Class Action Park on HBOMax | Most Dangerous Water Park
Class Action Park on HBOMax is a documentary about death-trap amusement park Action Park in Vernon, NJ. The park operated between 1978 and 1996. And daaaaamn, there was a lot of carnage!
Also known as Traction Park and Accident Park, Action Park in New Jersey was the brainchild of 1970’s penny stock hustler Eugene Mulvihill. Mulvihill was known as someone who skirted the law, including setting up a phony shell company to provide bogus liability insurance for the Action Park.
Action Park pushed the limits of self-accountability, giving visitors control of their experience, and of course plenty of alcohol too. Workers were known to be teenagers more interested in getting fucked up and hooking up after hours, than supervising the scene.
Mulvihill, an associate of Trump in the day, shows a lot like the President in the HBOMax documentary. Completely lacking accountability for those injured or killed at the park, and pushing the limits on ways to avoid playing by rules by buying off local officials.
Six deaths occurred at Action Park. The poorly designed, unsupervised, and rowdy Jersey patrons ensured a visit to the park was literally risking your life. The HBOMax covers all these tragedies and other dismemberments on mythical terror rides like Cannonball Loop, Alpine Slide, Colorado River Ride, and Kayak Experience.
But apparently, it was the fucking shit! MTV, Ricky Rachtman, and Alice In Chains even make an appearance in the film. Apparently, MTV hosted Headbanger’s Ball there in the 1980s.
Action Park’s Dangerous Slides and Pools
The Grave Pool and Cannonball Loop; making Class Action Park as one of the world’s most dangerous amusement park.
Tidal Wave Pool was one of the park’s most notable attractions, and it quickly became one of the park’s most dangerous rides. In this “grave pool,” which was filled with freshwater instead of seawater, patrons were less buoyant and were literally in over their heads as waves could reach 40 inches at high tide. On high-traffic weekends, the lifeguards on duty saved, on average, 30 people a day.
The Cannonball Loop
The Cannonball Loop is an enclosed slide built by GAR in 1983. At the time, this was not unusual. It had several slides of this type already. However, in this case, they built a vertical loop at the end, so it would resemble a roller coaster. Employees have reported being offered $100 (equivalent to $241 in 2020) to test the Cannonball Loop slide. According to Fergus, who called himself “one of the idiots” who took the offer, “$100 wasn’t enough to drown out that memory.”
There were more safety measures taken at the Cannonball Loop than usual, according to riders. Riders were weighed, hosed down with cold water, instructed to remove their jewelry, and then instructed in how to position their bodies for the ride. Cannonball Loop was visible by the entrance to Waterworld until the park’s closure. In the days following the park’s closure, it was dismantled.
Growing Up in the ’80
What stood out the most to me while watching the Class Action Park documentary was the reality that the 1980s were a different world.
In the 1980’s growing up didn’t come with a safety net, it barely came with seatbelts. Kids still hopped on their bikes on summer mornings, peddled off to the adventure of the day, and then return before sundown – hopefully.
There were plenty of dangers. Stories would spread of kidnappings and white vans, kids falling down a well like Baby Jessica, getting hit on their bike, and, of course, getting maimed or killed at an amusement park.
80’s Theme Park Commercials
Independent Amusement Parks
I’ve never been to Action Park, but local Massachusetts amusement parks like Lincoln Park and Riverside Park were also known to take a life every summer or two. Let’s just say the safety standards were…lacking.
Nevertheless, did this stop us from wanted to risk it all to hop on a rickety roller coaster with little to no supervision each summer? HELL NO!
We’d hit these parks multiple times during our time off from school. Young teenagers learning how to face our fears during the day, and then learning what it meant to be a “cool kid” from IROC-Z driving high schoolers arriving half-buzzed at sun down.
Was it Worth It?
In an era of participation trophies and safety helmets, the 1980’s certainly helped with mental fortitude for some (and mental issues for others). I mean it’s not like we set out to grow up in these high-risk situations as a way to form our identity. We had no choice!
Riding in the back of pickup trucks, burning old Christmas trees in the woods for a night of drinking by the fire, riding your bike on the highway, jumping out of the second-story window of Fort Adams in Newport when being chased by cops…I mean, who HASN’T done this shit?
Every flip over the handlebars was a badge of honor. Touchdowns only counted if you were playing on concrete. And if your friends did it, well, you were at least going to have to act like you were going to.
Thinking through the consequences wasn’t a choice. You just did. Peer pressure from online trolls? Shit, in the ‘80s, trolls were other kids in your face if you chickened out yelling “You Fuckin’ P-ssy!” for half the school year
The HBOMax documentary highlights crowds of New York and New Jersey spectators waiting for waivering kids to chicken out or mess up a cliff dive, in order to mock them relentlessly.
Action Park Deaths
At least six people have died after mishaps at the park, which was nicknamed “Traction Park”, “Accident Park”, and “Class Action Park”. Although the park has repeatedly violated state laws, little effort has been made by regulators to address those problems.
Class Action Park on HBOMax is worth the watch. Of course, the deaths at the park bring a cold dose of reality to the documentary. However, the film does a good job balancing the nostalgia of growing up in the crazy ‘80s and the reality that it wasn’t all hair-spray and arcades.
Featured former Action Park guest, Chris Gethard, probably sums it up best, “We felt like we were on our own, we felt like the world was an unsafe place. But it’s what we got – so fuck you.”