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

Bakeman31092's avatar

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?

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.

tall and fast but not much upside down

Bakeman31092's avatar

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.

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

tall and fast but not much upside down

I grew up going to this water park as a kid in the early 2000’s. It still seemed somewhat dangerous during this time and you would get beat up on some of the rides. Many of the original rides from the 80’s still exist there to this very day including several of the slides that dump you into icy cold pools filled with water from a gorge. Watch the Defunctland video on YouTube to learn more about this awesome place.

This amusement park is set at the bottom of a ski resort, Mountain Creek which was previously called Vernon Valley. One very dangerous ride was the mountain coaster/tobaggon that sent you down the steep mountains on a cart with a hand held brake. People would fly off regularly and one person was killed.

Check it out if you’re in the area, it’s an amazing water park to this day and very unique.

Last edited by Sean Emory,

Sean Emory said:

One very dangerous ride was the mountain coaster/tobaggon that sent you down the steep mountains on a cart with a hand held brake. People would fly off regularly and one person was killed..

You can actually still ride these at summer operations at a few ski resorts, they're called Alpine Slides. The older tracks they had at Action Park looked and felt like concrete, but were actually made of asbestos. They allowed for a lot of speed but if lost your balance in the turns you'd get awful road rash some of the places called "slide bites". Many of places have been replacing the track with a newer stock that is less abrasive so wipe outs aren't as bad, but you can't quite get the speed of the old track.Here's one still operating in New Hampshire:

Ah, good old Traction Park.

Class Action Park.

Fracture Park.

Any other nicknames out there for this place? These were the 3 I heard growing up nearby.

"You seem healthy. So much for voodoo."

LostKause's avatar

The Johnny Knoxville movie Action Point is available on Hulu now, for those of you interested. I have yet to watch it, but it's in my queue.

Good to know. Thanks LostKause.

tall and fast but not much upside down

For anyone looking to revisit a couple of the old Action Park attractions, I've encountered a few that still remain at older waterparks in Quebec. Bromont, which is located about halfway between the Vermont border and Montreal has a single tube version of the Cannonball Slide called the Elephant's Trunk. Same concept, you fly out of a short, steep tube and drop several feet into an ice cold, deep pool. They also use this pool for a Tarzan swing with bleachers set up for spectators. They also have the last operating Alpine Slide in Canada.

Last summer we visited Mont St Sauveur waterpark, which is north of Montreal. They seem to have replaced a lot of their old slides with modern ones, but still have a Colorado River. The Action Park version was apparently widened and softened up when it was reopened as Mountain Creek. This ride in Quebec as you can see from someone's gopro video below is really intense. We both took in a lot of water and had scrapes and bruises after and couldn't quite figure out how it's currently insured.

Vater's avatar

Holy CRAP. That mountain slide thing looks absolutely brutal, in the best way. I was exhausted just watching it.

Dale K's avatar

No way in hell would I be the one sitting backwards on that thing.

Dale K said:

No way in hell would I be the one sitting backwards on that thing.

You couldn't see much of the ride until you're on it, but near the top we heard some pretty terrified screaming coming from the track which is pretty deep in the woods. My partner was a bit anxious so I offered to go backwards. At about the :50 mark you can see they stall and almost turn around. We flipped around and he was backwards for the rest of it. We were both totally freaked out by this point and to help him I would call out "ok here comes a big one hang on!". The other issue is you get totally pummeled by the other person's feet in the rough parts.

That ride looks... bouncy....

Schwarzkopf76's avatar

LostKause said:

The Johnny Knoxville movie Action Point is available on Hulu now, for those of you interested. I have yet to watch it, but it's in my queue.

Unfortunately, the movie kinda sucks. I waited a long time for that to come out, then could barely make it to the end of the movie. Couple funny parts, but it tried too hard and most of it falls flat. And I usually love Johnny Knoxville movies.

Tommytheduck's avatar

That raft slide looks horrible! The backwards rider looks to be almost tossed out many times, but they are laughing. Then when she does get tossed out and hits her head, you hear her crying "OW" and for the rest of the ride she is only hanging on and wishing for it to end.

You can see it in her face and body language when she exits the raft at the end.

LostKause's avatar

I finally watched Action Point a few days ago, and I didn't love it, but it was fine. It had a few really funny slapstick Jackass moments that integrated well into the story. It had a few sweet interactions between the grandpa and granddaughter and father and daughter.

Not great, but with my fandom of amusement parks, I found it interesting enough to keep watching. I've always dreamed of what it would be like to own a park, so maybe that''s something that made the movie tolerable for me.

HAHA.. Traction Park,

I left some DNA on those Alpine Slides. That level of sketchiness will never happen again in this day and age.

Tommytheduck's avatar

There's a new documentary called 'Class Action Park" or something very similar that is making its way through the festival circuit now. It should be released sometime in 2020. Not sure on what platform, streaming, theaters, etc.

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