Nemesis: Sub-Terra (SBNO)

Nemesis Sub-terra

Inside Nemesis Sub-Terra

A nightmarish underground adventure awaits anyone brave enough to explore the mysterious Phalanx facility at the entrance to Forbidden Valley. Phalanx Control have been investigating the legend of Nemesis and you are invited to join them to see the results of their recent explorations.

Sub-Terra was a story led drop tower ride, which told the story of a safety breach within the Phalanx facility. Guests were ostensibly entering the attraction to view a giant alien egg that had been discovered within a cave complex, deep beneath Forbidden Valley. Once guests were seated within the viewing gallery, things began to go wrong when the supposedly dormant egg hatched mid-ride and the offspring of Nemesis were let loose into the cavern.

During the ride sequence, you were dropped from the lab into a whole nest of alien eggs, as klaxons and alarms go off all around. This was followed by a frantic escape from the facility, featuring a pair of very rickety lifts, which were prone to Nemesis attacks.

Attraction History

In 2011 the Lava Lump and other associated games were removed from the old Dynamo site, which was soon surrounded by construction fences. By Scarefest, a military tank, later revealed as The Stag, arrived on site and banners proclaimed that in 2012 we'd discover What Lies Beneath.

Throughout the closed season development work continued and the park launched a series of marketing campaigns, revealing key information about the ride and hyping up Sub-Terra's close links to the original Nemesis legend.

The teaser campaigns also focused heavily on the terrifying nature of the experience, culminating in a marketing stunt where the British Board of Film Classification gave the ride a 12A rating. On 24th March 2012, the ride opened to the public, billed as "Your worst nightmare: underground."

Substandard

Nemesis Sub-terra (before extention)

It turned out, however, that the ride would prove to be the park's worst nightmare - early reviews of the ride were not positive, resulting in very low guest satisfaction ratings. Many felt that the experience was far too short, lacking immersion and was generally not at all terrifying. The lifts at the end of the ride proved to be particularly anti-climactic, as instead of building to the ride's big finale, they instead released confused guests straight back into broad daylight, wondering if 'that was it'.

The park took on board this guest feedback, and in May 2012 the ride closed between 21st and 25th of the month, to receive upgrades. The existing preshow and ride sequence was tweaked to make the overall story flow better, but by far the biggest changes came at the end of the ride. After the lifts, an additional shipping container was added, containing a scare maze finale, complete with new effects and live actors.

These alterations created a much more complete ride experience, which more closely reflected the ride's billing as a terrifying attraction. They also resulted in a much more positive public opinion of the new and improved Nemesis: Sub-Terra.

What Happened Next...

Nemesis: Sub Terra - Closed for TLC

Unfortunately, the ride never really managed to rise above its bumpy arrival into the park. Whilst the modifications were certainly an improvement on the original version of the ride, the height clearance of the building meant that the drop towers at the heart of Sub-Terra were too short to offer any real thrill. This meant that the attraction was too scary for some (due to the storyline and live action elements) and too tame for others (due to the actual ride itself), leaving an increasingly small segment of guests to enjoy the ride in its entirety.

The improved experience also relied very heavily on the scaremaze for the full experience, so as the number of actors dwindled over the years, so too did the effectiveness of the scares and therefore popularity of the ride.

And then the maintenance issues began - it was not long before the restraints on the drop towers began to cause real issues for the ride and, by its third year in the park, Sub-Terra was experiencing long periods of downtime to rectify these issues. After one final period of maintenance, the ride reopened in June 2015 with all new and very much more restrictive restraints, which it was hoped would finally solve the ride's reliability.

But it was not to be, and the ride would close again in August of that year. Ever since, hope and rumour have often swirled around the internet of a possible re-emergence of the ride, but have we have been sub-terrorised for the final time? These days, the remains of the ride are standing but not operating within the Phalanx Facility, being used for spare parts for other similar rides elsewhere in other Merlin attractions.

Project 42 cast in Nemesis Sub-Terra's egg chamber

But the story didn't end there... Nemesis Sub-Terra had somewhat of a second life as part of Scarefest, starting shortly after closure. Not only did it feature as the backdrop for the Dark Apocalypse Scare Zone in 2015-16, but the promotional Sub-Terra egg from 2012's Big Egg Hunt also re-appeared in Sub-Strain: Hunt for the Cure, the park's one-time educational Scarefest experience.

In more recent years, the attraction itself played host to Project 42, which saw zombies roam the facility as guests hunted for the cure for a lethal virus. The maze itself ran for two seasons from 2018-2019, but its props and sets remained in place for the following years until 2022 when the building was seemingly cleared of all the Scarefest theming.

Attraction Stats


Opened
24th March 2012
Closed
8th August 2015
Cost
£4 Million
Track Height
8m
Ride Length
5.00 approx
Throughput
800 riders per hour
Ride Capacity
40 people per cycle
Ride Cars
4 towers
Persons per Car
10 per tower

Timeline

24th March 2012
Opened in Forbidden Valley, replacing Dynamo
May 2012
Received significant TLC
8th August 2015
Closed after 4 seasons and is currently SBNO

Attraction Facts

Manufacturer
ABC Rides
Type
Drop Tower
Opened
24th March 2012
Closed
8th August 2015