‘Yo Gabba Gabba’ star’s show at Knott’s Berry Farm is a hit with the kids in the mosh pit

A pair of new children’s shows at Knott’s Berry Farm from “Yo Gabba Gabba” star DJ Lance Rock have the power to set off a kids’ mosh pit filled with cartwheels, somersaults, back spins and wiggles from a tween crowd primed to dance and have fun.

The Nick Jr. children’s TV star will host two kids shows on select dates from May 21 to Sept. 5 in the Walter Knott Theater at the Buena Park theme park. Knott’s hosted a media preview of the twin shows on Thursday, May 19 with DJ Lance dancing, skipping, hopping, spinning and marching until he was winded.

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The new Knott’s stage shows are filled with the energy and quirkiness of “Yo Gabba Gabba” star Los Angeles-based musician, DJ and actor Lance Robertson – better known as DJ Lance Rock, who hosted the Emmy Award-winning children’s television series on Nickelodeon from 2007 to 2015.

The two new Knott’s kids shows – “Let’s Play” and “Everybody Dance” – blend together music, dance, play, education and family fun.

“Let’s Play” takes place inside DJ Lance Rock’s apartment as he dreams up a fun-filled imaginative world on a rainy day. “Everybody Dance” finds DJ Lance singing and dancing his way through his neighborhood while encouraging the audience to stay active during the interactive show.

The twin DJ Lance Rock shows at Knott’s feel like watching a youthful music festival crowd – Kidchella, let’s call it – with the disc jockey pumping up the crowd to cut loose and go wild. Only in this case, the gleeful and euphoric audience is a bunch of 2- to 12-year-olds who don’t need much encouragement.

DJ Lance Rock poses for photos after the media preview for his new show at Knott's Berry Farm. (Knott's)
DJ Lance Rock poses for photos after the media preview for his new show at Knott’s Berry Farm. (Knott’s)

The Knott’s entertainment team has done a great job of dressing the theater proscenium in bright oranges, pinks and purples that capture the unbridled joy of DJ Lance’s days on “Yo Gabba Gabba.” A dozen disco balls lit with spotlights send the message that this is a party and you’re expected to get out on the dance floor.

DJ Lance ran through both shows back to back during the media preview with about 100 kids and their parents in attendance – in a theater designed to hold 20 times that many people. It’s staggering to think how much youthful energy could be unleashed if the Walter Knott Theater was filled to even half its capacity at each DJ Lance Rock show.

The “Let’s Play” show begins with a video of DJ Lance running through an empty Knott’s Berry Farm past Boot Hill Cemetery, Calico Saloon and Charleston Circle Fountain before heading into the theater to make his real-world appearance.

Both shows share about a third of their material – including hand clapping, Simon Says and red light, green light games. The variations feature educational messages about cleaning your room, sharing with friends and the importance of reading. Short animated clips about things like being afraid to ride a roller coaster serve as rest periods in the show that give kids a chance to catch their breath and prepare for the next aerobic workout.

Each show ends with a blast of bubbles – and, of course, more music, dancing and high fives from DJ Lance.

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If you don’t know who DJ Lance Rock is, then this isn’t the show for you. This is not a rave-like DJ set you’d find at Coachella. It’s a slightly unhinged and completely uninhibited children’s TV show brought to life on stage designed to help preschoolers and grade schoolers burn off some excess energy while at Knott’s for the day. Think of it as a rainy day indoor recess inside a cramped second-grade classroom and you’ll get the idea.

The DJ Lance shows are intended for a very targeted audience of pre-teen kids. But Knott’s knows there are plenty of satellite fan groups encircling that core demographic who will enjoy the show as well. Kids who grew up watching “Yo Gabba Gabba” a decade ago will get a kick out of reliving their childhood. And then there are the legions of parents who have watched the show with their kids – back in the day on Nick Jr. or today on streaming services.

Apple TV+ plans 20 new episodes of “Yo Gabba Gabba” based on the former Nickelodeon show to accompany the 66-episode library of the original Nick Jr. series available on the streaming service.

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The core problem with the DJ Lance Rock show at Knott’s is that much of the performance takes place on a trio of video screens in the theater – leaving the stage dark most of the time. The simple yet engaging video segments with costumed monsters, fuzzy puppets and lip-syncing musicians could have just as easily been pulled off with a cast of live performers on stage. What’s the point of watching TV while you’re sitting in a theme park theater?

That live-vs-video question may only be a problem for Knott’s visitors wandering off the midway curious about the new show in the Walter Knott Theater. The whirling and twirling kids in the mosh pit at the front of the stage could care less if the performers were in the theater or on the big screen. They just want to dance. And DJ Lance gives them permission to kick up their heels and get their freak on.

DJ Lance Rock will appear in the Walter Knott Theater at Knott’s Berry Farm on May 21, 22, 28 and 29, June 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 and 26, July 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and 31, August 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28 and September 3, 4 and 5.

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