As frustrating as this answer may be, it’s also the best one: it totally depends on the college.
Some universities take AP exam scores extremely seriously, allow you to substitute them for SAT Subject Tests, and weigh them very heavily in their entire “metrics stew.” Some schools don’t factor them in nearly as much. To be clear – it’s always beautiful to have good AP scores – but how beautiful depends on the colleges to which you’re applying. Check out Harvard’s stance on how they view AP scores here:
Every college has an easily Google-able page containing this information. Take your list of schools, check out each school’s stance, and then act accordingly. In almost all cases, taking and excelling in AP courses will be an enormous boon to your application – but if you don’t have high AP scores, it’s not the end of the world – just make sure you’re not applying to a school that places enormous value upon them.