Memories of Action Park


"You know you're from New Jersey," the chain email I receive roughly twice a year keeps telling me, "if you remember Action Park and were seriously injured there." I assume every state has a similar list. Not being from those states, I can't say for sure.

While I don't count myself among the casualties, I was briefly knocked unconscious during a tumultuous tube ride down the Colorado River Rapids. That was in 1995, the second consecutive year we were ejected from the Park. I was merely guilty by association, wandering around in a daze, possibly concussed. On those same Rapids, a friend decided to tackle the Action Park employee monitoring the starting line, taking her down with him.

This seems crazy in retrospect, but Action Park was a lawless place. A place where people drowned in the wave pool on a regular basis. A place that tested a full-loop water slide with crash-test dummies. A place where those crash-test dummies were supposedly dismembered. A place that bought the town of Vernon additional ambulances, to keep up with the volume of injuries.

How many people actually died at Action Park? Ask anyone born in Jersey between 1970 and 1984, and you'll hear a ranging toll. Twenty. Thirty-six. North of 100. But the real answer is only six. Let's review:

In 1980, a 19-year-old park employee was killed on the alpine slide. His car jumped the track and his head struck a rock. * In 1982, a 15-year-old boy drowned in the Wave Pool. * A week later, a 27-year-old man from Long Island was electrocuted after falling out of his kayak on The Kayak Experience. * In 1984, a man died of a heart attack supposedly caused by cold water in the pool beneath the Tarzan Swing (the drained Tarzan Swing pool is pictured above, courtesy of Abandoned But Not Forgotten.) * Later that year, an 18-year-old from Brooklyn drowned in the Wave Pool. * In 1987, another 18-year-old drowned in the Wave Pool.

Action Park shut its doors in 1996, and has since reopened as Mountain Creek Waterpark, with an increased emphasis on safety. So far, no deaths have been reported.

I realize this is a pretty narrow topic. But if anyone has any good Action Park stories, we'd love to hear them.