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2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: The Bolliger & Mabillard Mega Coaster

By Robert Niles
Published: March 10, 2010 at 10:32 AM
By far, the most popular roller coaster model among Theme Park Insider readers is the Bolliger & Mabillard Mega Coaster. In fact, the reason why I implemented the rule for this year's Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament that only one installation of any model would be included was because of the B&M Mega. Without that rule, five of the top 10 coasters in the tournament would have been B&M Megas.

While I love the B&M Mega, too, a tournament that reduced to voting on which Mega was the best Mega just didn't seem that exciting to me. So I made the call, and today we reveal which of America's B&M Mega Coasters received the highest average rating from Theme Park Insider readers, and thus, a spot in this year's tournament.

First, though, let me note the irony that even though the B&M Mega is Theme Park Insider readers' favorite coaster model, the B&M Mega is not the top seed in the roller coaster bracket. That honor, obviously, was won by another manufacturer, which I will reveal on Monday Friday. (Though, I suspect it should take you folks about 0.3 seconds to guess what it is.)

So... the second seed in the Best Roller Coaster bracket of the 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament is...

Apollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Apollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, in Virginia.

Featuring a 210-foot initial drop over a pond, followed by a series of 100-foot-plus drops that yield superb airtime, not to mention excellent views of the James River region, Apollo's Chariot offers a smooth ride, blending high-speed thrills with outstanding visuals. The open car design on the B&M Mega enables those sweet views, and Busch Gardens made full use of that potential with an excellent site placement.

Of course, no discussion of Apollo's Chariot would be complete without its, uh, rather notorious 1999 opening ceremony (there's some good POV of the initial drop here, too):

Okay, maybe Fabio "lashed out" at the park, but by leading to him being whacked in the face, Apollo's Chariot immediately endeared itself to a generation of fans who couldn't stand the male super-model or at least the hype (at that time) surrounding him.

Other B&M Megas include Kings Island's Diamondback, Six Flags Over Georgia's Goliath, Six Flags Great Adventure's Nitro and Six Flags Great America's Raging Bull.

Uodate: Starting tomorrow: The number one seeds!

  • Thursday: Best Movie or Animated Show
  • Friday: Best Roller Coaster
  • Monday: Best Live Show
  • Tuesday: Best Themed Ride
And a week from Thursday, first-round voting begins!

Readers' Opinions

From David Kirby on March 10, 2010 at 10:44 AM
Even though I've been on taller, faster, invesion-jammed thrill machines, Apollo's Chariot is easly still my favorite roller coaster. Maybe I'm just biased because this was my first B&M and Busch Gardens is my favorite park but everything about this ride just seems perfect. The surrounding scenery really does makes this ride extraordinary.
From Scott Sanders on March 10, 2010 at 11:38 AM
Just as fun riding it the 50th time as the first time. Smooth as a baby's bottom and great views all around. Enjoy listening to the noobs scream as you hit the first "drop" before actually hitting the real drop right afterwards. IMO, the front is much better than the back. It feels like the skin on your face is going to get peeled off.
From Anthony Murphy on March 10, 2010 at 12:15 PM
I think that Raging Bull at SFGA was one of the first!

Honestly, if anybody ever comes around Chicago in the future, you need to ride this roller coaster. Its one of the smoothest and most sweeping roller coasters out there! My personal favorite!

From Joshua Counsil on March 10, 2010 at 12:36 PM
They really should offer an altered on-ride photo of passengers sitting next to Fabio as he gets goose-blasted.
From Kevin Smith on March 10, 2010 at 1:03 PM
Since I have not yet been on Apollo's Chariot, I am interested on how it compares to Diamondback, my favorite B&M coaster. Anyone got any feedback?
From Anthony O'Neal on March 10, 2010 at 1:11 PM
I agree with Anthony. The Bull is a favorite of mine, too. Luckily, I'll be riding Apollo's Chariot in June!
From luis gonzalez on March 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM
only been on goliath, but what a ride. Right up there with shiekra as my favorites. super fast, air time for days, everything thats good in the world.

word!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From 68.142.172.175 on March 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM
and nuber 1 is...Millennium Force!!!
From Robert Niles on March 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM
Kevin, I rode both in the space of a couple weeks last summer. Apollo's setting and visuals blow away Diamondback's. Diamondback is a touch taller, faster and longer, but Apollo seemed to me a more dynamic ride, in large part due to the setting.

And I think Apollo's Chariot as a name better fits the B&M Mega experience than Diamondback, which sounds more like a woodie. Ultimately, this is an exercise in hair-splitting, though. Both are great rides.

From vernon griffin on March 10, 2010 at 1:44 PM
Smoothest ride out there
From 96.255.62.245 on March 10, 2010 at 1:55 PM
I don't think B & M Mega coasters are as enduring as most of the other readers on this board.... but to each his own.
From James Rao on March 10, 2010 at 5:12 PM
IMHO, the front row on Apollo's Chariot is the best ride in a park filled with best rides.

Well, maybe it isn't the best ride for Flab-io, obviously, but it is for everyone else!

From 66.217.144.117 on March 10, 2010 at 8:00 PM
I used to think Apollo's Chariot was a great coaster. However, the last time I rode it...it was a ride of torture. I waited in the single rider line. It appeared that a previous rider got sick on the ride. The workers were busy washing down a row of seats about in the middle of the train. After the cleaning, they dispatched the empty coaster to possible dry it off. I observed them "clean" the same coaster 3 times and dispatch it 3 times. There was only 2 coasters running. It was off season.
I finally got loaded onto the coaster. I was in the second or third row. The employees appeared to be unfamiliar with the controls. It took a while to load and launch the coaster.
The coaster came to a halt at the first brake run after the turn around. We sat in the hot sun for a while. It was probably 15 minutes but it seemed to take forever. The teenage riders were vocally expressing their displeasure over stopping the coaster.
Anyways, we get rolling - slowly- but we are moving. We crawl over the bunny hops, get our picture taken , and head to the station. We stop again. We can't see the load/unload area because the maintence building is between us and the unload. We wait here. We wait and wait and wait and wait. Did I mention the sun was very hot that day? After another 15 minutes, we finally roll into the station.
Oh boy, we can get off the coaster. Nope. We stop approximately 5 feet short. We are in the station but just a bit short of where the coaster needs to be. The restraints do not release. We sit in the shade this time. Maintenance is called. The employees offer water to the riders just in case anyone is thirsty. Nice touch. Maintenance takes about 8 minutes to arrive. We are saved! They huddle. They talk. They use the phone. They scratch their heads. Walkie talkies are used. Suits arrive. Oh boy, we will be set free. Let my people go!
Nope. They can't unlock the restraints. It appears the coaster has to be in particular position for the restraints to release. By this time, the beers I drank (it is Busch Gardens!) have worked through my system. I don't want water, I want the Men's room. (LOL).
The suits talk amongst themselves. The walkie talkie guys walk briskly around the station and the ride operators are pressing the same cotrols over and over again. The guy in the "booth" talks into the mike to do a "reboot". Oooh - everyone on the platform backs away. Things are shut down and restarted. We finally move the 5 feet we need. The restaints unlock. The suits still huddle amongst themselves. The maintenance guys looked confused. The ride operators look relieved.
NOBODY apologized. Nobody said sorry for your inconvience. Noboby said oooops. We were LOCKED IN the coaster close to 60 minutes. We waited in line while empty coasters launched. We were locked in the coaster, in the station, waiting to launch. We waited stopped at the turn around. We waited outside the station. We waited inside the station.
Just a "we are sorry for the inconvience" would have been ok.
Screw 'em and I'm voting for Griffon anyways. LOL.

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