The year was 1998: Former Fantasy World made room for the new X-Sector at the British top park Alton Towers. With it came a new crowd puller: Tussaud's Group presented the world debut of the Diving Machine by Bolliger & Mabillard. Till today there are just two installations of this ride - G5 at Janfunsun Fancyworld, Taiwan followed two years later.

In 1997 Fantasy World had gotten into years and was removed. Directly afterwards secret weapon number 4 was built in absolute secrecy. Only when the first track segments were installed the last doubts regarding the manufacturer could be cleared up: Alton Towers once again fell back upon the Swiss engineering office Bolliger & Mabillard who already carried out the first realized secret weapon, the inverted coaster Nemesis. The park spared neither trouble nor expense: A gigantic whole was excavated to enable a drop height of 54 meters. After all, rides at Alton Towers mustn't be taller than treetop height.

The layout of the Diving Machine is simple and surely not responsible for the immense adrenaline rush of Oblivion, being just an oval offering an almost vertical dive into a black hole as its most prominent feature. But it is exactly this first drop that is so captivating for many enthusiasts. The plain facts, a tilt of 87.5 degrees and a height of 54 meters, aren't too world-shattering, but the experience on Oblivion can't be reduced to those two figures. It is the staging that gives the ride its special touch: The track leads into nothing and the rider stays in a rather extreme position, looking into a dark, foggy hole for quite a while. After 20 meters the track just seems to run into nothing, literally falling into Oblivion.

Out of station
Wide angle
Drop 1
Drop 2

Four seconds to drop - "Don't look down"

Already on entering the X-Sector this signature ride draws attention every 23 seconds: The cries of the lost echo all over the place, just a noise, and moments later the car reappears from earth's interior. Just watching Oblivion is quite spectacular. The massive track vanishes into the depth almost vertically, directly into darkness. High fences secure the maw.

The visitors who are not scared off by the sole sight of this attraction at first enter the station that resembles the secret hideaways of the James Bond movies. Two cars are loaded at the same time. Each one consists of two protruding rows for eight riders, resulting in a total of 16 passengers per vehicle. The gauge of the typical B&M track profile was widened, but the cars still outshine the track to both sides by far. A heavy chain lifts the vehicle to height of almost 20 meters after the restraints were closed.


Official website of Oblivion

Fansite with lots of background information


Another chain guides through a bend to the left. To the right there is a wonderful view of the Towers, the namegiving castle ruins of the park. But this view can't be really enjoyed. A third chain takes over the car and pulls it slowly towards the drop. Then the vehicle comes to a complete stop as soon as it reaches a tilt of 45 degrees: Silence, nothing moves and time seems to stand still. The passengers are positively forced to look into the black hole that is filled with mist.

The front row enjoys an unrestricted view towards the ground while the riders in the back perceive mainly the horizon. Anxious pairs of eyes look up, expectant of what is going to happen to the experimentees. A subtle view that is emphasized by three striking words: A stroke on the ground, just above the hole, states "Don´t look down", and it is also softly whispered into the riders' ears. A request none of the passengers really wants to comply with. For a period of four seconds the car remains in that position. Four seconds that seem like an eternity. Then there is a jolt slightly shaking the vehicle and you fall...


Cries seem to come from all directions, and especially in the second row there are lots of airtime. The backbenchers are literally ejected out of their seats, glad about the over-the-shoulder restraints that keep them safely inside the car. A start that surely compensates for the lack of view just an instant before - the front row is clearly less blessed with airtime.

You fall, looking towards the ground. The weight of the heavy car pulls you into the depth. You are whirling through the fog, the car disappears and the passengers perceive only one color: Black. You dive into the depth, positively absorbed by it. Then the car leaves the extreme, almost vertical segment and turns into a horizontal position. Forces of 4.5 G press the riders into their seats, and only an instant later the ascend begins. Fast as an arrow, reaching a speed of up to 110 kilometers per hour, you head towards the dazzling daylight. The car tilts into a steep turn and is safely caught by the final brakes.

. to Oblivion and back on earth

Oblivion is a short but intense experience. And for the owner Tussaud's it was surely pretty costly. Twelve million pounds have been invested, a sum of 17 million Euros. This is a pretty high amount for a free fall tower on wheels that can mainly score with its cool iron staging. But nobody wants to do without that ride. As with all B&M coasters, the comfort is excellent. The view is magnificent and the ride was skillfully integrated into the X-Sector. There is nothing more to say except: Don´t look down...

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