Action Park: The world’s most dangerous amusement park
The world’s most dangerous amusement park isn’t a Six Flags with a poorly maintained wooden coaster, and it isn’t a park in some faraway country with fewer laws and regulations. Action Park was a New Jersey summertime amusement park which was advertised as fun for the whole family.
However, it wasn’t that – it was a dangerous park just waiting for a lawsuit to happen, except it never had to wait long because there were numerous lawsuits over the years. The park existed in the 1980s-1990s and was notorious in the Jersey area for being a place where you would experience near death. Literally. Six people died while being at Action Park.
The idea behind the park was that instead of going on rides which were controlled by park employees, the attendees were in control. “You control the action”, is what the old TV commercials you find online boast. Here’s why Action Park was referred to as Class Action Park by the people who lived near it.
The Alpine Slide
The Alpine Slide (which existed only in 1984 & 1985) was, on its own, the cause of 14 fractured bones and 26 head injuries. The slide was so large you needed a ski lift to get to the top.
The slide was a concrete track where riders would get onto a wheeled “sled” and fly down the track at their own discretion. However, people who went to the park growing up describe sleds as always being broken. The son (Andrew Mulvihill) of the man who ran the park said, “if you went too fast you could come out”, implying you could fly off of the track entirely.
The brakes were said to be either completely non-functional, causing riders to wildly careen down the cement path without any way to slow down & control the sled – or the breaks would permanently be stuck in the on position causing you to scoot down the path at a snail’s pace where you would inevitably be slammed into by someone with no brakes.
The loop-de-loop slide
This slide was a waterslide which aimed to defy physics . . . and failed. The slide was legitimately a waterslide which shot riders downwards only to be thrown into an actual upside down loop at the very end. Which, obviously, ended very poorly.
“Just from the force of your own bones hitting the Earth, [you would] flip over and come down”, says one person who went to the park as a child. Others say that within a week of the ride being open numerous people walked away with bloody noses from smacking their heads on the slide. Mulvihill said the waterslide was, “never quite perfected” since it was “a little too rough on folks”.
There was a rumor about the waterslide which says employees were offered $100 to test the slide out when it was newer. The former director of operations, Adam Ringler, confirmed there was a monetary reward “early on” for employees who would go down the slide as well as for testing other attractions.
The wave pool
The wave pool at Action Park is described as one of the first ever, however it was also the source of more than one death in the amusement park. The waves are described as too big & too long, and the lifeguards had no chance. Multiple drownings happened in the wave pool at Action Park.
One attendee says that you would expect an amusement park to have employees who would come and help you if a ride breaks, he then says you realize within moments of being in Action Park that this will not be the case. Another person says, “staff would show up if someone got hurt, maybe”.
One person says, “a fifteen-year-old from Long Island walking around with a Budweiser can was not frowned upon at all. And very common.”
The owner of the park also created his own insurance company in the Cayman Islands in order to insure the park, which also gave him a lot more control and leniency on how things were run. Eventually, in 1996 the park ceased to exist after being sold, though many people who came out of the park alive still remember it fondly.