Remembering Action Park, America's Most Dangerous, Daring Water Park

Wednesday, July 3, 2019 10:23 AM

I stumbled across this article at Sports Illustrated about a place I never knew existed: Action Park in Vernon, NJ. I found it to be pretty fascinating, as it offered a peak into a bygone era, as well as a bygone attitude. Apparently, this place had earned a reputation for being a legitimately dangerous water park (6 people are known to have died there in the 80's), yet this was actually part of its appeal. A water slide with a vertical loop at the bottom; a wave pool that could generate 3-foot high waves in deep water, resulting in dozens of people a day having to be rescued by lifeguards; a rope swing that dumped you into an icy spring-fed pool. Sounds crazy, and kind of fun.

Reading through the article made me think about my own parenting practices. I would probably never let my kids go to a place like this, but I do appreciate the toughness and grit that pushing the boundaries and getting a little dinged up can instill in a young person, and I think we lose something when we never let our kids venture out on their own and take some risks. My gut reaction whenever I see my daughter climbing a tree, holding on precariously to a branch that doesn't quite look strong enough, is to run over and help her down. It's an understandable reaction, because of course I don't want my daughter to get hurt. But I honestly try to resist this urge as much as possible. Is getting hurt really a bad thing, as long as it's not permanent or deadly?

I fell out of my tree house when I was a little kid, which split my heel open pretty good, requiring 16 stitches (yes, I still remember the number). I rolled my ankle numerous times playing basketball. I took plenty of hard falls while wakeboarding. Did all of this turn me into Rambo? Certainly not. But I'm also not a wad of mush, and I worry that kids that spend more and more time on their tablets (under the watchful eye of their parents) and less and less time running around outside, skinning their knees up when they fall off their bikes, will be less equipped to handle real life once they fly the coop.

Anyway, Action Park. Any CB veterans that lived in New Jersey have memories of this place?

Wednesday, July 3, 2019 10:49 AM

There's a great documentary (with a similar title) that you can watch on YouTube. Defunctland also produced a piece about this park on his youtube channel. And, a feature length film was released last year that was loosely based on the park's history.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019 11:09 AM

Is the film you're referring to the one with Johnny Knoxville? The article talks about that one. I guess he got pretty beat up during filming.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019 11:51 AM

Yes, that's the feature length film that I was talking about.


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