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Getting aHEAD of myself
Advisory Panel
Feb 12, 2011
It's been stated on millions of occasions across these boards that some of the park's most fantastic and powerful rides, such as Griffon and Apollo's Chariot, are severely lacking in distinct theming. To me, that doesn't seem "fair" to the ride. For instance, Alpengeist has that whole Alpine theming with the ski suff, the snow throughout the ride, the props, the signs, ski lodges, etc... Loch Ness Monster is loaded with memorabilia and props depicting a search camp for the monster, plus a "lair" halfway through the ride. Big Bad Wolf hurtled you through an abandoned Bavarian village. They easily could have called them things like "White Twister, Looping Legend, or Treetop Twist," respectively, and they went the extra mile to make a true experience for the ride. The thing is, if asked why you're going to ride Alpengeist, your first response isn't likely to be, "Because it has fake snow everywhere! It's like you're on a runaway ski lift!" But take that stuff away, and they'll probably say something like, "What's Alpengeist? Isn't this Batman or something?" It just makes the whole experience better.

But wait. Go to Apollo's Chariot, arguably one of the best coasters on the East Coast, even the country. You'd expect to enter into some mighty temple gone to ruin and plunge through scenes depicting Apollo's "journey to the sun," right? Wrong. You enter through a carnival tent, and the only thing even close to an attempt at "theming" during the ride is a little shack. Then you finish the ride, and notice the ivy-covered maintenance bay has posters and Italian artwork on it. And that the train has mythical Italian designs on it. Nice, but why so subtle? Why stop there? Then go to Griffon. The name evokes story and legends of a mythical beast attacking a little French village right? You enter by walking over a little bridge, and into a stone-and-wood building. Fits the theme great! Old-time architecture! So what's inside? Warnings about the beast? Newspapers plastered to the wall? Props and crates depicting some scene of the villagers wanting to defend themselves? Nope, just a building. That's it. After the ride, in the exit building by the ride photo viewing area, look up. There's some dusty collection of crates and barrels and other props, wedges in a little corner of the roof. Why so subtle? Why stop there? The point is, if adding theming to the experience has proven successful before, why did they figure such amazing ride didn't deserve anything to make them more than just a ride? I'm not saying they should enclose Apollo's Chariot completely and make it like Space Mountain to give it some theming. Again, with the exception of Verbolten (which has a heavy focus on theming for its main experience), the other coasters are still known mainly for being coasters, but those subtle little additions of visuals and theming are what make you feel like you're a sea serpent or wolf or some poor skier terrorized by an out-of-control ski lift taken over by an beast. Basically, think of it like this: Pretend each coaster didn't have a name. No signage, no send-off message. You'd be pretty ignorant to not figure out that Loch Ness Monster is themed to legendary some Scottish sea serpent. Or that Alpengeist is a dangerous ski lift in the snowy Alpine mountains. But if you go over to Apollo's Chariot, it could be anything. Or worse, nothing. Nothing but a purple coaster with some Italian designs on it. Then, you'd go over to Griffon. Those quaint cottages that serve as the queue and station are there, but is this "Ye Olde France: The Ride?" The barrels are there, if you even notice them, and that might help. "Gunpowder: The Ride?" How does this do justice to such mind-blowing magnificent rides?

The other day, I visited the park and rode every coaster, and when I got to Griffon and noticed those subtle little hints at attempting to theme these rides, along with a few other, like Mach Tower and Roman Rapids. Then, between the big "Lesser of Two Evils" debate, the uncovering of a totally adventurous drop tower that never came into reality, the loss of the tiny little details everywhere, like what used to be Killarney, and so on, I kept asking myself why they've stopped short of adding the Busch Gardens experience that used to exist (again, Verbolten is exempt from this scenario...).

That's why I decided to create this thread. This thread is where we can take our ParkFans nitpickiness and creativity and knowledge of the park and industry to brainstorm concepts as to how we could, theoretically, add some theming to these rides with such great potential and "make" them even better. Don't worry to much about how likely it is that they'll do it, or don't worry too much about the cost. Just try to keep it somewhat realistic, like "Hey, that would be cool if they did that! They probably won't, but let's try to slip it the park's way..." Try to be as specific as you can, and, if you want, even create some pictures of your "improved" attraction with Photoshop and post them! If an idea seems perfect, it could even be made into its own full-fledged concept thread. I'm posting this in Rumors for now because this is more of a big tank of ideas for concepts for rides. I'll post my own thoughts, too. We could even make this into a contest!
Anyway, I've made a list of rides we could "improve" upon. It's not a complete list, so if you can think of any more rides that fit into that category, let me know. And, of course, have fun!

Attractions Upon Which ParkFans Could Improve

- Apollo's Chariot
- Griffon
- Mach Tower
- Roman Rapids
Obviously this would never happen at BGW, but I always thought it would be amazing to have the rides pre show on the lift. As you're going up, you see effects and hear audio telling you the story of the ride. This way the story can't be ignored, everyone can see it (instead of being stuck in the back of the pre show room) and you aren't taken out of the story when the ride goes up the hill. I have no idea how much it would cost to do this, but even just putting a tunnel on the lift so it's dark and adding some audio would be nice (this depends on a quiet lift).
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Griff said:
Obviously this would never happen at BGW, but...
Like I said, as long as you're not going crazy and it's potentially possible, post away!

I like the idea, though! Or, on some quieter lifts, they could at least play audio telling the "legend" of the ride's story or whatever, sort of like Maelstrom at Epcot. Of course, the lift would have to be really quiet, though Apollo's Chariot does play music on the way up. Any ride in particular you were thinking of, Griff?
It was mostly just a general idea, but it could be really cool on Apollos because of the quiet lift, and there isn't much space to tell a story anywhere else on the ride.
This would be cheesy, but AC is about Apollo on his chariot, so maybe put up armour and a chariot, and FIRE! (Ok, maybe not fire. :)) I kind of like Griffon's line. It is simple, but it has a cool design. That is what I have to say.
I'm gonna try to be practical with this. So let's think about Griffon's theming. Very lacking. Now, there might not be any theming elements designed and implemented exclusively for Griffon, but that does not mean the experience is gone. The idea is a mythical creature, half lion and half eagle, is diving down onto an old french village. What supports this theme? The french village around you of course! It would be wonderful if there was more to support the theme, but is it really practical to put pieces of french theming along the track with the kind of pathway it takes? It's not about how well themed the station is, it's about how well themed the experience of the ride itself is.
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The sad thing is that AC's dispatch message doesn't even play anymore. Has anyone else noticed that too? Everytime I've been on it this year I have not heard it play once, that basically takes away half the theming right there.

Also, a lot of people don't notice this, but Griffon does have lift hill audio, however the ride ops never turn it on because no one can here it anyway over the very loud anti-rollback system. The lift hill audio is that suspensing music they used to play during the teaser videos when Griffon had it's own website before, and when it opened.

^^^^ I want those things to be restored also.
Nothing looks better than old stone structures when it comes to an old European theme. Griffon could have had an arched bridge with turrets; something along the lines of this:



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It think it would be awesome if there were a layer of fog halfway up the hills in Appolo's Chariot, so you would drop down into the clouds and then back out of them, feeling like you really were on Apollo's Chariot. Of course the amount of control over the environment this would require is wildly inpractical.

On a more practical note, how difficult would it be to wire the cars in the rides with speakers, so you could hear music, sound effects, etc.

I agree with Nora. Griffon could be exponentially more interesting if you dove toward a French town, visible from above, like a marauding Griffon. Speeding by buildings in close proximity, then swooping up out of them would be extra exhilarating.
What if the "themed" the cars on Griffon and Apollo's Chariot? Diamondback has a snake themed train, so Apollo could have a chariot themed train. Griffon's outer wing seating could look like the wings of the Griffon, and it could have a head and tail attached to it. I know, I'm cheesy!
For what it is worth, I always thought that AC was loosely themed to be a bit of a Roman circus, especially with those (thankfully) now covered murals at the end. The first lift always gives me the impression of flying towards the sun, as well.

Which is not to say that really cool mythological theming wouldn't be awesome.
Griffon wouldn't be too hard to theme. I really like adding crates throughout the farmhouse to make it look like the residents barricaded themselves, newspaper clippings, and slash marks in the walls/floors to add to the theming.

Start with the queue line and add a building over the base of the first drop. Make it look like a griffin actually crashed through it (huge hole in the ceiling). Add another building over where that weird metal frame/headchopper is. Have the ride near miss a third building at the base of the imelmann and add slash marks in the roof. Second drop could dive into an old church steeple/castle on the river and come out through the bottom. Last small hill before the splash could be another building that the griffin goes through before sliding over the water.

Theme the buildings to actual French architecture (obviously), but they've been damaged/destroyed by a mythical beast.

Oh and a broken Le Mans car prop sitting in a visible spot in the ride as a throwback to what used to be there similar to Verbolten's tributes to BBW. It would be pretty fitting if that happened.
I really like netdvn's approaches for Griffon. Things I would change: I would paint the splash pool a darker, more natural color, like its sister in Tampa.

The splash area looks a lot like a swimming pool to me right now in terms of its color. By changing the color, I would add some ruined statues into the water, just within safe distance of the train. Similar to Pompeii, this would evoke some feel of a ruined, terrorized area. Some strategically-placed turrets and crumbling walls would also help out. For instance, the bunny hop into the water could bust through a crumbling wall, full of fog. I also found some very interesting concept art for Griffon:

Perhaps a statue or Flight of the Hippogriff-style animatronic depicting the beast just before the lift or at the turn at the end of the ride would be spectacular (though it would never happen).

Apollo's Chariot - I've put a lot of focus into this one. It's all kind of disorganized at the moment, but this is kind of my brainstorming on how to theme the ride. If you guys like it, I might turn it into a full-fledged concept to see what would happen...

For Apollo's Chariot, more than anything, I would change the station from some cheesy carnival tent into some Italian temple or ruins, through which you enter past torches and Italian columns and such. Italian statues, some ruined, some not, would line the outside of the queue building. In the middle of the switchbacks of the queue, a statue of Apollo in a Roman chariot would sit, lending greatly to the theme. Painted Italian portraits/mosaics of Roman gods could be scattered on the outside walls of the switchbacks.
After leaving the switchbacks, and going down the steps to that flat part of the queue beneath the lift, would be the next thematic portion. Now, this would never happen. Ever. However, it would be fairly easy. Two classical Italian busts,
Placed next to each other in the little dirt pit along the rails, directly beneath where the track comes out of the station, where there are advertising banners currently (follow me so far), these two busts would do nothing except move their mouths (like electronic puppets) up and down in synch to pre-recorded audio, as they would discuss the foolish Apollo and introduce the plot to the ride among a conversation. Props like crumbled columns and portraits could also be here. Similar to the queue, the station would be converted to look like a Roman temple or whatnot. A small chariot figure could hang from the ceiling, which, for a really cool effect, could glow whenever a train would leave.

On the ride, the music that currently plays on the lift could still play, but as a background for dialogue from Apollo, depicting his flight. I like Stragedy's idea of fog at the top of the hill, so as the train emerges from the hill, the audio of Apollo could say something like, "Get ready to feel the power of the god of the SUN!" Then, of course, the train would dive down. On the second dip into what now goes into that little shack, said shack could be replaced with a slightly larger, Roman-inspired little building, very regal-looking, with an enormous, glowing orange ball representing the sun narrowly out of reach of rider's heads suspended on the inside from it ceiling. Riders would flash by this, giving them just enough time to realize, "Hey! That was the sun!" The rest of the ride, mainly the helix on the way back, would be dominated by crumbling structures, statues, and column walls the coaster goes in between. At the end of the ride, whilst waiting to return to the station while another train loads. Here, to the right of the train facing the station, standing at what is currently a spectator's area with benches near the exit, a robotic horse in bronze armor could stand, bowing his head as the train would go by. It wouldn't be too difficult (only his head would move up and down, so it's basically a glorified reindeer you put out on your lawn for Christmas), either. None of this would ever happen, but it would be a PArkFan dream come true if it did!
I took the concepts of Netdvn and I made them into ROUGH drawings. Enjoy. :)



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These are great ideas!! Too bad the park took the cheap lazy approach. Now it's never likely to happen. What's really sad is both those rides were during the Busch days too...
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