Nemesis, Alton Towers had a long, long way to go to even equal what was
one of the most well received coasters the world had ever seen. The
problem was, Nemesis was a surprise, and nobody was expecting it.
Following that though, the park had almost a cult following of
enthusiasts, and they were watching every move the park were making.
first digger arrived, and began to dig what started off as a shallow
trench behind the Black Hole. As the season advanced though, the trench
got deeper, and deeper, and upon reaching 90ft below the ground level,
people really started getting excited.
a twist of irony, the park seemed to prove everybody wrong. Whilst
carefully cropped pictures of the cars were appearing, strange and
unrevealing pictures of the track were published, people were
speculating about spinning cars, linear induction motors and launches.
the ride was finally disclosed in early March though, it surprised
everyone: Not by the awe-inspiring grandeur of it, but more by the mere
simplicity of it. Whilst what the ride does had never been attempted
before, many people were shocked that their theories of corkscrewing
drops and underground loops were nothing but wishful thinking, and that
the finished product was basically a face first freefall.
seems that to a certain extent, the cagey marketing behind Oblivion
backfired. It did well to build excitement and anticipation, but perhaps
to the extent that people were expecting far too much. If people look at
the ride though, and not the hype that went with it, theyíll see a
novel concept that Alton Towers had the guts to take on.
Towers got a lot of things wrong with the marketing of the ride. By
keeping mum until the last minute, they did surprise many, but probably
shot themselves in the foot, as many more were left disappointed. Itís
the first step in vertical drop coasters, itís a prototype, a ride
that they said they would never get, so it obviously represents a pretty
reflection though, the ride was marketed for the average visitor to the
park, not the coaster enthusiast, and with that in mind, it probably
worked a treat to have the area cordoned off with rather non-descript
signs and hints near-by.
that the ride has opened, and settled in, now that the technical
difficulties have been ironed out, it seems Alton Towers have a winner
on their hands. It is still one of the parks largest rides, and will
remain so for several more years yet, and it's still pulling in the
comes as part of a new look for the parks ageing Fantasy World. As a
result, the name was changed to the rather lame X Sector. Rides were
hastily drafted in from Festival Park (now the equally poorly named Ug
Land), given a new paint job, and the outside of the tatty tent that
houses the Black Hole was painted a dark shade of blue.
you enter, try to ignore the Black Hole, it kills the effect, and
instead, home in on Oblivion's first drop. Thereíll probably be a car
perched on the edge of the drop, and after a few seconds, it will curl
over the top, plunging down towards the ground, disappearing in a puff
of smoke, literally.
a right past this steaming orifice, and youíre in the centre of the
ride. In front, the station, then, turning anti- clockwise, you can
follow the lift hill, into the turn around, that feeds the cars onto the
vertical drop. Turning further, after a short absence, the track
re-appears flipping cars onto their side, making a sweeping turn behind
the Enterprise and jumping onto the brake run behind Submission.
you can see what the areaís all about. Itís nothing. Itís a small
collection of rides, painted black. It's quite atmospheric, but required
no thought at all on the part of the park, just lots of black paint.
Apparently itís themed with a sense of the unknown. It might tickle
your fancy, but it doesnít do much for me.
as you ogle at Oblivion, you can lick your lips, rub your hands, but
donít stand around waiting, either get your ticket to ride, or get
straight into the queue. The queue splits into two immediately, and
spirals its way up a hill, passing through and under the station.
Brainwashing videos try to mess with your mind, with a panicky person
fretting over why its called Oblivion. He's soon re-assured by a
slightly calmer person, and so it continues. First time, its passable,
then on it gets on your nerves.
queue continues. It gets to a sputnik from where you cross a bridge into
the station. The queue is split further so that four rows wait per
shuttle, with two being let on at a time. The station is huge, the space
isnít used too well though, and it seems quite claustrophobic.
half decent dance track quietly plays, and monitors above play more
hype. Once your shuttle arrives, the gates open, and you start the long
walk across the length of the car. Bear in mind, each car is little
under half as wide as a Top Spin, and once you find your seat, sit down,
pull down the chunky (yet typically comfortable) restraint, and clip in
the seat belt.
youíre squashed into your seats by the seemingly efficient staff, the
shuttle departs. Although the seats are reclined, this really canít be
appreciated until you start the lift. Why it's so steep is unknown, what
is known though, is that it feels vertical, and itís a mighty strange
lift is quite unpleasant at the far sides of the car, the vibrations
seem to be amplified here, but you will reap the benefits of sitting on
the edge soon. The lift is of a normal speed, and at the top, the pace
slows, as you turn around, past the Towers.
view is great, and you have plenty of time to admire, as at this point,
the car is veritably crawling. Itís a simple trick, and it works. I
must admit, it was at this point that my heart was doing twice as much
work than it needed to.
the track disappears, before in no time, you tip forward, your whole
weight falling squarely on the restraint, and as the track re-appears,
you stop, looking down at the ground, at the people below, and, at the
track fading out into a sea of mist.
then, you drop.
roar of the train, of the people screaming, the feeling as you float
down in a stomach quenching moment is surreal. It takes no time, yet you
have time to absorb many thoughts, and in a flash of white, you burst
through the mist and into the dark tunnel.
of a sudden, you seem very enclosed, everything seems very quiet, and as
you begin to slump in your chair, you are heading skywards, before in a
near blinding moment, you pop out into daylight, are thrown onto your
side, as you make an elegant turn behind the two spin rides, dipping
past the cameras, before you climb up and hit the brake run.
the brake run, youíll do the usual euphoric things, youíll
rhapsodise over the ride, over the drop, over one of the biggest rushes
youíll have experienced on a coaster for, aw, ever. The tunnel and the
turn are only there to get you back to the station. The drop is the only
element left, so yes, itís a one trick ride, itís a good trick
though, and as it stands, probably one of the best elements you can ask
for on a coaster.
to me, is like a Skycoaster from the comfort of a coaster train. It has
the build up, this time in the form of a lift hill, an agonisingly slow
turnaround, and the moments of torture on the edge. The rush is over in
a second, and then there is the calm after the storm, in which you have
time to reflect, and little else.
works for me, and it works for many. I have seen some people really
freak out just before we drop. In the end though, they love it, and will
probably beat me back to the queue.
itís a great trick it uses for its one trick, the novelty will soon
wear off. The drop comes as a huge surprise if you havenít ridden it
before, after even a few goes, it still fails to un-impress. After a
while though, youíll know what to expect, you will learn when youíre
going to drop, and you will probably become blasť.
is a moral to this story. Donít expect too much, it wonít deliver
it. Itís a six second ride, nothing more. Donít queue for more than
fifteen minutes for it. Itís not worth it for a ride that short,
however good it may promise to be. Go on with an open frame of mind and
it will blow you away.
If you don't like it,
the ride only lasts a few seconds
Freefall presented in
a new and original context
Great feeling of
▪ The tunnel and mist is
a great effect - when it works
▪ An easy coaster to
▪ Worn looking theming
▪ Only a short ride
▪ Less of a feeling of
isolation compared to standard freefalls
▪ No real sensation of
height when compared to real freefalls
▪ Cost the same as a
standard coaster, little more than a freefall