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Oblivion (roller coaster)

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Oblivion's vertical drop
Alton Towers
Park sectionX-Sector
Coordinates52°59′12″N 1°53′47″W / 52.986575°N 1.896498°W / 52.986575; -1.896498Coordinates: 52°59′12″N 1°53′47″W / 52.986575°N 1.896498°W / 52.986575; -1.896498
Opening date14 March 1998 (1998-03-14)
Cost£12 million
General statistics
TypeSteel – Dive Coaster
ManufacturerBolliger & Mabillard
DesignerWerner Stengel
ModelDive Coaster
Lift/launch systemChain lift hill
Height65 ft (20 m)
Drop180 ft (55 m)
Length373 m (1,224 ft)
Speed68 mph (109 km/h)
Max vertical angle87°
Capacity1,900 riders per hour
Height restriction140 cm (4 ft 7 in)
Trains7 trains with 2 cars. Riders are arranged 8 across in a single row for a total of 16 riders per train.
WebsiteOfficial website
Fastrack available
Oblivion at RCDB
Pictures of Oblivion at RCDB

Oblivion is a steel roller coaster located at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, England. The Dive Coaster model from Bolliger & Mabillard opened to the public on 14 March 1998. Although marketed as "the world's first vertical drop roller coaster", Oblivion's first drop is slightly less than 90 degrees. With a maximum speed of 68 mph (109 km/h), it is the third fastest roller coaster in the UK, behind Stealth at Thorpe Park and the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.[1][2]


Throughout 1997, the park's 'Fantasy World' area was closed and all its former rides removed, except the Black Hole.[3] Details about Oblivion were not revealed until March 1998.[4] The "SW4" codename stood for "Secret Weapon 4", after Nemesis' codename, "SW3".[3]

Oblivion's opening was accompanied by a large promotional campaign, including appearances on Blue Peter, news channels and cereal boxes.[5] Prior to its opening, memorabilia including its own brand of deodorant was available to purchase.[5] The total cost to construct the ride was estimated at £12 million.[6]

The park area containing Oblivion was redesigned as 'X Sector'.[5] The only surviving ride from the former area was the Black Hole roller coaster, which was externally redesigned to suit the new theme.[7] Alton Towers moved two existing rides from other areas of the park to open with X-Sector, Energizer and Enterprise.[8] Both rides were repainted to fit to the new theme.[9]

For a brief period in April 2011, the ride was sponsored by Fanta. However, much of the Fanta branding was removed after only a few months "following numerous complaints about the obtrusive nature of the brand".[10]

On 8 May 2012, a reportedly suicidal 20-year-old man climbed over tall safety fencing and managed to access the underground ride area.[11] He reportedly entered via the tunnel exit portal and walked underground, emerging on a ledge around the entrance portal.[11] Neither he nor any guests on the ride were harmed.[12] He was arrested for a public order offence and the ride returned to normal operation the following day.[11]

Ride experience[edit]

The queue line spirals upwards around a mound and passes through abstract buildings at various levels. Through the buildings, an unnamed man stood in darkness (played by actor Renny Krupinski) briefs riders from overhead television screens. In the heavily stylised videos, the sinister figure explains at length the supposed physical and psychological effects of riding on Oblivion. Although adapted from scientific fact, his monologues are deliberately exaggerated with hyperbole and dry humour. The third queueline video features an alter-ego character (who appears glowing white) arguing with his counterpart as to whether Oblivion is truly safe for riders.

The queue then splits and crosses caged bridges into the station building. Here riders are batched into rows and board the ride cars. Technical graphics are displayed on overhead screens, which change to play a final monologue upon dispatch.

A picture of Oblivion's drop taken from the guest observation area.

The cars accommodate sixteen passengers in two rows of eight with a tiered seating arrangement. The roller coaster has a simple layout with a 180 ft drop at 87 degrees.[13][14] The car slowly ascends 60 feet at a 45 degree angle to build tension, then levels out and travels a turn towards the drop. The turn uses a horizontal chain mechanism not used on any other B&M dive coaster.

The car reaches the drop and pauses facing over the edge (held by a holding chain) for a maximum of five seconds, while a vocal sound effect is played over speakers whispering, "Don't look down". The car is then released and free-falls into the tunnel. Upon exiting the other side, a high-banked turn takes rides around into the brake run.[15][16]

In 2004, the "Don't look down" vocal was removed due to new sound restrictions on the park.[17] In 2015, following a major crash on The Smiler, the third queueline video with the two characters debating the ride's safety was removed.[15]


  1. ^ "Top 10: Britain's fastest roller coasters". The Daily Telegraph. London. 14 July 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  2. ^ Middleton, Lucy. "Britain's Best Rollercoasters". Britevents. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b "The Secret Weapons – Developing the Magic". TowersTimes. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Oblivion". TowersTimes. 14 March 1998. Archived from the original on 5 November 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Oblivion at Alton Towers Review". T-Park. Archived from the original on 15 October 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  6. ^ "Specifications". TowersTimes. Archived from the original on 11 March 2008. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  7. ^ "Oblivion Construction Archive". TowersTimes. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  8. ^ "X Sector". TowersTimes. Archived from the original on 6 August 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  9. ^ "Oblivion". ThrillRide!. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  10. ^ "Oblivion". TowersStreet. 14 March 1998. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  11. ^ a b c "Stray guest causes safety incident on Oblivion". Ride Rater. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Man rescued from Oblivion ride at Alton Towers". BBC News. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  13. ^ "Oblivion – Alton Towers". Rollercoaster Database. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Oblivion". Ultimate Rollercoaster. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  15. ^ a b "ThrillRide!". ThrillRide!. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  16. ^ "In to Oblivion". Coasters and more. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  17. ^ "Oblivion". TowersAlmanac. Retrieved 23 September 2013.

External links[edit]