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 Review of Apollos Chariot @ Busch Gardens Williamsburg
5 Rating Posted by: Timberman on 8/23/2007 9:43:00 PM
Lets just get this over with so everybody can get back to loving their favorite coaster designer without some crotchety old coot sticking his thumb in their eyes. I didnt hate Apollos Chariot. I just thought that on the whole it was boring in that way particular to certain categories of B&M roller coasters. People, I imagine, enjoy these rides for the same reason they enjoy stage productions like "River Dance." Going into it, they know that every element of the experience has been choreographed, synchronized, and rehearsed to the nth degree. If thats your thing -- and judging from the reviews on this website, it probably is -- thats fine. These qualities obviously have their appeal.

To be sure, Im not against choreography, synchronization, or rehearsal as a general matter; I just tend to appreciate them most where I want or expect excitement the least. So while theyre a big plus when were talking about, say, root canals or colonoscopies, they work less well for me in the roller coaster context. There, I prefer wildness, spontenaity, and surprise. Then again, Id also prefer watching break dancers on the boardwalk to cloggers on Broadway. You get the same level of skill and commitment from each type of performer, but with the break dancers, the experience seems more edgy and unnerving. Youre pretty sure nobodys actually going to crack his skull or dislocate his shoulder, but the impression that the whole thing could all go horribly wrong at any moment remains. In a word, its more exciting, and for me, at least, excitement is a necessary element in a great roller coaster.

Yet even boring ol Apollos Chariot has a few noteworthy moments, chief among them the first drop. On at least one back-seat ride the day of my visit, my restraint wound up rather loose. By rather loose, I mean it had just cleared the go/no-go line, which left several inches of space between the life-preserving clamshell and my bony pelvis. Now I must stress here for our young readers that I made no attempt to subvert or defeat the restraint system, nor would I ever violate the ACE bylaws by doing so or condoning anyone who did. In this particular case, it just so happened that the professionals at Busch Gardens saw fit to leave my restraint poised above, rather than upon, my lap, and I decided to leave it that way. As a result, I spent the entire first drop levitating above my seat. It was a wonderful feeling, the best Ive experienced on any B&M hyper.

Nevertheless, the big brains at B&M with their lab coats and protractors must have foreseen even this eventuality, since when the drop finally leveled out, the seat gently rose up to meet my tuckus, and the force of the pullout into the next hill authoritatively ratcheted the clamshell down onto my lap. The moment was like when the euphoria of being approved for a mortgage gives way to the slamming of the bankers briefcase, and you suddenly realize that the fun part of the transaction is over. Yet even during the time I spent basically free-falling some 200 feet, the experience never felt scary or jarring. Somewhat perversely, perhaps, I found that rather disappointing.

In fact, "rather disappointing" succinctly describes my impression of Apollos Chariot. Many of the good things people have said about it are true -- the layout continually mixes it up, the ride interacts artfully with its environment, a couple of the drops are rather sharp -- but to the extent it impresses, it still fails to thrill. Like far too many B&M coasters, it simply never cuts loose.

Apparently, the long-hairs with ripped jeans and concert t-shirts are all working in the suspended division of B&M, as a short walk from Apollos Chariot to the back seat of Alpengeist will demonstrate. That ride and any number of Batman clones prove that B&M has a few wild-eyed types wandering the lab. Unfortunately, none of them got anywhere near the drawing board for this overrate

Review Comments

Canobie Coaster on 8/24/2007 6:47:52 AM said:
Excellent review as always Timberman. I didnt find Apollos Chariot the least bit boring in the back seat (I will admit that my front seat rides were weak).
ginzo on 8/24/2007 9:21:45 AM said:
"the euphoria of being approved for a mortgage"

I think your "street cred" in enjoying "untamed" coasters is greatly diminished by this statement. If anything someone who gets a rush from being approved for 30 years of debt should love the carefully measured thrills of B&M, eschewing the riskier experiments of Intamin and the like.

Middle age is a *very boring* time, and nothing emblemizes this dark time more than a mortgage. I can, however, fully heartedly agree that being liberated from renting and apartment life is certainly cause for celebration. Im just bitter to the whole scene because I bought about 2 years too late. Had I bought back in 2000 when I was originally looking Id be about 100k richer right now.

P.S. If you think Alpie is a good ride, you *really* need to get down to Florida.
hrrytraver on 8/24/2007 2:45:59 PM said:
i think you missed the point, ginz. timberman may defend his simile if he wants - but by my own measure, you seem to make reactionary quips about minor points in ride reviews often and without trying to understand the point being made. or maybe youre joking around?
ginzo on 8/24/2007 4:26:08 PM said:
Im messing around. His central meaning isnt difficult to grasp. He thinks B&M hypers are over engineered, predictable, lacking in significant forces, and dont deliver the intense, raw ride that he craves. Fair enough. I cant dispute his tastes, as there is no accounting for that. I just got a kick out of him associating mortgage approval with euphoria. I associate euphoria with other things, few of them legal.

You say I dwell in minor points, but I strongly disagree. The difference between a great writer and a mediocre writer lays in very subtle details that the average person usually glosses over. I think Timberman is clearly the strongest reviewer here, and I get a kick out of his writing.
praxis on 8/24/2007 5:17:15 PM said:
All I know is, I could have done without the colonoscopy reference. Eww! :puke:
ginzo on 8/24/2007 5:39:23 PM said:
A colonoscopy can be your best friend. A coworker of mine is currently in the hospital with a pretty bad case of colon cancer. He might be a lot better off now had he done yearly colonoscopies, as people his age are supposed to.
hrrytraver on 8/24/2007 7:34:53 PM said:
"I just got a kick out of him associating mortgage approval with euphoria."

ah-ha. agreed regarding fine points, but i still think you missed the point, fine or no. i dont think the comparison is signing off on a mortgage to euphoria per se, but rather to an inevitably short euphoria that by design fizzles out before it even starts to swim through the nervous system - "...gives way to the slamming of the bankers briefcase, and you suddenly realize that the fun part of the transaction is over."

ginzo on 8/24/2007 8:09:49 PM said:
Sure, but the analogy has to jive in ones head. I have no memory of any fun involved in getting my mortgage, except for a certain banker chickaroonie who enjoyed displaying her ample bosom to an inappropriate degree.

I think I get what the general grievance is against B&M. And its not just die hard woodie nerds that register these same complaints. Intamin fanboys lodge identical gripes about beemers. I think its beyond dispute that the Intamin hypers have more forces involved, especially where airtime is concerned. If only Six Flags hadnt ruined all the US Intamins with the most sadistic restraints known to man.

As for Apollos itself, I have a higher opinion of it than you guys do, but its hardly a top ride to me. I think its a fun ride with good re-ride value. I agree that the ride never goes balls out. If youre looking for a crazier ride at BGE, then maybe BBW is more to your liking. The ferocity of that canid certainly gives the impression that something could go wrong.
Timberman on 8/24/2007 8:48:51 PM said:
While I agree with the ginzmeister that "[t]he difference between a great writer and a mediocre writer lays in very subtle details that the average person usually glosses over," I also agree with hrry that an equally subtle line exists between literary criticism and breaking chops. I further believe that either is fair game on this website (Im guilty of both), and either is preferable to total indifference from ones audience. Even if someone is breaking my chops, at least the person is reading the reviews and feels strongly enough about them one way or another to respond.

I dont usually try to defend my analogies, preferring to let the marketplace of ideas sort them out. Here, however, Ive departed from my usual practice by taking an unusual amount of poetic license (read speaking out of my ass), in that Ive never actually had a root canal or colonoscopy, and Ive never applied for a mortgage. I used those examples to amp up the "coot" factor, which is a self-deprecating device I sometimes use to take the edge off when Im taking a beloved roller coaster like AC to task. I think, however, that theyre all fairly in play here. Wildness, spontenaity, and surprise are the last things I would want were someone to plumb my poop chute with a hose-mounted camera. Perhaps the mortgage analogy is more problematic, but I still think it works. Feeling that restraint clamp down on my lap immediately brought to mind the image of a vaguely sinister guy in a suit slamming shut a briefcase and spoiling my fun. Since I couldnt think of a way to make the image work with a lawyer, I went with a banker instead. Thanks to hrry for an interpretation that makes me seem more clever than I actually was. Ironically, MommaT, always my toughest critic, didnt bat an eye at the mortgage analogy, but she did pan the metal heads at the B&M lab, which she found to be a non-sequitur.

I still havent ridden the perfect roller coaster, and I still havent written the perfect roller coaster review. I am, however, enjoying the quest and the feedback I get from others. Thank you also, ginzo, for that timely word on colon health. I will have a bowl of All-Bran in your honor sometime soon.

ginzo on 8/24/2007 9:09:50 PM said:
I freely admit to breaking balls, especially if youre going to admit that you play up the elderly factor even though youre not particularly old.

I do think the B&M hypers are fair game for some serious criticism. B&M is a very cautious firm. I dont think theyre ever going to rock some serious negative Gs, especially considering that the Intamins have chucked a few riders to their untimely dooms. I mean this is the company that wont sell coasters to Disney because theyre scared of them. Still, theyre pretty solid rides IMO, and a lot of parks would benefit GREATLY from the addition of one. Like Kings Island.
Timberman on 8/24/2007 9:29:53 PM said:
"[N]ot particularly old" is of course a relative concept. While Im not that old amongst, say, those vying for the early bird dinner specials at Bonanza, Im certainly going to be among the more senior riders vying for credits at MOAs Camp Snoopy. The point is that we cant afford to take ourselves too seriously as adult coaster enthusiasts.
ginzo on 8/24/2007 10:31:52 PM said:
Agreed. Absolutelyreliable.com has put out some pretty damn good satire of coaster nerds who take it too far.
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