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The Return of America’s Most Notorious Theme Park

May 27, 2014

Are the horrifying tales surrounding New Jersey’s Action Park even true? In honor of its upcoming reopening, here’s a look.

Action Park first opened in Vernon, New Jersey, in 1978 and by the mid-1980s, drew more than a million visitors each year. Lured by catchy TV ads claiming that “the action never stops at Action Park!” thrill-seekers came from all over the Northeast to try out the park’s Alpine Slide and other rickety rides.

Action Park Loop SlideThe most famously dangerous attraction was the Cannonball Loop, a water slide featuring a completely vertical loop. According to reports, staff members were offered $100 each to test it before it opened in 1985. Later that year, a safety commission shut down the Loop…after a single month in operation. A poorly designed skateboard park suffered a similar fate. Not shut down was the Tank Ride, which featured motorized mini-tanks that fired tennis balls, a crowd favorite despite the obvious safety hazards.

It was also around 1985 that Action Park earned the local nicknames “Traction Park” and “Class Action Park.” A nearby hospital attended to anywhere from five to 10 injured visitors on busy summer days, and lawsuits began to mount. The high accident rate eventually forced Vernon’s city council to fund an additional ambulance to keep apace with the park’s victims.

Despite its terrible safety record, the park was successful enough to spawn an offshoot location in Pennsylvania, which closed in 1991. The original Action Park went bankrupt and closed in 1996, having killed six visitors in 18 years. After some modifications, the park’s “Waterworld” section later reopened as the Mountain Creek Waterpark. The rest of Action Park faded into history for most, although a documentary called The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever was released in 2013. You can watch the whole video in the link above.

But even the scary parts of pop culture are subject to the hazy filters of nostalgia. The owners of the Mountain Creek Waterpark have decided to rename the facility Action Park, and its set to re-open on June 14. On the docket for the future: classic thrill rides that owners promise would be just like the ones that would’ve been found in the old Action Park.

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JOhn F
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JOhn F

I remember that park. Yes, the rides were pretty great. Oh, I mean crazy. My brother and I went in 1978 and 1979, before some of the later attractions. My favorite memory of the park was my brother on the big water slide. It wasn’t just one slide, but had lanes next to each other so you could race each other down the hill, with a little ridge between the lanes that did NOT hold people in their designated areas. My brother was ahead of me by about 5 feet one time, and somehow halfway crossed into my lane, and… Read more »

Tarditi
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Tarditi

That place was awesome… yes you got a little dinged up but it was the most fun a kid could have a theme park.

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