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Traction Park, redux
July 8, 2014 1:04 PM   Subscribe

The World's Most Dangerous Amusement Park Opens Its Gates Again: (Class) Action Park, perennial MetaFilter favorite, is back in business!

previously on MeFi:
(2008) Traction Park
(2012) Traction Park Memories
(2013) The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever
(2014) There's Nothing In The World Like Action Park


NY Post: The dangerous return of the world’s most insane theme park
...it wasn’t until an online documentary about the old Action Park — titled “The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever” — went viral last year that the owners realized: Not only do people remember the old park, which drew a million visitors annually at its prime; they miss it.

“The overall conclusion that the people who went to Action Park have is that it was a phenomenal place,” says Andy Mulvihill, who now owns the resort and is the son of the park’s founder Gene Mulvihill, who died in 2012. “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.”

“Negative things” is putting it lightly... Deaths were caused by, among other things, electrocution in a kayak ride, drowning in the wave pool and a heart attack in ice-cold water. The old Alpine Slide seemed to be the biggest culprit for mishaps, frequently shredding skin on its concrete track. People reportedly also hit their heads on the floor of shallow pools, got caught in the terrifying suction of the wave pool and suffered abrasions on their legs after having to crawl out of a water slide tunnel. Broken or fractured bones were common, as were busted teeth.

But nostalgia is a potent drug, and the new Action Park is sticking itself right in the main vein: The name and original retro rainbow-colored signs are back. On Saturday, former employees gathered for a reunion. The gift shop is selling tongue-in-cheek “I Survived Action Park” T-shirts... the new version of the park isn’t passive... Flop the wrong way off the Cliff Jump, and you could end up with bruises all over your legs. The Colorado River ride tossed our raft so close to the cave walls, we were thankful we were wearing those goofy helmets. Oh, and they serve booze to patrons, which creates its own sense of adventure for older park goers.

“Great Adventure is Bon Jovi, safe and corporate,” Winnik says. “Action Park was the Ramones.”
NJ.com: Action Park reopens Saturday embracing its ‘Traction Park’ reputation - "Action Park at Mountain Creek is scheduled to open June 14, giving the park back a name it hasn't used in decades. Two days out, staffers had plenty of touching up to do, but found time to test a new idea: a water-powered jetpack."

NY Daily News: Daily News intern survives Action Park's ZERO-G water slide (VIDEO) - "The revamped Action Park in Vernon, N.J. has plenty of new thrills, including the ZERO-G water slide that has a 100-foot drop."

Forbes: Why Having A Dangerous Reputation Can Be Good For Business - "It’s human to root for the rebel, the outlaw, the rulebreaker. Action Park and its iconoclast founder [...] pushed boundaries and broke rules. Today, the park could try to distance itself from this history, or could embrace its reputation as the outlaw antihero. They wisely chose the latter."
posted by flex (56 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd like to wish the members of the New Jersey Bar Association the best of luck in their upcoming suits.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:09 PM on July 8 [32 favorites]


Oh, and Andy? Repeatedly causing injury to others (including children!) due to your family's gross negligence and incompetence isn't something to be proud of, you moron.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:11 PM on July 8 [4 favorites]


I swear their restaurant should be called Snaction Park and, if it's not, then what are we even doing here?
posted by inturnaround at 1:11 PM on July 8 [35 favorites]


I went to a water park last year that felt like it had given up entirely on safety standards and served alcohol. It was a lot of (very terrifying) fun but I do not plan to go back as I value my life more than a waterslide.
posted by jeather at 1:12 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Time flies as a crow flies in a straight line
posted by jeremy b at 1:12 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


I'd like to wish the members of the New Jersey Bar Association the best of luck in their upcoming suits.

No danger of that, it seems:

Although many of the original rides are still in place, we now live in a time when insurance companies, regulators and common sense have conspired to make sure nothing like the original Action Park ever exists again.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:12 PM on July 8


Yeah, it's just a nameplate change - the Mountain Creek crew is still running the show, so the grownups are in charge.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:15 PM on July 8


In somewhat related news, that crazy-stupid new water slide at the Kansas City Schlitterbahn recently had its first human test ride.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:23 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I value my life more than a waterslide.

The moment you made this realization is the moment you Became Old.
posted by aramaic at 1:25 PM on July 8 [29 favorites]


Obligatory
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:31 PM on July 8 [4 favorites]


aramaic: Did you ever see the sort of contraptions that the old Action Park had? My favorite was the slide that was basically a large repurchased wheeled conveyor which you slid down on a sled that would then skim along the runout pool.

You didn’t have to be old to avoid that - just possess a healthy sense of self-preservation.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:31 PM on July 8


So it's not an abruisement park anymore? No more trips to dizzyland? No more vacation in dis location? No more nefarious wheel?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:32 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Everything I've heard about traction park makes me think it's like one of those halloween houses except that the bowl isn't all grapes, there are some eye balls and that guy with the chainsaw may actually slice your leg open.
posted by sio42 at 1:33 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Damn you, Joey Michaels, for beating me to the DEVASTATOR!!!! punch. "I ain't afraid of no rolly-coaster!"
posted by scody at 1:34 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, upon reading this, my teenage years screamed "THANK GOD."
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:34 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


In somewhat related news, that crazy-stupid new water slide at the Kansas City Schlitterbahn recently had its first human test ride.

Watch the raw POV footage at the bottom - that's why I always strip the sound from test videos. Invariably there will be cursing.
posted by muddgirl at 1:36 PM on July 8


the park’s founder Gene Mulvihill, who died in 2012
On which ride?
posted by Flunkie at 1:38 PM on July 8 [55 favorites]


Everything I've heard about traction park makes me think it's like one of those halloween houses except that the bowl isn't all grapes, there are some eye balls and that guy with the chainsaw may actually slice your leg open.
There was no guy with a chainsaw. It was more like several unleashed ferrets with miniature chainsaws strapped to them.
posted by Flunkie at 1:40 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


It was more like several unleashed ferrets with miniature chainsaws strapped to them.

Everyone of which was aimed directly at your knees and shins.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:41 PM on July 8


FUCK YEAH: ROAD TRIP. I CALL SHOTGUN.
"all of the thrills and none of the spills."
DAMN, THAT RIPS IT: NO LOOP-DE-LOOP WATERSLIDE, I'M OUT.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:41 PM on July 8


The moment you made this realization is the moment you Became Old.

I still go on rides. I just prefer ones that seem to follow minimal safety standards, or that have lifeguards available at the parts where you are likely to hurt yourself, or care when you are flipped off your tube and pulled underwater and can't get back up because there are too many people on the surface of the water. I have not been to the amusement park in the post, but it reminded me of this water park so much.

(But I am pretty much Old, yeah.)
posted by jeather at 1:42 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


a large repurchased wheeled conveyor which you slid down on a sled that would then skim along the runout pool.

This was the "Aqua Scoot" and it was actually rather safe.

http://www.sky-chaser.com/image/coasters/apkkama1.jpg
posted by jeremy b at 1:47 PM on July 8


In somewhat related news, that crazy-stupid new water slide at the Kansas City Schlitterbahn recently had its first human test ride.


And airborne on the dummy run.
posted by LionIndex at 1:47 PM on July 8


The moment you made this realization is the moment you Became Old.

For me it was aging out of the Gravitron.
posted by whuppy at 1:48 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


jeremy b: "Time flies as a crow flies in a straight line"

Fruit flies like a banana.
posted by Splunge at 1:53 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Hey, let me be clear, I too Became Old.

In my case one day things just sort of snapped into clarity and I found myself thinking "hmm, this guy has a hyena on a gold chain. Maybe I should just go back to the hotel and go to sleep, then tomorrow move to a nicer hotel and possibly leave the country sooner than expected."

...but still, let's be honest, it's true. The moment you find yourself trading fun for longevity? Old.
posted by aramaic at 1:54 PM on July 8


Related: The Verrückt has had its first human riders.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:54 PM on July 8


Yeah I knew I was an antique when someone asked me if I wanted to go to Six Flags and my reaction was "Why would I want to stand in line for an hour in the heat with a bunch of screaming kids for something that lasts 2 minutes?"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:55 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


Whoops, looks like mudpuppie beat me to it. Should have searched in the page for "crazy stupid water slide"
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:55 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Verrückt is German for "Fuck That"
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:56 PM on July 8 [11 favorites]


For me it was aging out of the Gravitron.

Surely that's not a thing. Gravitron forever!

Though I do know some people who won't ride those because they had a bad experience once with a vomiting passenger and a ride operator who refused to stop the ride.
posted by asperity at 1:58 PM on July 8


The moment you made this realization is the moment you Became Old.

I was born old.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:14 PM on July 8 [9 favorites]


Though I do know some people who won't ride those because they had a bad experience once with a vomiting passenger and a ride operator who refused to stop the ride.

Those people just don't understand that the Gravitron is the carny version of roulette.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:17 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Yeah, my thought on hearing that story was that if I'd been the ride operator I'd totally have kept on going for lulz, because I'm gonna have to clean it up anyway, right?

It's probably for the best that in spite of the large number of weird jobs I've held, I've never done carnival work.
posted by asperity at 2:20 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Gravitrons these days don't let you go upside-down. LAME.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:20 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


grumpybear69: whaaaaaaat??? ok that's it I've officially lived too long. :(
posted by lonefrontranger at 2:22 PM on July 8


Up, the unmanned ride of the Schlitterbahn involved the raft FLYING OFF OF THE TRACK AND SMASHING ONTO THE GROUND?!?

Might be time to change my labor day plans...
posted by craven_morhead at 2:24 PM on July 8 [4 favorites]


"Action Park: Now With Ebola!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:25 PM on July 8


“Action Park was the Ramones.”

To steal a line from my cousin: No, it was GG Allin.
posted by Opposite George at 2:29 PM on July 8 [8 favorites]


“Action Park was the Ramones.”

To steal a line from my cousin: No, it was GG Allin.


Shellac!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 2:34 PM on July 8


See, I never understood the appeal of water parks because not only are you doing all the line standing and adrenaline-response triggering and nausea induction of your normal, run of the mill theme park experience, but you are doing all of these things while more-or-less naked.

That said, reading the Action Park wiki page was just as strangely satisfying as this old Reddit thread about Disney employee experiences. Forget Schlitterban, I'm taking my next vacation at Schadenfreudeparke....
posted by theweasel at 2:51 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


I wish that i was a jet setting rich kid, because i would take all my friends and go to this place for a weekend and just get totally hammered and ride all the rides.

I know it would probably result in "Here lies emptythought, he died doing what he loved, screaming like bart simpson".

But god dammit, it would be worth it.

FUCK YEAH: ROAD TRIP. I CALL SHOTGUN.
"all of the thrills and none of the spills."


Jesus, can nothing stay cool long enough for me to actually get there?
posted by emptythought at 2:51 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


Action Park was nature's most perfect killing machine... and it couldn't be stopped with soap.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:04 PM on July 8 [4 favorites]


You know this is authentically New Jersey because someone in 2014 used Jon Bon Jovi as a reference point.
posted by The Whelk at 3:06 PM on July 8 [11 favorites]


I had forgotten how much I love the idea of waterparks. The idea of waterparks.
Not the reality of them. Watching that video made me instantly remember all the pain, bruises, scraps, and general nastiness of going to a waterpark as a kid. It never failed that everybody in the party left each trip with some sort of injury.
It's the 21st century, and yet waterparks are still made out of concrete, hard plastic and other dangerous things. Why can't they be made out of some magical 21st century material that literally doesn't scrap, jam, bruise, or any other damn thing to the human body.
Something that is a blend of rubber and memory cushion form mattresses.

(Nerf! It's Nerf! Does Nerf have a waterpark, like Lego has a land?)
posted by QueerAngel28 at 3:07 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Joey Michaels: "Action Park was nature's most perfect killing machine... and it couldn't be stopped with soap."

I dunno. It seems kind of doubtful that the crew at Action Park ever had any experience using soap...
posted by schmod at 3:09 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


mcstayinskool: "Verrückt is German for "
'There were no survivors'
posted by boo_radley at 3:11 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


NoxAeternum: "Yeah, it's just a nameplate change - the Mountain Creek crew is still running the show, so the grownups are in charge."

Not quite. In 2010, Mountain Creek (and the Waterpark) were sold back to the same idiots who originally drove the place into the ground in the 1990s.

They get a bit of credibility for replacing the tent complex, and replacing the unbelievably-ancient Southern Sojurn lift... but I'm not sure how much I'd trust them. The scale of the investments that the new owners are making seem to be targeting a quick cash-out.
posted by schmod at 3:12 PM on July 8


it's been like 3 hours why is there no mefi meetup posted
posted by elizardbits at 3:44 PM on July 8 [8 favorites]


I wonder how this will sustain once the initial nostalgia wears off.

Case in point: Long Islanders of a certain age will remember Shoppers Village, an indoor flea market that operated throughout the 80s & 90s, known for being the place where you hung out with friends, stocked up on the latest doodads & geegaws, etc. Faced with growing costs and competition from upper-scale shopping venues, the owners decide to close Shoppers Village and lease the space to a discount chain. The closing of the discount chain about ten years later coincides with the rise of social media, the old Shoppers Village gets its own Facebook page.

After seeing the deluge of comments, the owners decide to give it another go. Old vendors are wooed back, original signage and fixtures are pulled from storage or recreated and the new Shoppers Village is open for business. The crowds are huge, people bringing their kids to see where mom & dad brought their beepers and mc hammer pants from the mythical 90s.

After ten months and dwindling crowds, the Shoppers Village closes again for the final time, unable to sustain repeat business beyond nostalgia seekers.

In short, if Action Park can't deliver the near-death experiences that the nostalgia seekers crave, it won't last long.
posted by dr_dank at 3:51 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


It's New Jersey people. Breathing there is dangerous and most people pull more Gs on the offramps.
posted by srboisvert at 4:01 PM on July 8


As I've mentioned before, I was going to do a documentary on Action Park, which is now cancelled.

There's no fear of Action Park closing - it's been operating just fine; this is just a rebranding, and people who come from the surrounding areas for an amusement park will continue to do so. The landscape hasn't changed much for that. (Quassy in CT, Action Park/Mountain Creek in NJ, Coney Island, Asbury Park).

When I did a quiet research trip for Action Park, it was amusing what had gotten a new coat of paint, and what they'd done to the more dangerous rides (Rope Swing comes to mind) to turn them into gentle little events.
posted by jscott at 4:16 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


Please tell me this water slide is back!
posted by xmutex at 4:37 PM on July 8


I went to a water park last year that felt like it had given up entirely on safety standards and served alcohol.

So, uh, you're keeping us in suspense here, why? Some of us have HSA accounts that need to get spent.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:54 PM on July 8 [9 favorites]


We weren't allowed on anything sketchy-looking because of all the kids my mother had seen either die or get horribly injured in front of her on the playground or at dodgy, poorly-maintained county fairs in the 1950's-60's.

OK, it was only five kids, and only two deaths among them, but that's enough bad accidents to witness in a short span of time during your impressionable years to make a long-lasting scar.

When we'd go to a carnival or a lower-rent amusement park, it was always with Aunt S. and Cousin J., so Aunt S. could watch us all ride and Mom could go cover her eyes or something. But she always cased the midway first and let us know what not to go on no matter what Cousin J. did.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:43 AM on July 9


So, uh, you're keeping us in suspense here, why?

I'd feel guilty killing off other mefites? But have fun!
posted by jeather at 12:50 PM on July 9


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