Specific Type: Steel, Vertical, Out & Back
Don’t… look… down… too bad, you can’t help it… not on this wild ride. We head over to jolly old Britain for this hardcore thrill ride at one hardcore theme park. Alton Towers, home to the famous Bolliger and Malibillard Inverted coaster design called Nemesis, was looking for another smash hit, first ride, except this time, a worlds first and a record breaker, for Secret Weapon 4 (or SW4). Opening with a newly themed section of the park called the X-Sector came the world’s first Dive Machine, or Diving Coaster, calledOblivion. Dubbed by Alton Towers as the first true vertical coaster, it wasn’t, the drop’s angle was 87.5 degrees, still though,Oblivion became one famous ride that was a one trick pony.
Venturing through Alton Towers into the X-Sector area, Oblivion is all around you as it surrounds the majority of the perimeter of X-Sector, with a refreshment stand and the Enterprise ride, Submission. Alton Towers’ Oblivion seems to look… small at first, but like another ride inside the park, Nemesis, size does not matter. You enter the queue line and board the wide two rowed and eight across seats, which turn out to be one of the most expensive and heaviest coaster cars. The back row of the trains are slightly raised, like stadium seating, to max out visuals and to ensure that your looking down. Suddenly, you go up a very steep lift hill until you hit 65 feet… not that big, is it? Again, size does not matter for this ride, suddenly you go around a turn very slowly as a chain along side the car guides the train.
Just when your adrenaline is already rushing, suddenly you hit the top of the drop as a brake grasps the train, holding it there for three seconds, before plummeting into Oblivion. As you look down, one piece of theming includes the rides slogan painted on the sidewalk below, “Don’t Look Down” and also looking at a hole that looks very small from afar. After the brake finally releases, you go down over 18 stories, around 180 feet, down a near vertical drop. When you hit the hole, a mist enshrouds you and makes a loud swooshing noise. After the drop, you rise up from underground into an over banked turn following a small bunny hop for airtime before heading into the brakes. A short ride for sure, but makes out to be one of the biggest thrills around.
Oblivion turned out to be a success and a one trick pony. Meanwhile, the Dive Machine would not catch on as Bolliger and Malibillard would build another one in 2000 for a park in Taiwan known as G5 (or Flying Submarine), that is similar to Oblivion, but with a steeper drop at 89 degrees. More parks were rumored for one throughout 1999, but none were built. A shining light to the concept though occurred on October 27th, 2004 as Busch Gardens Tampa announced SheiKra, a Dive Machine that’s more than a vertical drop, add another vertical drop, an inversion, and a water splash to Oblivion and you have SheiKra. Whatever you do, don’t look down, especially on Oblivion, only at Alton Towers.
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