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2009 Best Ride in America Tournament: Beast, Maverick, Mansion and Apollo's Chariot

By Robert Niles
Published: March 30, 2009 at 2:03 PM
Welcome to the third round of the 2009 Best Ride in America tournament on Theme Park Insider. Today, we've split the match-ups into two threads. In the morning contests, Busch Gardens fans dominated the voting, pushing Griffon to a win over Disneyland's Space Mountain and helping Universal Studios Florida's Revenge of the Mummy hold off Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean.

We start the afternoon match-ups with Cedar Point Nation's Maverick taking on Cedar Fair sibling The Beast from Kings Island. Will Cedar Point rally its fans to defeat a coaster from its own corporate family?

Again, everyone, please read through the comments before casting your votes! Well-informed voters make for a better tournament. (Plus, reading the comments is more than half the fun of this thing, anyway.)

Busch Gardens The Old Country Williamsburg Europe Virginia's Apollo's Chariot takes on Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. Will Busch's fans turn out to eliminate another Disneyland favorite?

Anybody got anything to say? ;-) The comments await....

Also: For those folks joining us from Facebook, please take a moment to become a fan of Theme Park Insider, too!

Readers' Opinions

From Audra Distler on March 30, 2009 at 2:13 PM
Hmm one battle I can actaully comment about both rides one. The Beast - classic wooden coaster, well worth a wait since it's a long ride. Plenty of air time, lots of twists and turns. Maverick - a lot more speed, great mid launch, probably a bit more themed. Both beat the crap out of you and leave me often with a headache. Sort of torn on this one. (actually, I'm voting Beast strange as that is, because of all the 'blind' CP voters!)

Not sure about the other battle. Have been on Mansion in WDW, not DL, so not sure if there is a difference. However, in my looking up Apollo's Chariot, I discovered that Fabio was hit by a goose on its publicity run, so that could sway my vote! LOL

From Anthony Murphy on March 30, 2009 at 2:14 PM
I am not seeing any poll, but I am voting for the Beast because its one of the best woodie roller coasters out there and, of course, the Haunted Mansion, which still gives chills with 60s special effects. Really, besides the bride, the Haunted Mansion has used the same tricks from the 60s and 70s. The Haunted Mansions are more or less the same except I give props to DL for the streching room being an actual elevator and the ride being outside the property. Good use of space!

I will be annoyed if Maverick wins by a blowout!

From 75.185.67.19 on March 30, 2009 at 2:18 PM
Its hard to vote for Maverick over The Beast, because i love them both. But Maverick is the better ride in my opinion =/
From 71.90.83.244 on March 30, 2009 at 2:22 PM
As much as I love Cedar Point, I got to go with the beast on this one. That ride at night was one of the most unique and intense rides I've ever had. But that is not to speak down on maverick. I was very impressed with it for the style of ride that it was.

As for the other battle, I have to go with the Chariot, hands down. B&M hyper-twisters are incredible rides.

From Franklin Smith on March 30, 2009 at 2:31 PM
WOW!!! I am in trouble with this one!! I am a CP/CF fan and it makes it hard for me to pick between The Beast and Maverick. BUT my vote goes to The Beast. Beast has tenure and is, in my opinion, the BEST wooden coaster i have ridden. As for Apollo's Chariot -V- Haunted Mansion I am gonna hafta vote for Apollo's Chariot. Haunted Mansion is good but i personally liked Apollo's Chariot just a little better.

It will be a shame though when Maverick beats out The Beast because Maverick doesn't and will never hold any records and Beast has held the worlds longest wooden coaster record for 30 years. The "blind" CP voters just wont see it and i am sad for that.

( I may loose my CP/CF fan status for this comment but i gotta speak my mind and be fair.)

From 131.183.97.34 on March 30, 2009 at 2:33 PM
Maverick all the way! That ride is absolutely amazing! The first time I rode it, it was already dark out so you couldn't see what was ahead of you. I knew ahead of time that it didn't have any huge drops, but it was such a surprise! The mid-ride launch was a surprise as well--well worth the wait! Easily in my top 3 coasters.
From 207.75.228.112 on March 30, 2009 at 2:33 PM
The Beast ruined my back for life. I understand that it is really a great coaster, but you cannot compete with the smoothness and thrill of The Maverick. The Maverick is my favorite coaster - the twists and turns surprise me every time without disastrous effects.
From Mike K on March 30, 2009 at 2:35 PM
Beast is a great roller coaster and truly is a legend in the coaster world. However, in this modern day it can not compete with the thrills of Maverick. Coasters are not just about records anymore...
From Nick Markham on March 30, 2009 at 2:37 PM
Wow! I never thought I would see the day where the best ride in north america on theme park insider is a roller coaster! :(
From Derek Potter on March 30, 2009 at 2:53 PM
I think that posting this matchup at 5pm will help to curb the number of Cedar Point voters, because the matchup is not posted on today's blog on the website. The evening questions are...how many Cedar Point fans are taking it upon themselves to check TPI, and how many fans of other parks are voting for the Beast because they don't like the prospect of facing a Cedar Point ride.

My choice is The Beast. Maverick is one of the very best roller coasters out there today. It's well designed, has a themed queue, and it's fun. I hate to not vote for it, but I said it before and I'll say it again. I've ridden Beast hundreds of times for over 20 years and it never, ever gets old. Racing through a thick forest at 65 mph on a wooden track is about the closest thing to riding a beast that you will get (especially at night), and the helix at the end is one of the most memorable moments on any ride...anywhere.

The second one is a tough one. Apollo's Chariot is undeniably a good one. It's fun all the way through. On the other hand, I've always liked Haunted Mansion and those effects...I'll have to think about that one.

From Mark Mahoney on March 30, 2009 at 2:48 PM
I'm disappointed that Pirates lost. I didn't know about the "morning" and "afternoon" contest and missed the morning one entirely.

I really loved Maverick and think it has everything a good coaster should have, but have never been on The Beast. I looked at the comments on this site and youtube, and decided that The Beast would get my vote. It looked just as good as Maverick (I love a good woodie), and it also allowed me to vent my anger at the mindless voters. I'll have to try to get to Kings Island this summer.

I have only been on WDW's version of Haunted Mansion, and it knocked my socks off. Evidently, DL's is rated even higher, which gives me more reason to vote for it. Apollo's Chariot is a great ride, but I feel that it is overrated, because, unlike Haunted Mansion, there are other rides that offer similar experiences (like Nitro.)

Much like my NCAA bracket, my predictions so far have been very, very wrong.

From 24.192.27.75 on March 30, 2009 at 2:50 PM
I came here to vote for Cedar Point. But you know what, the Beast wins. The CP fanboys are gonna go nuts with the voting and that sucks, because The Beast is far better than Maverick.
From 149.164.163.9 on March 30, 2009 at 2:57 PM
I'll start by saying that I've never been on AC, so no vote there.

The Beast is a legend. It's probably my favorite wooden roller coaster. The tunneled Helix is the most intense spiral I've ever encountered. The thing about The Beast is that it has been tamed with trim breaks. The the only real airtime spot on The Beast is ruined by the magnetic brakes right before it. The speed The Beast was built for is lost to past generations (though I hear every now and then, they run it brakeless for coaster enthusiast events.) It's roughness is a bit extreme on some days, which is a downer (though a very small one.)

Which is why I'm giving my vote to Maverick. I have never been so impressed with a roller coaster since Millennium Force (Mavvie still doesn't win against Millie, but it's veeeeery close.) Maverick is non-stop action from start to finish (minus the slow-down for launch 2.) It has the most amazing airtime I've yet the experience (it's super-smooth, but oh so powerful.) Mavvie's "Stengal Dives" (the 2 overbanked turns near the end of the ride) are amazing. I've never experienced "lateral air" before. I also applaud Maverick for drawing such a crowd even though it's not a record breaker of any kind (though, the line times are annoying lol.)

So, my vote goes to Maverick. The Beast is among the highest quality of coasters, but for me, Maverick is the superior ride.

From James Rao on March 30, 2009 at 3:26 PM
The Voyage, the Beast, Thunderhead, El Toro. There are those four woodies, and then there is everything else. As the longest wooden coaster in the world, The Beast has been keeping it real for 30 years, and despite the fact that it is getting pasted here today, it is far and away the better of the two coasters battling it out right now.

Apollo's Chariot is the best ride at either of the Busch theme parks. While I love the Haunted Mansion as much as anyone with mouse ears for a heart, I gotta go with AC as the better ride.

Audra, interestingly enough, I had this comment in the first round of the tournament: ...Apollo's Chariot was responsible for blasting Fabio in the face with a goose...in essence, AC gave Fabio the bird....what could be better than that?

You and I are kindred spirits, I think! ;)

From Derek Potter on March 30, 2009 at 3:13 PM
That is true...the brakeless Beast run is something else. I remember when they always ran it brakeless. The trims do tame it a little, but they aren't always on.
From Don Neal on March 30, 2009 at 3:19 PM
I'm excited to see the Beast this far in the tourney but sad that it's losing. It's a legend in coasters and the original king of the woodies. Standing the test of time for 30 years! And it still rides like it did 10, 20 years ago. Same can't be said for some newer coasters. And at night...oh my! Nothing like it! :)
From Audra Distler on March 30, 2009 at 4:46 PM
James, GMTA! :) seems like we must be along the same lines, indeed. Must be the Midwest air! (OK, Missouri's kinda considered Midwest, right?) :)
From Jacob Sundstrom on March 30, 2009 at 4:47 PM
Don't let another Disney classic fall through the cracks because of it's opponents thrill factor. We should be voting on the overall quality of the ride, not what gives us a bigger adrenaline rush. AC has little to no theming, and no concrete story whilst The Haunted Mansion is a beautifully designed and told story that has enchanted people for over thirty years.. Please make the right decision when voting!
From James Rao on March 30, 2009 at 4:55 PM
It doesn't get any more Midwest than Missouri. We are the heart of the nation! Or the...uh....ahem....never mind...

It all depends on your perspective!

From Doug Kelley on March 30, 2009 at 5:08 PM
I haven’t ridden the Beast for many years but I remember it was an amazing coaster. My memory must have some cobwebs in it, though, because I remember a smooth, almost relaxing ride through the trees with some air. I also remember there was no way to see the entire track layout from anywhere on the coaster, which was really cool.

Maverick doesn’t break any records? Doesn’t it have the first drop that’s greater than 90 degrees? Or was there another one before it? I don’t know of one (not that that means anything). That 95-degree pitch is pretty cool!

It’s a tough choice but, based on my memory (which also has visions of the once-smooth Mean Streak), I have to go with the Beast. Besides, I love woodies even if they’re rough!

On the other hand, come on, Apollo’s Chariot against the Haunted Mansion (any one of them)? You’ve got to be kidding! No competition; HM wins hands down! It has that huge Pepper’s Ghost illusion that I didn’t really understand how it worked until I was in high school. Have you ever been in the elevator when people didn’t recite the opening spiel word-for-word? The scrim on the ceiling disappearing to reveal the hanging from the rafters is a work of art! The busts that follow you as you walk past? Come on people! It’s even better now that there’s a coherent story behind the ride! This one is a classic and it can’t go down against just another B&M coaster!

Will the afternoon competition go into the afternoon tomorrow? Seems rigged if it doesn’t! :)

From Doug Kelley on March 30, 2009 at 5:14 PM
And besides (yes, this is REALLY getting to me) AC is only about 200 feet tall!!! You might as well vote for Magnum XL-200 as the best ride. This shouldn't even be close!

Okay, breathe easy. Okay... okay.

From James Rao on March 30, 2009 at 5:22 PM
Welcome to my world, Doug. Sadly, you are only in the first stage of grief. Wait until the anger phase hits. Wow...I am lucky no one was physically hurt! ;)
From Derek Potter on March 30, 2009 at 5:47 PM
I made my decision on the second...Haunted Mansion it is.

Looks like Cedar Point may not have to link up anymore after all. Look at those vote totals after 3 hours. I'm sad that the Beast probably won't advance, but at least it lost to a worthy ride. Less than a month until opening day. I'll get my Beast fix soon enough.

From Joshua Counsil on March 30, 2009 at 5:53 PM
The tourney is now officially a letdown for me.

I can see Griffon beating The Haunted Mansion (though I voted for Mansion), but Maverick beating The Beast AND Tower? And Pirates losing to Mummy? COME ON.

All is fair in love and war, but that doesn't mean it's respectable.

From 163.11.59.52 on March 30, 2009 at 6:05 PM
Beast is classic and 30 years down the road I doubt Maverick will even be talked about anymore.
From Raul Araoz on March 30, 2009 at 6:30 PM
I was away...so, what did I miss?

What...? Even the Beast fell to the mob? Is there no end to the insanity?

On top of that, the only remaining Disney rides are Broken Yeti and Danglin' over Movie. Well, I guess they had their fun last year.

I can only hope that the Busch fans can muster enough power to support Apollo's Chariot and Griffon. Probably not. Robert...when is the coronation for Millenium Force?

From Doug Kelley on March 30, 2009 at 6:36 PM
Well, at least I won't likely have to decide between Millennium Force and Haunted Mansion. Don't know if I could do it.
From 70.160.240.53 on March 30, 2009 at 6:37 PM
Why is it that the Busch Gardens rides are always so underestimated. AC is the tallest ride in BGE (yes, it IS taller than Griffon) and it is the first ride you really see when you go to BGE. Just b/c the park only has 5 coasters, that doesn't mean they suck. Loch Ness was the first with interlocking loops, Giffon is the world's first floorless dive coaster and Alpengiest broke a few records as well.
From Franklin Smith on March 30, 2009 at 6:57 PM
Doug,

This is taken directly from the faq page on the Maverick website:

"Maverick itself will not break any world records. However, the focus of building Maverick was to create an all-around fun roller coaster. While all of Cedar Point’s rides deliver a different experience, Maverick will deliver one of the steepest drops on a roller coaster, fast-paced turns, eight “airtime” hills (where riders experience weightlessness), low-to-the-ground action and an exciting second launch"

I still like The Beast better.

From Doug Kelley on March 30, 2009 at 7:07 PM
Hmmm. Missed by four years and two degrees. Now I'm really ticked off. :/

http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/coasters/records/steel_records.shtml#steep

From 24.11.119.206 on March 30, 2009 at 7:10 PM
The Beast, though legendary, is just not that good of a ride. It's not even in my top ten wooden coasters. I vote Maverick (and I see that others agree with me. How nice).
From James Rao on March 30, 2009 at 7:27 PM
BTW, Mystery Mine...on that link right above Maverick...is a great coaster. You all need to check it out sometime. Sorry to bring it up, Scottland!

Plus that list looks out of date. There's a coaster at Indiana Beach called Steel Hawg with an 111 degree angle. It looks kind of weird though...and kind of cheap. And sorta wild mouse-ish. Anyone ridden it?

And with that I call it a day. Time to go catch up on 24, HEROES, and CASTLE. Monday night is a good night. Especially during football season.

See you all tomorrow!

From Mark Tilsher on March 30, 2009 at 7:35 PM
At this point I really dont see much point in voting. This years contest is really dominated by a small group of special interests.

I feel like I am voting rationally in congress... no matter what I do the crazy special interest mob is walking away with all of the trophies.

If this trend continues staples like Mythos and spiderman will be dethroned just like ToT was and we will end up with a fry cart and metal coaster (both from ceder point) being the best dining and ride respectively.

The credibility of this poll just doesn't seem to be valid this go around. And this has nothing to do with the parks involved. TO see a ride like ToT get stomped for a themeless coaster is really, really sad.

From Anthony Murphy on March 30, 2009 at 7:59 PM
The one cool thing is it seems that both contests have a bunch of votes!
From Derek Potter on March 30, 2009 at 9:31 PM
I'm actually quite disappointed about Apollo winning over Haunted Mansion. The more I think about this particular matchup, the more I appreciate Haunted Mansion. It has a little bit of a throwback dark ride style with the FX and scenery that it is well known for.

My Disney tastes seem to lean towards rides such as Pirates and Haunted Mansion because these rides are classic, original Disney concepts...developed before Disney threw their hat into the thrill ride ring. Their thrill rides always seem to fall flat with me because they rely too much on the theme and scenery and not enough on ride design. The coaster tracks are generic and mildly amusing, and most of the other thrill rides are quite frankly not worth their often endlessly long lines.

If they would take a 5000 foot, custom designed Intamin or B&M coaster track...or a GCI twister and apply the Disney theme treatment to it, then the great debate would be settled. They spend a hundred million bucks a ride, surely they can "splurge" on a real coaster track. Until they learn how to entertain thrillseekers without the theming, there will always be something missing from their thrill rides.

From 128.239.177.176 on March 30, 2009 at 10:17 PM
How can you compare the Haunted Mansion to Appollo's Chariot??? There don't really seem to be any common factors by which to compare aside from the fact that you have to wait in line to ride both (sometimes for a very long time) and they are both contained within a theme park. ?? I'm really not sure how to vote here.
From David Kirby on March 30, 2009 at 11:12 PM
Why did this poll close so early? Robert, I find it odd and confusing that most other polls are open for almost 24 hours but this one only for around 12 hours. If previous polls had ended sooner, the result could have been much different.

Anyway, Apollo's Chariot is my absolute favorite roller coaster. I think everything about that ride is incredible. Busch Gardens Williamsburg (or whatever it's called these days) is my my absolute favorite theme park. But to say Apollo is better than Haunted Mansion? That is quite questionable...

And also, Maverick being better than the legendary Beast??? Something is just not right with the voting today.

From James Rao on March 31, 2009 at 6:05 AM
Announcing Theme Park Insiders Favorite Theme Park Restaurant: Johnny Rockets!

Just go with it gang...the pillaging of the tournament will all be over soon enough. A casual glance at the comments in any thread since the invasion began last Friday will clearly show the attractions most liked by people with a willingness to register, vote, and comment on this web site. And while there is a disconnect between the comments and the anonymous voting results, don't let it get you down. Just continue to vote with your comments.

Just think: this time next year the Cedar Point Invasion (CPI) will serve as an endless source of humor during a new tournament designed with the registered user in mind!

Patience, Grasshoppers, every dog has their day.

Besides, several new regulars have joined the site because of the increased traffic...it will be nice to have their continued input and unique perspective. It is always good to welcome more people into the Theme Park Insider Family.

From 139.153.13.59 on March 31, 2009 at 4:11 AM
Not the result we would usually expect here on TPI!

Disney's Classic Rides (HM, PotC) are tough to beat when it comes to imaginative themes and story lines, but then Cedar Point and some of the Busch parks are hard to beat when it comes to fast, thrilling rollercoasters.

All in all it really just comes down to whos voting more - theme park enthusiasts or thrill seekers? This year it looks like the latter have shown their appreciation for their favourite rides more!

Roll on the Final Rounds!

From Rob P on March 31, 2009 at 4:49 AM
What's happening ?
I'm in the UK and , despite the obvious time difference, I've been able to vote in the earlier rounds.
Now I find that , now it's getting to the crunch,I'm either too early to vote one day and then....bang...too late the next.
Has the window for voting been shortened ? Have I entered the Twilight Zone ??
From Joshua Counsil on March 31, 2009 at 9:27 AM
No, Rob, you haven't entered the Twilight Zone ...

... it got eliminated by Maverick.

From Emily G on March 31, 2009 at 9:50 AM
Wasn't able to vote in this round as it wasn't open when I went to bed and was already closed when I came home from work just now. I would have voted for the Haunted Mansion for obvious reasons so am disappointed this hasn't made it through.

Hopefully I won't miss out on future votes.

From 98.213.43.123 on March 31, 2009 at 9:57 AM
The Beast is fine if you don't mind a headache and breaking a few bones,but if you just want some thrills that are painless....the Maverick is your ride.

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