Fall through a black hole, straight into oblivion...
|Opened||28 March 2015|
|Manufacturer||Bolliger & Mabillard|
|Max Speed||62 mph|
Merlin Entertainments has a reputation for re-using themes and turning successful rides into "brands". It was perhaps only a little surprising then that they chose Oblivion: The Black Hole as the name for their B&M Dive Coaster at Gardaland.
The ride takes its moniker from two iconic rollercoasters from sister park Alton Towers in the UK: Oblivion, the world's first B&M Dive Coaster, and Black Hole, an indoor rollercoaster which once sat in a huge tent next to it. Aside from the name, Oblivion: The Black Hole also shares much of Oblivion's styling and logo, although Gardaland's version has an overarching space theme compared with Alton Towers' distopian shady governmental organisation feel.
Oblivion: The Black Hole is definitely an upgrade on the original, featuring floorless trains and two inversions, albeit with a slightly shorter drop. The floorless trains leave riders feeling more exposed, although they are narrower and have three rows instead of two, meaning there is less chance of a front row seat. Whatever anybody tries to tell you about fancy stadium style seating, anything but a front row ride on a dive coaster is only half the experience.
The drop may be shorter than the original Oblivion's, but since that one was mostly underground, Oblivion: The Black Hole's feels much higher up and more intimidating. While the train doesn't fall into a vertical hole, Gardaland's version has a spectacular head-chopper tunnel effect as the train begins to level out at the bottom of the drop and it enters the "black hole".
From this point, Oblivion: The Black Hole is incomparible to the Alton Towers ride which pretty much just delivers riders back to the station via an overbanked turn. Instead, at Gardaland, the experience has only just begun. Exiting out of the black hole, the train runs immediately into a large immelmann loop, turning riders upside down mere seconds after they had left their stomachs at the top of the vertical drop. And there's little chance of their stomachs catching back up with them at this point either, with the train shooting over an airtime hill and projecting unattached body parts skywards once again. Following a helix comes a heartline roll, before the train finally comes to a stop on the brake run, with riders feeling their bodies have been stretched and spun just as if they had really been through a black hole.
While I will always have a soft spot for the original Oblivion and its heart-stopping drop into the ground beneath Staffordshire, Oblivion: The Black Hole manages to take all that is good from that ride and make it even better. It proves how much dive coasters can be enhanced with floorless trains and inversions, and that while the vertical drop will always be the iconic moment of the ride, that is by far not all it can be.
Oblivion: The Black Hole entrance
Lift hill and vertical drop
Train at the top
Preparing to set off
Top of the lift
Hanging over the edge