed
  • POGO: The Monster Jam truck bounces on the rear tires while standing up into a wheelie.
  • POWER OUT: When a driver uses a burst of acceleration to keep the truck from rolling over.
  • SKY WHEELIE: When a Monster Jam truck stands straight up at a 90-degree angle with the front tires in the air.
  • SLAP WHEELIE: When the front of the Monster Jam truck comes down and slaps itself back into a wheelie
  • STOPPIE: When the truck noses onto its front wheels, leaving the rear wheels in the air. Many drivers will put the truck in reverse and "moonwalk" it.
  • WALK IT: A one-wheeled wheelie that rocks back and forth between the two rear tires.
  • WHEELIE: Lifting the front wheels of the truck off the ground and driving only on the rear wheels.
  • BITE: Traction. The strength of tires gripping the surface.
  • BURNOUT: Spinning the tires to clear the mud off for optimum traction.
  • CASE IT: Hit the lowest part of the truck’s frame on the peak of the obstacle.
  • CUT TIRES: Shaving the tread off the tires for more traction and less weight. The process, done by hand, can take as much as 50 hours per tire.
  • DRY HOP: Doing a burnout to clear the starting line of loose debris.
  • ENDO: When a vehicle rolls end over end.
  • EYEBALL THE TRACK: Drivers and crew members walk around the track to get an idea of the obstacles and how to plan their runs.
  • HAMMER: The throttle.
  • HOLESHOT: being the first vehicle off the starting line; getting an immediate advantage over an opponent.
  • HOOK UP: Get enough traction for faster acceleration.
  • HOT SHOE: A top driver.
  • MASH THE THROTTLE: Step hard on the accelerator.
  • RED LIGHT: Leave the starting line before the light turns green, resulting in disqualification.
  • STAGED: Ready to start an event.

My little man enjoying his slushee in his Grave Digger souvenir cup at Monster Jam.

6. Be prepared to pay Monster prices for concessions 

It's inevitable. There will be tons of vendors selling tchotchkes that you really don't want to end up with. You might be able to avoid the die-cast monster truck if you already have it at home or if you picked one up at Walmart prior to the show. But trust and believe if your little Monster Truck lover is into sweets and swag, it's going to be near impossible to keep them from begging for the Grave Digger souvenir cup slushie cup or cotton candy. The souvenir cup is pretty cool (for a souvenir cup) with an LED face that removes for easy cleaning. Plus, the kids get to squirt their own syrup in! It's money well spent, especially if you saved on the headphones ;)

All in all, this Macaroni Mama gives this family fun experience a 10/10 and is already looking forward to the next show. Don't miss the next time Monster Jam comes to the 'Burgh! Become a Monster Jam insider to be the first to know when tickets go on sale and any special offers!

Macaroni KID publishers were provided tickets to this event, but all opinions expressed are their own.