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5 Of The Craziest Stories About New Jersey's Infamous Action Park

Jul 25, 2023Jul 25, 2023

Buckle up, documentary fanatics and thrill seekers. HBO Max's upcoming documentary, Class Action Park, focuses on the infamous water park Action Park. It opened in 1978, and during its prime in the 1980s, the park had the reputation of being the world's most dangerous amusement park, but still drew countless visitors every summer. Park attendees claimed during the documentary's trailer that fake insurance, underage drinking and lack of consideration for safety were to blame for Action Park's demise.

The documentary features never-before-seen footage of the grisly park. "Shirking the trappings of nostalgia, the film uses investigative journalism, newly unearthed and never-before-seen documents and recordings, original animations, and interviews with the people who lived it to reveal the shocking true story for the first time," the website for the film read.

The park's owner, Gene Mulvihill, joked that he was the "Walt Disney of New Jersey" for his amusement park that flirted with death. Mulvihill passed away in 2012.

His son, Andy, recently told the Washington Post that Gene "didn't think he did anything wrong. "He thought he had a clever way of reducing his cost for insurance [but was] sloppy in the way he executed it. I can tell you, he did not stay awake at night worrying about lawsuits. My dad was not a worrier, he was a doer," he insisted in a July 1 article, where he promoted his book, Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America's Most Dangerous Amusement Park.

Action Park closed in 1996 after 18 years in operation. Where the park used to stand is a new waterpark called Mountain Creek. In 2014, Mountain Creek was renamed Action Park, but the rebranding was short-lived.

Here are five of the craziest things that happened at the park.

There were countless injuries at the park, and six people died there, which Mulvihill brushed off as "statistically insignificant."

A 19-year-old park employee died when their cart on the high-speed Alpine Slide in 1980, which was made of concrete and fiberglass. When a malefaction caused the sled to not turn correctly, the employee's head hit a rock. He died eight days later due to the fatal injury, according to Sometimes Interesting. Anyone who wished to ride it needed to take a ski lift in order to reach the top.

In 1982, a 27-year-old man was electrocuted on the Kayak Experience ride. When he was tipped from his boat, his foot hit a metal grating that was exposed to a live wire. Even though the New Jersey Labor Department investigated the incident and ruled that no safety regulations were violated, the Kayak Experience was soon shut down.

According to AVClub, three people died in the Tidal Wave Pool over the span of five years—a 15-year-old in 1982, a 20-year-old in 1984, and an 18-year-old in 1987. Folks eventually started calling it the "Grave Pool." The state classified it as a swimming pool and not a ride, which meant that the only regulations it needed to maintain were clean water and lifeguards were standing by.

In 1984, a visitor suffered from a fatal heart attack when on the Tarzan Swing ride. The ride consisted of a 30-foot long swinging cable where guests could ride and jump into frigid water below.

The infamous water slide was only open for a month in the summer of 1985. Rumor has it that the test dummy that went down the slide came out with no head, claimed.

The Washington Post reported that riders lost teeth, and the teeth became lodged in the loop. "Two riders emerged with abrasions caused by scraping against the embedded teeth at brain-sloshing speed," the outlet noted. It was ultimately shut down by the New Jersey Carnival Amusement Ride Safety Advisory Board, according to Gizmodo.

According to, the Motorworld part of the park was swampy. Snake, fish, and snapping turtles were found in the murky water. The snakes, however, didn't bother anyone, first aid employee Chris Ish claimed.

According to an emergency room doctor at a nearby hospital, they admitted "five to ten people" daily from Action Park, Sometimes Interesting reported. Injuries included ankle sprains, broken bones, and cuts and contusions, dislocations and concussions. The town of Vernon, New Jersey ultimately purchased more ambulances due to these incidents.

Since Action Park was one of the first water parks ever, many of the rides went untested before they opened to the public. It appeared that without a real understanding of physics and engineering, the rides built didn't abide by the laws of nature, as per AVClub. The park also didn't hire proper maintenance workers, and had inexperienced teenagers running the rides instead.

The park also sold beer and didn't seem to enforce anything to prevent underage drinking, or cut anyone off.

Class Action Park will premiere this August on HBO Max.

Six people died at Action Park Teeth were lost in the Cannonball Loop, a 360-degree water slide One part of the water park was infested with snakes There were over 100 injuries during the summer of 1987 alone Many ride designs went untested