The “World’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park” is open again for business.
Action Park in New Jersey built its own legend from 1978 to 1996, unfortunately in the main for the six known deaths that occurred there.
The 35-acre site was nicknamed “Traction Park”, or “Class Action Park”, at one time allegedly clocking up between five and 10 serious injuries a day.
A barrage of lawsuits eventually saw it closed down, but interest was revived in the past couple of years when an online film about the park, The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever, went viral.
Most of the good memories stemmed from Action Park’s staff willingness to supe up the rides for attendees. The Super Go Karts’ speed governors could be overidden by a tennis ball wedged in the right spot, bumping speeds up from 32 km/h to 80km/h.
Cue head-on collisions and riders “overcome by gasoline fumes as they drove.”
There was a bumper boat pond which workers say was infested with snakes. The Wave Pool was tragically the site of three drownings, despite 12 lifeguards being permanently stationed there.
Now Andy Mulvihill, son of the park’s founder, has bought the old site and revived the park. He says it’s safer, but not so much that it won’t be as memorable for visitors as it was back in its heyday.
“The overall conclusion that the people who went to Action Park have is that it was a phenomenal place,” he told the New York Post. “I don’t get approached by people telling me what a terrible place it was. The strength of that passion far outweighed the negative things.”
One ride that won’t be coming back – at least in the first season – is the waterslide that should never have been allowed to exist.
The Cannonball Loop didn’t last a summer after it opened for a bruising four weeks for visitors in the summer of 1985 before the New Jersey Carnival Amusement Ride Safety Advisory Board shut it down.
A couple of years ago, one attendee gave this hilarious testimonial to WeirdNJ about his experience on the Cannonball Loop:
Even as a 12-year-old, I understood how physics would not allow anyone to come out of that tube with anything but mangled, broken limbs. According to the people I was with that day, the slide was never actually used by humans. During its test runs, done with realistic dummies, the dummies came out time and time again with their heads and arms ripped off. So it stood, merely as decoration.
Not so. Real people did suffer the loop… after it was tested by employees desperate to accept the cash bribes park management offered.
If the rider got to the top, he (Again, the riders were mostly dudes. Read into that what you will.) suffered the final indignity of being sprayed with a garden hose. The top attendant then instructed the rider on the only acceptable ride position (on your back, feet first, arms folded across chest, ankles crossed), waited for the hatch attendant to check inside for any weirdness (cracks, water not flowing, etc), and then WHOOSH! Off they went. They made a godawful racket in there, with the bumping around and the screaming, but they always made it out alive, though no one was foolish enough to ride it a second time.
This rare video emerged back in April of people who actually looked like they enjoyed the experience:
The Cannonball Loop summarised all that was legendary about Action Park. Basically, something that looked like a guy knocked up in his backyard, for maximum fun, and with minimum thought.
Hopefully the 2014 version can deliver on the promise. At the very least, the owners are off to a dream start with the amount of publicity it’s already generated.