Action Park once held the reputation of being so fun that it killed people. It was the most insane and the most dangerous amusement park that ever existed. Daily injuries became common due to rides that defied physics and encouraged even riskier behavior.
The park had no rules, drunk employees in charge of rides to drunk teenagers, a disaster waiting to happen, and accidents and deaths occurred, not just once but repeatedly. There were so many accidents at Action Park that the owner of the park bought the town more ambulances; the ER staff said some days, over ten people would be admitted with injuries from the park.
Action Park was an amusement and waterpark located in Vernon Township, New Jersey, and opened to the public in 1978, the invention of Gene Mulvihill. He had an idea where every visitor could control their thrill level, and he envisioned a park where the patrons managed the rides, including how fast and high they went.
The first ride in Action Park was the Alpine Slide, the best part; you controlled how fast or slow you went. However, at the top of the slide, there was a warning of possible injuries, but most ignored the warnings. The Alpine Slide has been described as "essentially a giant track to rip people's skin off that was disguised as a kid's ride."
It was a cement and fiberglass-filled track that you went down in a wheeled device, except most of the cars on the slide were already broken or had no brakes, or the brakes would always be on. It would surely result in someone behind a slow rider crashing into them.
The first fatality on the slide was George Larsson Jr, a 19-year-old who flew off the track, hit his head on a rock and died. Gene Mulvihill went on to tell reporters that he was an employee riding at night, and it was raining.
Mulvihill stated he was an employee, so he would not have to report the death to the state. However, the family of Larsson disputes the story. The Alpine Slide was notorious for fractures, head injuries, and scrapes and burns from the concrete track. NJ records show over 14 fractures and 26 head injuries on just the Alpine Slide.
The second ride to open was the Tidal Wave Pool, the first in the USA. Unfortunately, it was also becoming one of the most dangerous rides, nicknamed ¨The Grave Pool¨. The pool contained fresh water, not salt water, making it difficult to swim in, and most who entered were not strong swimmers, and many were often drunk.
The waves inside the pool would get up to 3 feet high, and the pool was said to be too powerful and too deep. The part of the pool where the water would reach most people's shoulders became known as ¨The Death Zone¨; lifeguards would be sent there as a type of hazing, and the lifeguard's chair in that area was called ¨The Death Chair¨.
The pool had 12 lifeguards on duty, and they would save at least 30 people a day. However, the water was so dirty that they couldn't see the bottom of the pool, and they had to scan the bottom of the pool when the tidal wave came. In 1982 George Lopez drowned in the pool, and five years later, Gregory Grandchamps drowned.
Unfortunately, the rides keep getting worse with the Cannonball Loop. A ride that ends with riders falling 10 feet before hitting the water after being shot out of the slide. Legend has it that when they were testing the ride with a dummy doll, there was a problem, the doll kept losing its head.
So it was apparent Gene needed real testers. He then offered $100 to his employees to test out the new rides, even the cannonball loop. Many did end up with bloody noses and bruises but no lost heads, so he opened the ride to the public. However, the ride was only open for a month and was shut down due to injuries, including people getting stuck inside the ride, and some even suffered shock from the water being so cold when they hit it.
Even the Kayak ride was dangerous. Jeffrey Nathan, 27 years old, was killed on ¨The Kayak Experience¨, a kayak ride with rapids, except underwater fans generated the rapids. Nathan flipped into the kayak, and while he was trying to get back on the kayak, one of the underwater fans short-circuited and electrocuted him.
The death led to a permanent closure of the kayak experience. However, according to reports, the park would not take responsibility for the death and stated the ride was closed because people were too scared.
The roaring rapids were another dangerous ride, which resulted in broken bones, and one guest almost drowned.
However, despite the dangers and the deaths, the park remained open, and people still flocked to participate. However, in 1984, two ends eventually led to legal and financial problems from lawsuits.
A state investigation of misconduct in leasing state land to Action Park also led to a 110-count grand jury indictment against the nine related companies that ran the park and the unauthorized insurance company. Gene ended up pleading guilty to five insurance fraud-related charges.
However, the park remained open until 1996. Again, the park was responsible for six fatalities, with countless injuries. The park did reopen in 2014 under a new name Mountain Creek and advertised trained lifeguard staff and up-to-date safety features.
However, it is nowhere like Action Park, a dangerous park with drunk teenagers participating and in charge of the rides. However, those who grew up in the area will always remember the thrills they had at Action Park.
HBO came out with a documentary about the park called Class Action Park.