Action Park, the spectacularly unsafe New Jersey amusement park, was a nightmare. Everyone should know about it. In a beautiful twist of luck, it turns out that the Wikipedia entry for the the park is stunning, a bracing bit of reportage full of black comedy and broken dreams.
That said, it is full of words, lots of words and few pictures. To remedy this, here is an illustrated (though abridged) version of the highly-regarded Wiki entry, using vintage photos and screen grabs from classic commercials to tell the sad and strange tale. Welcome to Action Park.
Action Park was an amusement park, open from 1978 to 1996 in Vernon Township, New Jersey at the former Vernon Valley/Great Gorge ski area, now known as Mountain Creek.
It featured three separate attraction areas: an alpine slide, Motorworld, and Waterworld. The latter-most was one of the first American waterparks. Many of Action Park's attractions were unique, attracting thrill-seekers from across the New York City metro area. The park's popularity went hand in hand with a reputation for poorly designed, unsafe rides; inattentive, underage employees; intoxicated, unprepared visitors; and the consequently poor safety record.
At least six people are known to have died as a result of mishaps on rides at the park. It was given nicknames such as "Traction Park" and "Accident Park," by doctors at nearby hospitals due to the number of severely injured park-goers they treated. Little action was taken by state regulators despite a history of repeat violations. In its later years personal-injury lawsuits forced the closure of more and more rides and finally the park itself in 1996.
Intrawest purchased the property and in 1998, many of the water attractions were reopened as Mountain Creek Waterpark. With a vastly increased emphasis on ride safety, the alpine slide and Motorworld areas were eliminated and some new water attractions were added. In 2010, the whole Mountain Creek ski area and waterpark was sold to a group led by Eugene Mulvihill, the former operator of Great Gorge and Action Park.