The gateway to the state of being forgotten, this rollercoaster towers over the surrounding area of X Sector in the most intimidating way possible. The incredibly slow and steep climb to the top creates tension like no other, then one sheer vertical drop later and you will be at the mercy of Oblivion, the world’s first vertical drop rollercoaster. But keep in mind the advice from all around you… “Don’t. Look. Down!”.
Min. Rider Height: 1.4m
Max. Rider Height: None
Ride Photography: Yes
Ride Type: Dive Coaster
Opened: 14th March 1998
Cost: £12 million
Track Length: 373m
Max. Track Height: 60m
Max. Speed: Approx 110km/h
Mass of Empty Car: 5,000kg
Passengers per Car: 16
Capacity: 1700 riders per hour
Duration: 1 min 15 secs
Oblivion can be found located at the bottom end of X Sector, meaning any guest who wishes to take the plunge will have to walk past the huge vertical drop at some point on their journey to the queue entrance.
The experience begins as the queue line slowly winds upwards in a repetitive pattern towards to the station. Along the way, guests encounter the Lord Of Darkness on a series of television screens, someone who clearly doesn’t wish to put any uneasy guest’s minds to rest. On occasion, he will be able to recite to you the exact symptoms which some guests will be experiencing during the nerve racking wait for the experience ahead!
To further aid any concerns regarding the ride, the Lord Of Darkness’ counterpart, the Lord of Light will question just how safe the ride is, informing you that ride cars haven’t been seen returning after plunging into the gigantic hole into the ground.
Upon arrival into the station, guests will be batched into two rows by a member of staff. After all loose articles are stored in the baggage shelves across the platform, riders take their seats before pulling down on the over head restraints. Once you have been safely secured, the Lord of Darkness will offer some final ‘comforting’ words to you, explaining just exactly what Oblivion is.
As the ride shuttle departs the station, riders are presented with their first proper look at what lies ahead. When the ascension of the incredibly steep lift hill begins, riders will be tilted onto their backs into a near vertical position with nothing straight ahead but the track and the clouds above. After completing the excruciatingly slow climb, riders will very slow turn to the left whilst being presented with views of the nearby ruins and a rather terrifying high angle of X Sector below.
The shuttle will crawl ever so slowly towards the precipice of the drop before leaving riders hanging. Several small seconds turn into an eternity whilst the eerie facial logo of The Smiler stares up at you.
Suddenly, the world around you becomes a blur. The catch holding the shuttle releases and riders begin to plummet towards the earth, blasting past the first on ride photo camera and reaching an incredible speed of 68mph. But the experience doesn’t stop once you reach the ground. Riders continue down into the enormous hole in the ground, suddenly plunged into darkness whilst being greeted with a soft spray of mist.
As the track begins to level out, riders are presented with a light at the end of the tunnel. The shuttle will proceed to carry you out through this exit before throwing you into an overbanked left turn, standing high above the nearby Enterprise. After a final dip towards the ground where a second on ride photo camera awaits you, the ride will throw you back up skywards and onto the brake run, slowing you down for your return to the station.
In 1997, construction began on one of the most secretive rollercoasters ever built. The entire area [Fantasy World as it was known at the time] saw a changed atmosphere as every ride but the Black Hole was relocated elsewhere on the park, and a huge construction site was formed. The only glimpse at what was to come was several banners located around the site, stating “WORLD FIRST RIDE OPENS MARCH 1998”.
As the season of 1997 went by, each visit to the park saw the continuous excavation of a substantial hole which never seemed to end. The construction site was patrolled by mysterious operatives in a red uniform with a hard hat, informing guests to clear the area in an attempt to contain the secrets of what was happening behind the fences. Contrary to the polite and helpful nature of the rest of the staff on the theme park, these operatives showed no emotion and contributed thoroughly to the build up of the next big rollercoaster coming to the park.
Eventually, huge bulky track from rollercoaster manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard arrived on site, whipping up a speculation thunder storm as to what was so secret about this brand new rollercoaster.
With the arrival of the festive season in 1997, the resort began to publish Christmas cards giving a very subtle hint as to what made Oblivion so unique, by showing Father Christmas being pulled into a vertical dive in his sleigh by reindeers.
With the arrival of the 1998 season, the ride was subjected to extensive media coverage, featuring on the Gadget Show and Blue Peter. The ride was also advertised on packets of Cornflakes in the run up to the opening. Come opening day March 1998, guests who ran straight to the ride were presented with a very brand new area. Out with Fantasy World and in with the mysterious and sinister government facility known as X Sector, to which Oblivion loomed over.
In 2011, Oblivion received a sponsorship from soft drink firm, Fanta. This saw a total clash in the theming of the ride as the surrounding structures were plastered with obtrusive posters and artwork. Messages such as “More Fanta, Less Serious” and the very contradicting “Looking Down Is The Fun Part” were stuck on the ride’s entrance arch, inside the station and on the structure surrounding the hole. The reaction to this from the enthusiast community and general public was immense, which saw the TowersTimes Forum become part of a movement which eventually saw the removal of the majority of the sponsorship theming.
Alongside the opening of The Smiler in 2013, Oblivion was subjected to a cosmetic revamp. The entire track layout and supports were given a fresh coat of paint, whilst all the ride shuttles were presented with fresh restraints and the ride’s logo painted on to the front of each one. The station also received some brand new panel work to replace the previous rotting material that surrounded the building.
Behind the Scenes
Seeing as the Lord of Darkness never warned against looking behind the scenes, TowersTimes discovered some of the mechanics that made the world’s first vertical drop rollercoaster possible.