Jump to content

Oblivion (roller coaster)

Coordinates: 52°59′12″N 1°53′47″W / 52.986575°N 1.896498°W / 52.986575; -1.896498
This is a good article. Click here for more information.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oblivion's near vertical drop
Alton Towers
LocationAlton Towers
Park sectionX-Sector
Coordinates52°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
Height19.8 m (65 ft)
Drop54.9 m (180 ft)
Length372.5 m (1,222 ft)
Speed109.4 km/h (68.0 mph)
Max vertical angle87.5°
Capacity1,700 riders per hour
Height restriction140 cm (4 ft 7 in)
Trains7 trains with a single car. Riders are arranged 8 across in 2 rows for a total of 16 riders per train.
WebsiteOfficial website
Slogan"Don't Look Down"
Fastrack available
Oblivion at RCDB

Oblivion is a steel roller coaster located at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, England. The prototype Dive Coaster model from Bolliger & Mabillard opened to the public on 14 March 1998 and was marketed as the "world's first vertical drop roller coaster". With a maximum speed of 68 mph (109.4 km/h), it is the fourth fastest roller coaster in the UK, behind The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Stealth at Thorpe Park, and Hyperia at Thorpe Park.


In Theme Park Review's YouTube video of the IAAPA 2011 trade show, Walter Bolliger stated that development of the Dive Coaster model began between 1994 and 1995.[1] Throughout 1997, the Alton Towers park's 'Fantasy World' area was closed and all its former rides removed, except the Black Hole. The closure led to it being used for secretly constructing a new attraction known as "SW4" (a codename that stood for "Secret Weapon 4", after Nemesis Reborn (formerly Nemesis)' codename, "SW3"). The attraction's construction site was surrounded by a patrol guard who kept it hidden, and the park initially did not reveal much information about it to the general public.[2] A fence was inserted into the area along with the sign announcing that a "world first ride opens [in] March 1998". Many people did not know of the then-upcoming ride other than that its building stage involved making a hole that gradually increased in size. When new parts of track appeared on the site, some grew suspicious about the project. Details about SW4 were not revealed until March 1998, including its name Oblivion and its status as the "worlds first vertical drop roller coaster".[3] Oblivion was given a secret military theme, which was previously used for the park's earlier SW1 and SW2 coaster projects.[2]

Oblivion's opening was accompanied by a large promotional campaign, including appearances on Blue Peter, news channels and Corn Flakes cereal box packets.[2][3] Prior to its opening, memorabilia including its own brand of deodorant was available to purchase.[2] The total cost to construct the ride was estimated at £12 million.[4]

The park area containing Oblivion was redesigned as 'X Sector'.[2] The only surviving ride from the former area was the Black Hole roller coaster, which was externally redesigned to suit the new theme.[5] Alton Towers moved and rethemed two existing rides from other areas of the park to open with X-Sector, Energizer and Enterprise.[6] [7]

Despite advertising the ride as the "worlds first vertical drop rollercoaster", Oblivion's vertical drop is slightly less than 90 degrees, at 87.5 degrees. This is due to the trains lacking sprung wheel assemblies which would mean the transition from vertical to horizontal would be uncomfortable.[8]

For a brief period in April 2011, the ride was sponsored by Fanta. The Fanta company also had put the Oblivion rollercoaster into one of their adverts to show that the brand was being sponsored there. However, much of the Fanta branding was removed after only a few months "following numerous complaints about the obtrusive nature of the brand".[9]

On 8 May 2012, a reportedly suicidal 20-year-old man climbed over tall safety fencing and managed to access the underground ride area.[10] He reportedly entered via the tunnel exit portal and walked underground, emerging on a ledge around the entrance portal.[10] Neither he nor any guests on the ride were harmed.[11] He was arrested for a public order offence and the ride returned to normal operation the following day.[10]

Ride experience[edit]

The queue line spirals upward counterclockwise 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. This was removed in 2015 after The Smiler crash.

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 87.5 degrees and reaches 68 mph.[12][13] The car slowly ascends 60 feet at a 45-degree angle to build tension, then levels out and travels slowly through 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 for a moment. The car is then released, free-falling into the underground tunnel. Upon exiting the other side, a high-banked turn takes riders around into the brake run.[7][14] There are two on-ride photos; one at the start of the drop and the other at the end of the high-banked turn.

The theme music which accompanies the ride is "Stressed Out" by Dominic Glynn from the album "Strictly Drum & Bass".


Oblivion is classified as the first Dive Coaster, a model from Bolliger & Mabillard with a vertical angle of around 87.5 degrees.[12][13] The second Dive Coaster, Diving Machine G5, opened at Janfusun Fancyworld in 2000 with an 87.5 degree angle, a 179 ft drop, and a g-force of 5.0; it also featured a mirror of the layout of Oblivion.[15] Five years later, SheiKra opened at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay as the first Dive Coaster with a 90 degree vertical drop and a splashdown element.[16][17] In 2015, a ride named Oblivion: The Black Hole opened at Gardaland, becoming the first vertical drop roller coaster in Italy.[18]


  1. ^ "IAAPA 2011 Trade Show Part 4 Theme Park Review Fishpipe Water Ride B&M Zamperla". Theme Park Review. YouTube. 16 November 2012. Archived from the original on 19 December 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Secret Weapons – Developing the Magic". TowersTimes. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Oblivion". TowersTimes. 14 March 1998. Archived from the original on 5 November 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Specifications". TowersTimes. Archived from the original on 11 March 2008. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  5. ^ "Oblivion Construction Archive". TowersTimes. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  6. ^ "X Sector". TowersTimes. Archived from the original on 6 August 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Oblivion". ThrillRide!. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  8. ^ The Guinness book of records 1999. Guinness. 1998. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-85112-070-6.
  9. ^ "Oblivion". TowersStreet. 14 March 1998. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  10. ^ a b c "Stray guest causes safety incident on Oblivion". Ride Rater. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  11. ^ "Man rescued from Oblivion ride at Alton Towers". BBC News. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Oblivion – Alton Towers". Rollercoaster Database. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  13. ^ a b "Oblivion". Ultimate Rollercoaster. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  14. ^ "In to Oblivion". Coasters and more. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  15. ^ Marden, Duane. "Diving Machine G5  (Janfusun Fancyworld)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  16. ^ Marden, Duane. "SheiKra  (Busch Gardens Tampa Bay)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  17. ^ Marden, Duane. "Splashdown Bolliger & Mabillard". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 2 June 2023.
  18. ^ "Oblivion - The Black Hole: ecco cosa si prova a cadere in picchiata verticale". Vanity Fair (in Italian). 31 March 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2023.

External links[edit]