Oblivion (Alton Towers)

Roller coaster in the United Kingdom
Watch the on-ride POV
Alton Towers
Location Alton, Staffordshire, England, UK
Coordinates 52°59′12″N 1°53′47″W / 52.986572°N 1.896497°W / 52.986572; -1.896497
Park section X-Sector
Status Operating since 14 March 1998
Cost £12,000,000
Rider height 140 cm minimum
Manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard
Product Dive Coaster
Designer / calculations Ing.-Büro Stengel GmbH, John Wardley
Type Steel - Diving
Riders per train 16
Hourly capacity 1820
Propulsion Chain lift hill
Height 19.8 metres
Drop 55 metres
Top speed 109.4 km/h
Length 372.5 metres
Inversions 0
Drop angle 87.5°
G-Force 4.5

Oblivion is a steel roller coaster located at Alton Towers in Alton, Staffordshire, England, UK. The ride opened on 14 March 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.


Construction and opening

During the 1997 season, Fantasy World (now X-Sector, where Oblivion is situated) was closed off and all the Fantasy themed rides, except for the Black Hole were removed. Surrounding the area were signs announcing a world-first, codenamed SW4. Alton Towers' secrecy and the ever-deepening hole fueled hype and speculation, which had built up over the year. Oblivion finally opened in 14 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

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

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 repainted black, coinciding with the opening of The Smiler. Previously, the roller coaster was painted grey.



Oblivion consists of a single drop at an angle of 87.5 degrees.

Color scheme

Black track and supports, used to be grey track and supports.


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.


  • Although Oblivion was marketed as the first roller coaster with a vertical drop, the steepest angle of the drop is only 87.5 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.
  • In an indoor building in Oblivion's queue line, guests will notice a strange black object. This is the old projector from the park's closed Planetarium.[3]


On 8 May 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.



  1. Ward, David. "Oblivion a thrill too far for Alton Towers". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  2. "Fanta sponsorship partially removed from Oblivion". TowersTimes. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  3. "Tales from the Towers: Hidden Secrets at Alton Towers". Theme Park Tourist. 2013-09-16. Retrieved 2023-08-02.

External links

The category Oblivion (media) contains additional media.
  • 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

Articles on Alton Towers