“DON’T LOOK DOWN!”
…Are three of the words that will plague your mind whilst riding Oblivion. For a rollercoaster that does only one thing, Oblivion does this astonishingly well; which is fuel our bodies with extreme fear and convert this into pure raw adrenaline! And despite it’s short but sweet length, this is an unparalleled achievement, as up until 1998 Theme Parks had been at a constant battle to bring forward such terrifying experiences. What exactly makes Oblivion so special? Well I’m going to tell you just that!
The mystery behind the construction of Oblivion came around in 1997, in which ‘Fantasy World’ (now known as X-Sector) became closed off and various rides were removed to make way for the construction of the attraction we see today, Oblivion (codenamed Secret Weapon 4). Due to the lack of internet sources back then, it was very difficult to find out any information about what was going on in Fantasy World. Enthusiasts all around began to raise eyebrows when the construction of a colossal 115 feet deep tunnel commenced towards the end of 1997. Thanks to the tree height ceiling restriction enforced at Alton Towers; Oblivion homes one of the deepest tunnels built on any Rollercoaster in the world.
What really makes Oblivion so special, especially back in ’98 was the sheer steepness of the drop. Oblivion is dubbed ‘the worlds first Vertical Drop Coaster’ and boasts an absolutely massive 180 feet descent at an extreme 87 degrees (it’s not technically vertical, but due to B&M being unable to supply the trains with appropriate gear for a 90 degree drop, it’ll pass!). It comes as no exception that Alton Towers, Bolliger & Mabillard and imagineer Sir John Wardley had yet again input another innovative design for the world of rollercoasters; leading onto other iconic projects such as Busch Gardens’ Sheikra and Griffon.
Approaching Oblivion in the flesh can be intimidating. B&M’s Dive Machine track is enourmous in size and having the opportunity to stand within almost touching distance of it, is actually quite a sight. Oblivions theme has a very minimalistic yet industrial sci-fi touch to it, but it’s within the concept that brings Oblivion to life. Scattered throughout the cold grey queueline are TV’s which loop a very important video in relation to the concept. On these videos we are introduced to a character known as the ‘Lord of Darkness’, in which he then prompts us with Scientific and Psychological facts of Oblivion; this can be pretty scary since he says we could possibly die during the experience. A personal favourite quote of mine from this is: “For some things, there is no rational explanation. There is no way out. There is no happy ending to the story. Welcome to the unknown; welcome to eternal darkness; welcome…to Oblivion.” The music played throughout Oblivions station has a very intense drum and bass tempo, I personally really enjoy the music here as it mirrors the anxieties you experience before you ride.
Oblivions layout is extremely short and simplistic, but I wouldn’t really class this as a flaw seeing as the whole coaster is designed around the vertical drop (I think of it like a drop tower, brief but extreme). Usually gimmicks on coasters become a turnoff for me, but I can’t get enough of the buzz Oblivion delivers every single time I ride. The fear I get from Oblivion doesn’t seem to fade either; the slow ascent up the unnervingly steep lift hill, crawling around the turn towards the drop and then that moment of breathlessness as you’re held 65 feet high about to plummet vertically down the 180 feet drop. Yeah, that part! The drop is sensational, I count around 3-4 seconds of bliss floaty airtime, and then smoothly pulling back up hitting up to intense forces of 4.5Gs, and blistering speeds of 68mph before gliding elegantly around the over-bank and onto the brake run. It’s a satisfying finish, however still leaving you wanting more. Like a drug, you’re soon back craving the fear and buzz over and over again, Oblivion is easily one of the most re-ridable attractions at Alton Towers.
Oblivion is one of the most iconic Rollercoasters in UK, and it really is no surprise. The thrill of diving vertically into 115 feet of pure darkness is still unrivalled to this day, and is an experience that will never get old. The length is completely abolished due to its fantastic re-ridability, and thanks to the throughput clocking 1900 riders an hour the queue for Oblivion rarely feels a drag. If you haven’t already experienced Oblivion, get yourselves down to Alton Towers and do yourself a favour! DON’T LOOK DOWN!