"I survived Action Park."

That's a phrase that a lot of Jersey kids who grew up in the '80s and early '90s can say thanks to the Garden State's most infamous water park.

In a 7 year span, 6 people died.

In 1987 the director of the emergency room at a nearby hospital said they treated from five to ten victims of park accidents on some of the busiest days, and the park eventually bought the township of Vernon extra ambulances to keep up with the volume."

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In a new documentary, filmmakers Chris Charles Scott and Seth Porges set out to dig into the myth and the truth about the park in the appropriately titled, "Class Action Park: The Legend of the World's Most Dangerous Amusement Park".

Action Park. Photo / Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr Creative Commons
Action Park. Photo / Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr Creative Commons

It's not all that surprising that this park was notoriously fatal. The Super Speedboats were set up in a small pond, known by park staff to be heavily infested with snakes. Bumper Boats was a supposedly safer ride than the Super Speedboats, but the engines often leaked gasoline.


In the mid-1980s GAR built the Cannonball Loop, with a complete vertical loop at the end, similar to that of a roller coaster. The resulting slide was so intimidating that employees have reported they were offered $100 to test it. Fergus, who described himself as "one of the idiots" who took the offer, said, "$100 did not buy enough booze to drown out that memory." The slide was opened for only one month in summer 1985 before it was closed at the order of the state's Advisory Board on Carnival Amusement Ride Safety.

"The Grave Pool" was 30 m wide by 250 m long and could hold 500 to 1,000 people. Waves were generated for 20 minutes at a time with 10-minute intervals between them, and could reach 1m in height. It was not always obvious that pool depth increased as one got closer to the far end, and many could not swim. Even those who could swim sometimes exhausted themselves, causing patrons to crowd the side ladders as the waves began, leading to many accidents. Two people died in this pool.

Photo / Action Park
Photo / Action Park

On Reddit, people are sharing their memories of the park. ArcticSaint says: "My favorite thing was the bumper boats. Basically an outboard motor in the middle of an inter tube. When you got hit, it would knock your legs into the hot exposed motor. I wanted to put my legs in the water to cool them but there were snakes swimming around."

Mre4u says: "These weak ass kids today couldn't handle the sheer pandemonium of that place. There were no rules. It was the wild west. I would give anything to go back to those days."

Mikey1019, "Loved action park! I was heading up the mountain on the ski lift for the Alpine Slide one day ,when I saw someone stop on the track of the Alpine Slide and stand up , no less than 15 seconds later another rider came flying down and crashed in to the first person, sending both of them off the track and blood flowing all over the place."

Ah, memories.

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