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The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever
September 28, 2013 12:00 PM   Subscribe

The story of New Jersey's infamous Action Park is retold by visitors and those who worked there and Part 2
A more detailed look at the history of the park (previously)
posted by Blasdelb (32 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

Wow just seeing the name makes the phrase ACTION PARK ACTION PARK bounce in my head like a lost popped corn nugget.
posted by The Whelk at 12:17 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

He was like a combination of Walt Disney and P.T. Barnum... and Lord of the Flies... and Dante... and Jigsaw from the Saw franchise...
posted by jonp72 at 12:28 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

OH MY GOD. I wish I could have experienced this. Add in some clown aliens or make the employees psychic vampires, and it could be the next Stephen King novel.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 12:36 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Awesome, The action never stops at action park!
posted by Ad hominem at 12:37 PM on September 28, 2013

Even though I grew up in the seventies, stories about them do seem like they took place in another universe.
posted by octothorpe at 12:39 PM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

I would watch the commercials for this place and get all "Oh my god those people are literally jumping off cliffs WHAAAAAT?" but then Scooby Doo would come back on and I'd forget all about it for a while.
posted by mintcake! at 12:48 PM on September 28, 2013

That sounds pretty crazy, but it's no Thrill World.

I ain't afraid of no rolly-coaster.
posted by murphy slaw at 12:56 PM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

I work with people who still proudly carry scars (physical and mental) from Action Park.
posted by Perfectibilist at 12:56 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I first read about this thanks to this MeFi post. And thank goodness, because I cannot read enough about it.
posted by davidjmcgee at 12:57 PM on September 28, 2013

Alpine Slide, baby. Did it and survived.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:05 PM on September 28, 2013 [6 favorites]

Tore my hand open on the Alpine Slide on an exposed bolt or screw and nearly drowned in the Tidal Wave Pool.

Takes me back :)
posted by codswallop at 1:13 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah this is at least a triple.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:17 PM on September 28, 2013

Alpine Slide survivor here, checking in.

Blood on TV shows or in movies rarely affects me because when I was eight my friend went down the Alpine Slide and basically tore all the skin off his back. He recovered in a few months' time, but the last time I saw him he still had long thin scar stripes running along his sides.

Man. Nothing like a New Jersey childhood.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:22 PM on September 28, 2013 [8 favorites]

The videos are interesting because I was aware of how crazy this place was (my family went when I was around 4 or 5-ish (1990-ish), but nothing memorable happened, I just remember a lot of walking up mountain hills) but I don't think I was fully aware of the degree of anarchy that was running the place.

I like how at the end of the last video every one is like "Oh yeah some people got scraped up but everyone always tells me how much fun they had! Injuries and fatalities happen everywhere."
posted by bleep at 1:38 PM on September 28, 2013

The video's all available in Full HD here for maximum terrifyingness. I remember the last post, and having this vivid picture, between Action Park and the Mad Hatter's Tea Party of how much of a shame it was to have been brought up in the sedate English Midlands at the time.
posted by ambrosen at 1:41 PM on September 28, 2013

Now that I think about it, I seem to recall going over the lip of a sharp curve on the Alpine Slide and landing my sled on a salt hay bale.

What Rory Marinich said, though ... I think there was something unique about growing up a child of working class parents in the Jersey 'burbs in the '70s that will never be replicated. Sorta like The Wonder Years but with more concussions.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:44 PM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Still can't believe my ordinarily cautious parents brought us here again and again. No scars, but I regularly got the wind knocked out of me on various misadventures.

It was also a de facto "anatomy of the opposite sex" lesson, as most people finished the largest water slide with parts of bathing suits either jammed into nether regions or completely separated from their owners.
posted by jalexei at 1:48 PM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Another alpine slide survivor, but in my late twenties, I should have known better.
posted by scottymac at 2:01 PM on September 28, 2013

My kids loved Action Park, as a mom, I did not, especially that it was all steeply uphill and suffocating on a really hot, humid NJ day despite all the water. I did like the wave pool, but was an experienced ocean swimmer. I remember once my Dad took the kids and someone was electrocuted on one of the rides several days later. That really scared me. It was not until years later reading about it in Weird NJ that I learned how dangerous it really was. One of my sons who still loves action and danger has that video on his Facebook page. The boys and Grandpop thought it was a great place.
posted by mermayd at 2:04 PM on September 28, 2013

My parents used to call Action Park Lawsuit Park. I don't know that there was a time I came out of there without an injury. Those were the days...
posted by amelliferae at 3:07 PM on September 28, 2013

I loved Action Park, liability be damned. The mythical ride my friends and I all loved in theory (but not in practice) were the tennis ball shooting tanks. The reality of them was always disappointing, especially after you'd just risked life and limb on the Alpine Slide. I think Action Park was the first long distance drive my best friend from high school and I ever took without adults. A long way from Connecticut to Jersey with nothing but outdated Rand-McNally maps, but so worth it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:17 PM on September 28, 2013

I've done rides identical to the Apline Slide while in Europe. Like this one.

Nobody was dying or losing vital amounts of blood, it was actually pretty tame. So was it the lack of brakes or was Action Park's setup just badly done on top of that?
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:25 PM on September 28, 2013

The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin show did a podcast about Action Park and it is laugh out loud funny. Let's just say the park owners donated an ambulance to the local hospital. It's No. 57 here.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:25 PM on September 28, 2013

Oh God...Traction Park...what a nightmare. I remember going there a few times as a kid. It was no Sesame Place.
posted by inturnaround at 8:19 PM on September 28, 2013

Never went to Action Park, but definitely rode several alpine slides as a kid, and even with the general fearlessness I was afflicted with at that age, I remember thinking something like "Wow, I am a kid and I am piloting a plastic sled with a brake that barely works along a cement track. There's a lot that could go terribly wrong here..."
posted by rollbiz at 9:53 PM on September 28, 2013

It was also a de facto "anatomy of the opposite sex" lesson, as most people finished the largest water slide with parts of bathing suits either jammed into nether regions or completely separated from their owners.

Yeah. Hell, yeah.

Remember the zipline? It beat any strip joint I may or may not have discovered later in life.
posted by codswallop at 10:45 PM on September 28, 2013

I lost skin on the Alpine Slide AND lost a watch on the Tarzan swing.
posted by mikelieman at 12:14 AM on September 29, 2013

Never been to Jersey and, therefore, Action Park, but I spent a full day here screaming down their alpine slides, and I loved every second of it. Never using the sled's brakes was the awesome part. Of course that meant that you were certain to fly out of the track on any number of the curves, but flying off into the air with the sled likely hitting you in the head as you landed was some of the most fun of the experience.

I did lose a lot of skin on those concrete slopes, but it was worth it.

The ski lift ride back up was pretty cool too, but we never spit on people beneath us. We're pretty civilized and respectful here in Illinois.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:54 AM on September 29, 2013

"...I did like the wave pool, but was an experienced ocean swimmer..." posted by mermayd at 2:04 PM on September 28 [+] [!]

I grew up in a Jersey beach town ("The Shore") for up-staters and only recently realized why I could spend hours in the ocean hopping over waves without exhausting myself but seemingly becoming exhausted after only minutes in the wave pool at Action Park. The Action Park wave pool was filled with fresh water, which of course is a lot less buoyant than the salt water of Sea Bright. That lack of freshwater buoyancy was not apparent to me at the time and I'm sure most everybody else; exhaustion came quick and the drownings commenced.
posted by otto42 at 6:44 AM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Julie Klausner talked about Action Park on How Was Your Week a few weeks ago. Also, I got a shoutout at the end for reasons having nothing to do with Action Park.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:08 AM on September 29, 2013

Grew up on the west coast but spent all my childhood summers with family in Jersey. We always wanted to go to Action Park, but never got to go.

Why? Because we happened to live near stupid-ass Bowcraft on Route 22. All of our explanations that this other Amusement park further away was much better tended to fall on deaf ears.

The commercials for action park did inspire some wickedly dangerous backyard activities. Mostly involving a kiddy pool, a lawn sprinkler and jumping off of the shed.
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:00 PM on September 29, 2013

I loved Traction Park! If you did it right, meaning you were young and athletic and stupid, you could catch ridiculous air on Surf Hill and not hit the ground again til you were just about at the barriers.

Also bears mentioning, the water in the cliff dive pool was generally pretty cool, which gave a double whammy on impact, necessitating no paltry number of assists and rescues buy the harried guard staff.
posted by Mister_A at 8:14 AM on September 30, 2013

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