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Oblivion

Oblivion (1998)

Oblivion is a steel roller coaster located at Alton Towers in England. The ride opened as the world's first dive coaster on 14 March 1998, amidst a large publicity campaign. It was the second in a long line of 'Secret Weapon (SW4)' rollercoasters to have opened at Alton Towers. The ride has a height restriction of 55 inches (140 cm). With a maximum sentence speed of 68 mph, it is the third fastest roller coaster in the UK, behind Stealth at Thorpe Park and the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

HistoryEdit

ConstructionEdit

During 1997, Fantasy World (the area of Alton Towers in which Oblivion was eventually situated) was closed off and all the old fantasy-themed rides were removed except the Black Hole. Details about Oblivion were not revealed until March 1998.

The "SW4" codename stood for "Secret Weapon 4". SW3 was Nemesis, and SW 1 and 2 were unbuilt roller coasters originally intended for the Nemesis site.

Oblivion's opening was accompanied by a massive publicity drive, including appearances on Blue Peter, The Gadget Show, news channels and cereal boxes. In 1997, before Oblivion opened, some marketing memorabilia was released, including its own brand of deodorant.

OpeningEdit

When Oblivion did open, the area was re-themed to look like a sinister government facility, unlike Fantasy World's fairground theme, and renamed X-Sector. The only surviving ride from Fantasy World, the Black Hole roller coaster, was also changed; the large tent that it was situated in was repainted to blue and silver instead of green and yellow stripes. To make the new X-Sector a major ride area, Alton Towers added two old rides from other parts of the park: Energizer and Enterprise (both from Festival Park, now Dark Forest). Both rides were repainted to fit to the new theme.

SponsorshipEdit

On 21 April 2011 the area around Oblivion was given a slight revamp to incorporate promotion for Fanta, the ride's new sponsor. The sponsorship included posters saying '15,000 ft drop, bring it on', despite the fact that the drop is actually 180 ft (60m). However, these were later removed after complaints from riders.

2012 incidentEdit

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 nor any 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 following day.

2013Edit

With the new roller coaster The Smiler opening in 2013, Oblivion is no longer the only coaster in X Sector, as it had been since Black Hole's closure in 2005. In late January/early February 2013, Alton Towers began a process of repainting Oblivion's fading grey track, which had become very worn since opening in 1998.

The repaint took over 6 weeks to complete, with some cosmetic upgrades also being made to the station building and queue line structures. The coaster is now the same dark grey colour as its neighbour The Smiler.

In June, Oblivion suffered downtime owing to a gearbox component failing. The ride remained closed for a few weeks while a replacement part was manufactured. The ride re-opened on 25 June.