It goes without saying that theme parks are normally the epitome of safety. With so many precautions having to be met concerning safety of the rides, training of the employees, safeguards and so forth – in this day and age you would think that you would be safe. However why don’t we scoot back to 1978, to a time when safety was perhaps…’overlooked’… somewhat. Why is the date 1978 important you ask? Well, it’s the year Action Park opened.
Action Park resided in New Jersey, providing adrenaline rushes for drunken teenagers who would travel from far and wide to experience the controversial park for themselves. However, down to poor construction of the rides and young, undertrained & inexperienced employees; Action Park dealt out many the bump, cut, bruise and even six fatalities. With this in mind, you can imagine people have stories of their experiences at the park before it was famously closed in 1996. Here is a selection of some of the best stories from ‘Accident Park’, as named by local hospitals.
The Cannonball Loop
‘I was one of the idiots that accepted you-know-who’s crisp $100 bill to test run it. That was my last ride. $100 did not buy enough booze to drown out that memory.’
That quote was from Tom Fergus, a former Action Park employee. The Cannonball Loop was something of pure genius; punters would walk into the park and be in stuck in awe of the long tube with an intensely tight loop the loop at the end which then plunged you into a pool. Sounds fun right? Well. It may have been, but the spooky thing was the ride was rarely ever open. There were rumours as to why it wasn’t open, varying from heavily injuring a lot of different people in its first month of opening to mangling test dummies beyond the point of recognition before it ever opened.
According to DoD3, a website collating various people’s stories from theme park escapades, someone emailed them with a true rare account of their experience on the ride – which seems pretty earnest. Here it is here.
“The Action Park loop was real and I rode it
I rode the Action Park water loop 2 times on the same day. I could have sworn it was in 1980 with my high school buddies when I was 18, but Wiki says it opened in 1985 so I guess I’m wrong. That would have made me 23 which just doesn’t seem right to me. Anyway, none of my buddies did it. I remember it was the only water slide you just used your body. No rubber mat, raft, inner tube etc which was really unheard of at the time except for the 100 foot freefall water slide.”
As you can see here, perhaps it wasn’t the worst thing the theme park world has ever seen; but it may well be up there. There have to be more dark stories which contributed towards its closed status!
There are different internet forums on the internet which serve as a place to come together and share stories about Action Park. Looking through one internet forum, you can see some great stories. Here is an interesting recollection from user Schizoid2K.
“I loved that place… used to go about 4 or 5 times a year during high school and college.
I’ve also seen and received many injuries as well. One time I was waiting my turn on Surf Hill (the ride where you go down the hill on a mat) and the guy in front of me takes a running start and dives on the hill with his mat. He’s going pretty damn fast, and I thought to myself “Hey I’m gonna do that too!”
Well, he hits the part at the bottom where there is that little bump and is launched into the air and lands into the stank water at the bottom face first. He’s in there for about 20 seconds, face under water, not moving. Finally the ride attendant notices and pulls him out, and they cart him off. Needless to say I didn’t do a running start after that.
A little later I am in the First Aid to get a few bandages after my own Alpine Slide mishap, and I hear a couple of medics standing around a bed. I look over and there is that kid who took the spill, with full neckbrace. One of the medics says “I’m really concerned about the tingling in his arms and legs”… oh boy.
Did that stop me from being an ass on any of the rides? Nope. Business as usual. Sometime I think how truly lucky I was to have escaped with my life. I still have a ankle injury 20 years later… doesn’t hurt, but I can continuously crack it like a ratchet… grosses people out.”
Deaths at Action Park
Action Park received its famous status by having six accidental deaths take place on different rides. Here is a breakdown of the different fatalities, cited throughout stories on the internet (i.e. take with a pinch of salt).
1980 – Young Action Park employee was using the Alpine Slide ride, which involves a car zooming down a hollowed-out track. Unfortunately the car came out of the track and the employee hit his head on a rock, killing him in the process.
1982, 1984, 1987 – 3 different years, 3 different deaths caused by the Wave Pool. All teenage men.
1982 – A man was killed whilst on the ride of the Kayak Experience. Story has it he was electrocuted after falling out of his kayak onto open live wires.
1984 – A man dies in the water beneath the attraction ‘Tarzan Swing’. This was put down to the water being too cold causing a shock to the man’s system, eventing in a heart attack.
In conclusion, theme parks are meant to be fun – thrilling but in a safe environment. Action Park is gone now, probably for the best; but the memories will still live with the people who were lucky/stupid enough to venture there and experience the unadulterated thrills.
Thanks to Chessington Holidays for writing and submitting to us this story – we salute anyone who was brave enough to go through the loop. Do you know anyone who managed to visit action park?