Johnny Knoxville's latest movie, Action Point, is loosely based on a real water park that existed in New Jersey in the 1970s and 80s. And yes, it was even crazier than the movie shows it to be.
Last year, Brainjet took a look at that legend that was Action Park, enjoy.
Once upon a time, way back in the last century, around the year 1980, commercials started appearing on TV stations all over the New York City tristate area. In the commercials, children and adults of all ages were whizzing down waterslides, racing go-carts around a track, swinging from vines and plunging through waves, all having the time of their lives. "The action never stops at Action Park!" the ads proclaimed. TNow, the odds were when the commercial probably ran during Saturday morning cartoons and simultaneously around the Tri-State area, millions of kids started begging their parents to go be a part of the action.
What the commercials didn't reveal was the extremely dark side of the place: the crazy amount of injuries sustained at the amusement park including multiple deaths! The town was Vernon, New Jersey, and the water park was Action Park.
The rumor was that Action Park was so dangerous, the town of Vernon was forced to buy a second ambulance to keep up with the park's carnage. Everyone that grew up in the Tristate area and spent time at (Tr)Action Park has a story. Some were as benign as a skinned knee, some were far serious, like broken bones and concussions. The patrons of Action Park were the test dummies for the rides all over the park and most of the attractions were dangerous. It's impossible to know how many people were injured over the years, the estimates are all over the place, but what cannot be disputed is that 6 people were killed on attractions at (Class) Action Park. The attractions, the rides and slides, were mostly untested before they were unleashed on the public. The park was one of the first water parks in the country, so there were no safety standards and the rides were designed straight from the imagination of the owners and staff with no regard to safety. They even went so far as to design a waterslide with a Loop de loop!
Amazingly, the most benign-sounding attraction, the Wave Pool, was the most dangerous of them all. It was nicknamed "The Grave Pool" after it claimed three lives over the years. There were always way too many people in the pool then there should have been and while it was manned by as many 12 lifeguards at a time, people still disappeared under the water and couldn't be seen until it was too late.
The attraction with most injuries wasn't in the water park section though, it was it's own beast altogether. It was known as the Alpine Slide. Imagine a concrete canal winding down a ski slope with kids on small scooters going as fast as the scooters will take them. Then imagine that the scooters' brakes don't work. Or that a wheel is loose. Or someone is scared and slows down, but the person behind them is trying to speed up until...CRASH! Broken bones and road rash were the norm. People said that if you finished the track without some blood gushing somewhere, you were doing it incorrectly.
The staff at Action Park was like the cast of a raunchy '80s teenage comedy. Comprised almost solely of college-aged kids, the staff really didn't care what happened on the attractions. By many accounts, they spent their days drunk, stoned and chasing after the opposite sex. The most popular spots for staff to be assigned were on attractions like the Tarzan Swing, which was notorious for stripping those who swung on it of their bathing suits or one of the many food stands around the park that sold beer to anyone willing to ask for it, regardless of age. It was an outstanding combination of ridiculously dangerous rides and drunk teenagers in charge. How could anyone expect that anything would ever go wrong?
It's amazing the park lasted as long as it did. 18 years of emergency room visits, plaster casts and gauze finally gave way and Action Park served it's last beer on September 2nd, 1996. In 1998, it was re-opened by a different operator and under a new name, Mountain Creek, but much was scaled back, and even more remained closed. While it remained popular, it was never the same. Even a short-lived attempt to rename the park with its original moniker in 2014 couldn't rekindle the magic and it reverted back to Mountain Creek in 2016, which is still its name today.
Too much safety and not enough insanity just couldn't bring back the crazy old days.
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