Would Oblivion have suited Steampunk?

Would Oblivion (Alton Towers' 1998 B&M Dive Machine prototype) have suited a Steampunk theme?

When it comes to some of the most iconic Alton Towers roller coaster additions of our time, Oblivion (The resort’s 1998 Bolliger and Mabillard Dive Machine prototype) is right up there with the likes of Nemesis and The Smiler.

There was a time however when this ground breaking addition was set to sport a rather different and slightly more outlandish theme instead of the dark and much more foreboding one it encapsulates today.

Prior to the current theme being decided upon and the entire area receiving an overhaul to become X-Sector Oblivion was actually set to feature a Steampunk theme instead.

The premise behind the ride would have seen passengers boarding an industrial grade steampunk themed mining drill which would be set to descend into the earth to drill for precious materials within the ground below.

Theming would have seen the inclusion of a giant drill bit attached to the front of all shuttles, a heavy use of bronze and other traditionally industrial colours and an overall outward appearance to that of Black Hole (the other major coaster ion the area at the time.)

Official concept art shared by TowerStreet for the Alton Towers arhcives.
What Happened?

It was later decided however that an entire overhaul of the area would be the better call.

This therefore meant that all plans for the original theme were scrapped in favour of a much more sinister, foreboding theme.

Riders would instead be greeted by the sinister Lord of Light and the infamously daring challenge of not looking down (DON’T LOOK DOWN!) as they were goaded by the lord himself as he instructs  “there is no happy ending to this story, there is only oblivion”!

To this day we still feel intimidated by slow crawl to the precipice!

Oblivion as it appears today as captured by one of our followers - Vicky Ainsworth.
Was this the right move?

So, was this the right move for the park?

Ultimately yes. At the time of the ride’s introduction this type of theme would have definitely fit in with the area as it was, however it wouldn’t have really fit in with the resort’s overall feel long term.

The reason we say this is due to the fact that as a rule Alton Towers is a very darkly themed park overall (aside from CBeebies Land and the World of David Walliams).

The current theme also compliments the likes of Forbidden Valley and the Phallanx perfectly and it helped accommodate the introduction of the Smiler without any significant effort being required.

As unique and stylish as a steampunk theme would have been, it’s definitely a theme which would be better suited to other UK parks such as Blackpool Pleasure Beach or even Paultons Park in our opinion.

That being said that doesn’t still mean that Alton Towers couldn’t introduce this theme with a potential future investments such as SW9 etc. or even a brand new area perhaps below Forbidden Valley?

Taking the plunge!
Summing Up!

Overall, we definitely feel that when it comes to going with the current theme Alton Towers by far made the right choice for their long term, however it would have still been nice to see this intriguing theme come to life none the less.

There has of course been a Steampunk style themed dive machine introduced in industry in the form of Baron 1898 at Efteling in the Netherlands.

Although not directly marketed as a steampunk themed attraction, the overall feel of Baron 1898’s themed definitely seems to draw inspiration from this genre creating somewhat of an glossy industrial nightmare for all who ride.

We still hope to see something of this calibre introduced here in the UK, however for now we are more than happy with the Oblivion we received in the first place.

After all, what’s more fun that being told “Don’t Look Down!” when you can’t help but do anything but!

What are your thoughts on this change of theme? Do you think it was the correct move by the park? Or do you still wish we had seen this come to life as first envisioned?

Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!