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Festa Italia - Apollo's Chariot - Roller Coaster - 2014

Beyond the Ride: Apollo’s Chariot


You drive on to the overpass and there it is, a looming purple structure rising and dropping over the trees like a sea serpent.  Her name is Apollo’s Chariot.  Currently the 5th best steel coaster in the world according to Coaster Grotto.  I am not here just to write about the coaster itself, I want to delve into the history and the namesake of this 15 year old beauty.

Apollo: The Sun God

photo via greek-mythology-pantheon.com
photo via

Apollo was not just the Sun God, but it was believed that his chariot and fiery horses were the Sun itself.  The ancient Romans believed that the Sun moving across the sky was Apollo, riding his horse led chariot, giving light to the world.  Apollo had a human son (a collective “yesssss” from Percy Jackson fans) whose name was Phaetheon.  Phaetheon begged his father to ride the chariot across the sky, to which Apollo reluctantly agreed.  Phaetheon lost control of the horses in mid air and flew so far away that the Earth began to freeze.  Trying to correct the charge, the chariot dove towards the Earth burning the fields.  Jupiter, Apollo’s father, stopped it with a thunder bolt, killing Phaetheon.

Sunday is named for Apollo.

An Auspicious Beginning

DSC_0718 AC is the first hyper coaster manufactured by Bolliger and Mabillard, which brought some more excitement to the park, as they were the same company that built Alpengeist two years prior.  The ride had a soft opening (unannounced sneak peek for guests) and then officially opened March 30th, 1999.  Along with the fanfare, the man known as a “True Roman God”, model Fabio, was in attendance and was front row for the “inaugural” ride.  Flying down the first drop, a goose struck Fabio in the face, leaving him bloody, but with only a minor cut.  He was taken to a nearby hospital and would not return for the meet and greet that was to follow.

Apollo Today

Apollo’s Chariot is still a favorite of many coaster fans around the world.  Her speed and bank turns make her an exciting ride.  For more info on AC go here.

Beyond the Ride: Curse of DarKastle

800px-Neuschwanstein_Castle_LOC_printThis is the first installment of my new “Behind the Ride” series, focusing on the story of the ride itself, it’s history and background.

Curse of DarKastle: About the Ride

DarKastle opened May 1, 2005.  It was designed by Falcon’s Treehouse, LLC, manufactured by Oceaneering and the 4D media was developed by Super 78 studios.  The ride use pneumatic airbags to pitch, yaw, heave and roll the cars to give the rider a 4D experience that matches the 3D screen images.

You enter a room where a preshow begins, explaining the fictional tale of Mad King Ludwig’s rise to power and eventual bankruptcy.  He then threw a party for his naysayers and they all mysteriously vanished.  The ride takes you through the DarKastle in one of Ludwig’s golden sleighs, with the help of the ghostly image of Ludwig’s mother, who is trying to help you escape her son’s grasp.

Be sure to look around at the sets when you ride.  Everything was very well done to immerse you into the experience.

In the library, with the fireplace, the books on the wall have been signed by employees of the park.

On hot days, lines can get long with people looking to get inside from the heat.

Curse of DarKastle: The real story

Portrait of Louis II, King of Bavaria King Ludwig II of Bavaria was a very eccentric individual, squandering his family’s fortune on lavish and mysterious castles and art.  Ludwig was a student of architecture and was a patron of Composer Robert Wagner.  He was deemed insane by his ministers due to his overspending and excessive borrowing.  Many in Bavaria still see him as a visionary due to his architectural advancements.  His most noted structure is Neuschwanstein Castle, which DarKastle is loosely based on.  He reigned from 1882, at age 18, to 1886, upon his death.  There are still many theories on Ludwig’s death.  The newly formed German Empire saw the country was not financially sound and strongly asked Ludwig to stop his overspending.  He continued to borrow money from family and plan big projects, and was soon 14 million marks in debt.  He was deemed insane and was taken into custody and transferred to Berg Castle on Lake Starnberg.  He was found in the lake, after taking a walk with one of his accusers, and it was ruled a suicide by drowning, though there was no water in his lungs and he was a strong swimmer.  Neuschwanstein has been open to the public since seven weeks after Ludwig’s death, and is visited by 1.4 million people a year.


Curse of DarKastle: My Experience

I have ridden DarKastle many times, with my children and without.  My youngest (7), is absolutely terrified of this ride, while my older two (11, 9) love it!  I see it as a fun ride, with cool sets and an exciting journey through a haunted castle.  I give this ride a 3 1/2 out of five.


Coming Next:   The story of Apollo’s Chariot