"Action Park" documentary

GooDFeLLoW's avatar

I am suuuuuuuper excited for HBO's new doc on Action Park, which is dropping on this Thursday 8/27. It's called "Class Action Park" and here's the new trailer:

I've always been super fascinated with this park. The account "Defunctland" on Youtube did a really good short doc on the park a few years ago, .

It looks like the HBO doc is going to be super extra and sensational, focusing on the deaths and drownings and electrocutions and maimings, and I am here for it!!

Did anyone here actually have the pleasure of going to this park ever? Original years were '78 - '96, and then reopened and rebranded in 1998. Curious if anyone has any personal stories from this amazing lawless park...

There's a new book out recently too that I'm about halfway through, written by one of the sons of the original owner and developer. It covers some new ground (and is pretty funny), once you get past the treaded injury hyperbole narrative.

Take away thus far seems to be Action Park was quite breakthrough (intensity aside, waterparks in general weren't a common thing yet) and the success of their marketing was always a step ahead of their physical infrastructure.

I didn't realize they had a monorail going at one point. I will be interested to see the new doc and put some visuals to it.

I visited the park once a few years ago when they rebranded it Action Park again which lasted one summer, I think. A suprising amount of the old park infrastructure and Waterworld rides (Cannonball, Rope Swing, Colorado River, Mat Slides) is still there, plugging along at a bit more tempered pace.

Last edited by Kstr 737,

It's said that the neighborhood kids usually ran the park, with no care in the world! The park also had some crappy rides anyway that looked more unsafe than Son of Beast

Now, when I was a kid...
There was no such thing as a waterpark, but there were plenty of pools, and spring fed swimmin holes. And chances are they included death defying contraptions. There was a place we used to go that had tall sliding boards, the playground kind with 3 inch sides and a drizzle of water that ran down em. There was a water wheel where you could try to walk and stay on top. There were water bobbers with a ladder up to a crows nest. When you reached the top the weight of the swimmers caused it to dip to the water until they fell out. There were log rolls and lily pads to navigate. Trapeze swings and monkey bars that went out over the water. The whole thing was like an episode of Wipeout and nobody cared if they went home a little bloody.
Now there’s no way in hell.

Clays Park & Resort near Canal Fulton, Ohio has almost every one of the death traps that you mention. So - Way!

We got to see a stream of it last Saturday as part of the online Fantasia Film festival. It's an excellent doc and we loved it. The former staff tell various stories and they have animated segments that go with them which are a lot of fun. There's a sad segment that covers the impact of one of the deaths had on a family which is very moving and grounds things a bit. But the doc is incredibly entertaining and the history of the man that started it is fascinating.

The segment where they cover the first aid treatment of the alpine slide burns is absolutely hysterical.

hambone's avatar

@RCMAC you could be describing Eckel's Lake which was north of Columbus near Delaware, Ohio. An old quarry with every manner of injury causing device. I've long wanted to go to Action Park (now "Mountain Creek") to relive some of those memories, although at my current age I might not be quite as resilient.

It was Eckel’s Lake. We went there all the time. Mt Air pool had a couple of stunts, too.

Last edited by RCMAC,

I watched it today without even knowing today was the release day. It was really good. The only thing I knew of the place was the looping slide and how dangerous the place was. Lots of footage of the water park and the motor park. The scope of the place was crazy. A part of me is sad I never got to go. But the other part of me would never want to touch that place with a 10 foot stick.

Dave Dragon, go Dave Dragon, and the Star Force Five!

I finished the book. It's a really insightful and fun read. (Coasterbuzz book club!) Aside from a few irrelevant detours about the authors own life, it quite nicely tied the story full circle and the ending of the book is a bit moving. Highly reccomended and looking forward to the doc now.

Last edited by Kstr 737,
OhioStater's avatar

Shades said:

Clays Park & Resort near Canal Fulton, Ohio has almost every one of the death traps that you mention. So...

Promoter of fog.

TheMillenniumRider's avatar

I would have given anything to get a ride on the alpine slide or the cannonball loop. I wish I was born 10 years earlier. Documentary was awesome!

GooDFeLLoW's avatar

Wow the doc was a really good watch! I like how they kept the first 75% of the doc really fun and exciting and comical, and then the last portion they really force you to accept the reality of the injuries and deaths that happened. It makes you feel bad that you were rooting for the park, and it really makes you think.

I never realized how much of a crime-lord the owner was, even after doing lots of reading about the park over the last few years. Pretty shocking. They really dug up a lot of footage and photos that haven't been posted before; you get to see a lot more of the park and the after-hours behavior of the staff.

I did feel like a lot of the stories that former-employees told seemed more like urban-legends without any evidence to back them up; probably highly exaggerated. For example, the story of finding a bunch of human teeth stuck in the padding that was causing lacerations on everyone. I mean I guess it could be true but... probably not.

Kstr 737 said:

I finished the book.

I didn't realize this book existed; I will definitely be reading this next.

Last edited by GooDFeLLoW,
jkpark's avatar

Holiday Sands on Rt. 14 Ravenna, Ohio! I really miss those kind of places.

When I was a kid my parents had friends from Salem that we’d visit. I think we’d pass Holiday Sands, and my eyes would be glued to the window.
Was that the place with the tall slide that had a colorful spiral ramp to the top?

Edit: found it!

Last edited by RCMAC,
jkpark's avatar

Yes that’s the place.

hambone's avatar

A piece of Eckel's Lake history just surfaced in the Olentangy River.



TheMillenniumRider said:

I would have given anything to get a ride on the alpine slide or the cannonball loop. I wish I was born 10 years earlier. Documentary was awesome!

There were a bunch in the 70s and 80s still a few alpine slides left around at ski places. That was something they had installed rather than made up. Bromley, VT and Attitash, NH come to mind and are still going.

At Bromont in Quebec, just over the Vermont border, they have both an alpine slide and cannonball slide. Not the loop but the one you high speed fly out of a tube about 10 feet in the air and land in cold water. They used to have more like airtime speed hill with the mats but have been phasing them out for new slides.

We all went to ride the alpine slide they had in Bellefontaine Ohio years ago. I didn’t care for it all that much, it seemed more like a sport than a ride. In other words there were no safety features whatsoever and the rider was truly in control of what happened. And that wasn’t such a bother for me, on the second trip I figured out how to handle that pesky fishtailing, but there were many there that had no business. In fact, one of the guys in our group was going so fast he went over the side and wound up doing cartwheels in the straw. We all ran up the hill to see about him. He was ok, but that was the end of that.
I think Öber Gatlinburg still has one, don’t they?
I’m glad the safer, saner, but just as thrilling mountain coasters have come along and are springing up everywhere.

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