I was checking out the article archives the other day and I stumbled across one that immediately grabbed my attention. It was a piece on none other than the infamous Action Park. As soon as I saw that article I felt obligated to write about it. For those of you who have been there you know what Action Park is all about and for those of you who have not I will enlighten you. In a nutshell Action Park was a lawless poorly run and designed waterpark that was notorious for causing injuries and sometimes even death to its parkgoers. Not to metion the best name for a waterpark of all time. How creative a name is that for ya? ACTION PARK! LOL. Believe me there was plenty of action at Action Park. I found a description that summed up Action Park perfectly; "Its popularity went hand in hand with a reputation for poorly-designed, unsafe rides; inattentive, underaged, underpaid and sometimes under-the-influence employees; equally intoxicated and underprepared visitors, and the poor safety record that followed from this perfect storm of circumstances. Priceless! I also thought this quote really captured the essence of Action Park "Action Park was a haven for injury, death, and blood - not because of some haunted power, but because it was built by idiots with no regard for safety." How great is that? In order to give the people who have never been to or heard of Action Park a feel of how screwed up this storied waterpark really was, here are some local newspaper headlines about this legendary place.
Action Park was a waterpark/motorpark located in Vernon township, in Northwest New Jersey. It was opened from 1978 up until 1996, its season was from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year. If you know about Action Park than you know that this was truly an amazing feat that it stayed open for almost 20 years. For the first sixteen years of my life I grew up in Bloomfield Township in Essex County New Jersey before moving to Rhode Isalnd. Where I lived I was about a 45 minute to an hour drive away from Action Park in Vernon. Ever since the first time I went to Action Park in 1991, when I was 8 years old, I went at least once every summer until it closed in 1996. I'm sure I can speak for everyone who grew up with Action Park when I say this; when Action Park closed a piece of me died. After it closed they changed its name to Moutain Creek Park and really pussified it up. It was not the same at all. Luckily for me I moved out of the state not too long after that happened. The first time I went to Action Park I was 8 years old and in all honesty that experience put hair on my testicles. No word of a lie Action Park turned me into a man at the ripe old age of eight. =
While attending Action Park as a young kid I did not truly appreciate how my very life hung in the balance each and every second at Action Park. I'm 26 years old now and when I look back on it I realize that the closest I've come to death so far was the times I was running amuck at Action Park from ages 8-13. Damn those were the days. I swear that place was like Vegas for kids. It was absolute madness. The rides were dangerous as hell and you could get away with absolutely anything. ANYTHING! The employees were all in their teens and early 20s and they did not give two shits about what went down. Of course they sold beer here too which only added fuel to the Action Park fire. It was fuckin romper room.
Now onto some of the classic Action Park rides. Easily one of the park's more dangerous rides, if not the most dangerous, was Alpine Slide. On this gem of a ride you descended down a concrete/fiberglass slide on this stupid little sled thing that had a stick built into it that was supposed to act as the "break." Well needless to say these breaks rarely worked as you made your descent down the Alpine Slide at what seemed like 500mph. People routinely ate shit and got injured on this ride. Over the years both me and my brother both got injured on this one. I cut up my arm real bad when I scraped it up against the fiberglass side, I think I lost close to a couple of pints of blood in the process. My brother was even less fortunate, he suffered a dislocated shoulder after his sled careened over the side hurling him onto the ground right on top of his shoulder. Good fuckin times.yea sure that looks safe
The next time I got hurt was on a slide called Cannonball Falls. I remember flying through a dark tunnel and out of nowhere my head slammed into the side of the tube on a insanley sharp turn. It was not over yet though. As this slide came to an end you were lilterally shot out of the tube like 10-15 feet in the air and slammed right into this skummy little pond with extreme force which would cause a devistating THUD noise. The pond was loaded with all kinds of vile things along with previous riders who were usually in a state of shock and or serious pain after being torpedoed outta a slide at insanse speeds, while at the same time trying to avoid getting barreled over by the other kids being shot out of the slide after them. Of course Action Park gave absolutely no warning about this at all. As an 8 year old this experience was pretty terrifying but like I mentioned earlier it put hair on my balls. I swear I think I got a mild concussion at the hands of Cannonball Falls because I remember wandering around the park for a good hour or so in a daze after that. they used this guy in one of their commercials. What a creep.
Now one of my all time favorite Action Park rides was located in the motorworld secion of the park. It was called Tank Ride and it ruled. This was such a fun ride for kids. You got to ride on these motorized tank vehicles that came equipped with tennis ball cannons. There were also these sensor targets mounted on each tank which you tried to hit. When you hit this target it shut off the motor of the tank for around 15-20 seconds, where you could then launch an all out assault on the out of comminsion tank. Then even better there were more tennis ball cannons mounted on the fence that enclosed the Tank Ride battleground. Here you could shoot at riders and also shoot at Action Park employees. What would happen is many times the tanks would crap out and the workers would have to come out to get the tank running again. While they would be assisting with the tank the onslaught would begin, with people shooting tennis balls at high velocities from their cannons at the teenage stoner Action Park workers. It was pure ecstasy. Unfortunately I could not find a picture of tank ride but I guess this will do. LOLA gokart another feature ride at Motorworld in Action Park
Action Park also had a wave pool which was known as the "grave pool." The wave pool was insane, three people actualy drowned to death here and people constantly had to be rescued from suffering the same fate. There would be like a thousand people all crammed into this pool going up against what seemed like 30 foot waves one after another with no let up along with an insane rip tide effect. It was crazy! One summer my cousin almost drowned in the wave pool. It was terrifying I was like 9 years old and I noticed my cousin had ventured out really far away from where I was, almost all the way to the end, and he was really struggling with the undertoe. I went into all out panic mode and ran to the nearest Action Park lifeguard. So I explain to him the situation and ask him for help. No word of lie he just gives me a blank stare for around 30 seconds then he tells me to leave him alone and that he's "busy." Typical Action Park for ya. Realizing I'm getting absolutely no help from Action Park I rush back into the pool to go and do the best that I can as a nine year old to try and help my cousin. Thankfully when I re-entered I noticed that some random middle aged guy had pulled my cousin to safety into the low end. Just another one of the countless close calls at Action Park.
The last ride I will mention was known as the Cannonball Loop. This slide was the epitome of an Action Park attraction. Unfortunately I never got to ride this one, I think it was only open for a month or so, but even though it was not in use it was still kept up. It had a very creepy aura to it, just sitting there abandoned. When you looked at this slide even as a youngster you knew there was no way in hell you could go down that slide and not get hurt. Basically it was a fairly standard tube slide, until it reached the end. Honest to Christ at the bottom of this slide there was a full 360 degree loop, like one you would see on a roller coaster. You did not have to be Issac Newton or Albert Einstein to realize that the physics of this slide spelled P-A-I-N! A former Action Park employee stated how he and fellow co workers were offered 100 dollars to test ride the Cannonball Loop, this former employee was quoted as saying "It didn't buy enough booze to drown out the memory", said Fergus. what unfortunate riders were spewed out into upon completion of the Cannonball Loop
Action Park will forever hold a special place in my heart and I'm sure it will for all of you who have been there. It's a damn shame that it closed, but at the same time it's a miracle that Action Park stayed open as long as it did. You can still go to Vernon, New Jersey and attend Mountain Creek Waterpark, but it is just not the same. I will quote from a Action Park commercial "there's nothing in the world like Action Park!" That statement rang so true. R.I.P. Action Park.