Oblivion (Alton Towers)

Click here to watch the on-ride POV
roller coaster
Alton Towers
Location Alton, Staffordshire, England, UK
Park section X-Sector
Status Operating since March 14, 1998
Cost £12,000,000
Height restriction 140 cm (54 inches)
Manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard
Designer / calculations Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH, John Wardley
Type Steel - Diving
Model / product Dive Coaster
Riders per train 16
Hourly capacity 1820
Propulsion Chain lift hill
Drop60 metres
Top speed110 km/h
Length373 metres
Steepest drop87°
Oblivion Logo.png

Oblivion is a steel roller coaster located at Alton Towers in Alton, Staffordshire, England, UK. The ride opened on March 14, 1998 amid a large publicity campaign as the first full-circuit roller coaster with a vertical drop. It is the tallest and fastest roller coaster at Alton Towers and is located in the X-Sector area of the park.

Oblivion was built by Bolliger & Mabillard and is their first Dive Coaster installation. An almost identical coaster, Diving Machine G5 opened in Taiwan in 2000.

History[edit | edit source]

Construction and opening[edit | edit source]

During 1997, Fantasy World (now X-Sector, where Oblivion is situated) was closed off and all the Fantasy themed rides, except the Black Hole were removed. Surrounding the area were signs announcing a world-first, codenamed SW4. Alton Towers' secrecy and the ever-deepening hole fuelled hype and speculation, which had built up over the year. Oblivion was finally unveiled in March 1998. To build the tunnel, a deep trench was excavated and drained. After the tunnel was built, it was covered over. The prototype coaster featured a short height and a larger drop.

The codename SW4 stands for Secret Weapon 4. Nemesis was SW3, and SW1 and 2 were cancelled projects to be built on the plot where Nemesis is located now.

Oblivion's opening was accompanied by a massive publicity drive. This included appearances on The Gadget Show, Blue Peter, news channels and cereal boxes. Marketing memorabilia was also released just before Oblivion opened, including its own brand of deodorant (which was re-introduced for the 2011 season).

With the opening of Oblivion, the surrounding area was completely overhauled and its fairground theme replaced with that of a sinister government facility. The name was changed from Fantasy World to X-Sector. The last remaining ride from Fantasy World, Black Hole, had its tent reprinted dark-blue and silver, replacing the original yellow and green striped pattern. Energizer and Enterprise flat rides were moved to the X-Sector from other areas of the park to make it a major ride area.

Noise issues[edit | edit source]

In August 2004, Suzanne and Stephen Roper won a case against the park regarding high levels of noise. Oblivion was at the centre of this case, as the judge could hear screams from riders while standing in the Roper's garden. He suggested that the "don't look down" message, played to riders as they were held above the drop, induced screaming.[1] Alton Towers subsequently stopped playing the sound clip, though "Don't Look Down" remains painted on the ground in front of the drop.

Design changes[edit | edit source]

For the 2011 season, Fanta branding was added to Oblivion. This took the form of decals added to the entrance, air gates, and in other places near the roller coaster. Much of this was subsequently removed by August.[2] For the 2013 season, Oblivion was painted black, coinciding with the opening of The Smiler. Previously the roller coaster was painted grey.

Design[edit | edit source]


Oblivion consists of a single drop at an angle of 87 degrees.

Trains[edit | edit source]

7 cars. Riders are arranged 8 across in 2 rows for a total of 16 riders per car. This ride has special Dive Machine trains, which can seat 8 people in a row. There are four trains, with two rows, making each train have a capacity of 16 riders per train.

To increase tension and add excitement, the car is held at the top of the drop for a few seconds, giving riders a view of the tunnel below.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Although Oblivion was marketed as the first roller coaster with a vertical drop, the steepest angle of the drop is only 87 degrees. This is to allow easier maintenance, and to keep a smooth ride. If it was to have a 90 degree drop, the car would jolt when it enters the tunnel, as there are no springs on the wheels.Citation needed
  • Oblivion is the shortest roller coaster built by Bolliger & Mabillard and the first with no inversions.
  • The tunnel on Oblivion is the deepest tunnel on a roller coaster

Incident[edit | edit source]

On May 8, 2012, a 20-year-old man climbed over safety fences and accessed the underground ride area. He reportedly dropped into the hole from which the roller coaster track re-emerges from the underground tunnel, walked through the underground section and emerged on a ledge where the track enters the ground. Neither he or guests on the ride were harmed following the ride cars being held at the boarding station. He was arrested for a public order offence, and the ride returned to normal operation the day after.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

  • RCDB text.png
    Oblivion on the Roller Coaster DataBase.
Steepest roller coaster
March 1998 - March 2000
Preceded by
Steepest roller coaster
March 1998 - March 2000
Succeeded by
Diving Machine G5