Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Action Park: World's Most Threatening Waterslide Park

If all goes well, above you will see first-hand one of the greatest myths of a North Jersey childhood: the infamous and legendary loop-de-loop waterslide of Action Park.

Action Park was located in Vernon, NJ -- considered "the mountains" by us kids from the more urbanized area outside Newark.

I have gone to Action Park twice, escaping injury both times, considered by most to be a miracle. (The second time was for one of the first Warped Tour concerts. Ick.) It was sued countless times for the dazzling amount of bloodshed and carnage it caused (which can be verified at this webpage detailing a list of deaths at amusement parks Deaths At Action Park and, unfortunately, went under and later was re-opened as Mountain Creek.

For a brief period in my childhood, I was an altar boy. (I left this un-molested.) The annual Our Lady of Lourdes Altar Boy was to Action Park, annually I would ask my mom to go, annually she would resoundingly say no, having heard of the legendary rumors of the perhaps dozens killed.

The upside-down waterslide posted above is a shrine to a North Jersey childhood -- it's a totem pole of sorts. Anyone who truly knew what it was like to be ALIVE knew of its existence. No one has actually ever gone down that thing, as it was never open. The two popular myths surrounding it a) the first person who came down the waterslide drowned when he was stuck at the bottom and b) an alleged "test dummy" was sent down and came out decapitated. No matter -- it is just a true testament to the human spirit of what man is capable of doing. The people at Action Park actually believed -- to the point where they spent thousands of dollars in fiberglass costs -- they could defy every known rule of gravity and physics.

Other great Action Park memories:

1) State Road 94 ran through the middle of the park. Meaning there were only two ways to get to either side of Action Park -- either by running across a major state highway or by taking a train over a bridge to get to the other side. On an altar boy trip I wasn't allowed to go on, childhood friends Kevin Gallagher and Dave Kearns were riding the train on the bridge when it suddenly burst into flames. Dave escaped unharmed, Kevin was caught on the bridge, suffered a 1st degree burn and then fractured an ankle leaping off the bridge to safety.

2) The Alpine Slides. The alpine slides are essentially go-karts that go down the side of a mountain. To get to the top of the mountain, you have to take a ski-lift. Once at the top of the lift, the pothead teenagers working at Action Park would show you graphic pictures of Alpine Slide victims missing entire sections of their stomachs. However, there was no way down the mountain once off the ski-lift -- you HAD to go down the Alpine Slides. Many were injured on these rickety vehicles equipped with rusty braking systems.

3)The park was laid out on a mountain, meaning that no matter what direction you went, you had to walk up a hill at 70 degree angles.

4) Being a waterpark, many go shoeless at Action Park. However, the walking grounds at Action Park were laid out with black, rocky asphalt -- in summer months, the heat would blister your feet if you stood flat-foot more than 3 seconds.

5) The ride where nine people ride in a single tube had tree branches and sharp ledges throughout it, causing many bloody noses and concussions along the way.

6) The undertow of the wave pool was so fierce, it was like a scene out of Indiana Jones.

7) French-Canadian men in speedos.

God, I miss that place.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds like the happiest place on earth. Screw Disney.


9:48 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

It's amazing more deaths didn't occur at Action Park. I was never there though. I was, is and will always be a Sesame Place kinda girl.:)

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having worked there for 10 years, though high school and college, I can say there was NO place like Action Park. The inmates ran the asylum and all the employees would agree it was all a wild ride.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went there many times a year when I was a little girl with my family. We'd buy seasonal passes for 7 people a year knowing about the danger at Action Park. My brothers, myself and even my father got injured a bunch of times. I almost drown 3 times... I too could've been another kid that died at the dreadful tidal wave. I also remember that waterslide that was never finished. That picture brings back a lot of memories. I remember people talking about the myths every time my family and I would walk pass it. I'd ask my mom when we could go down the slide and she said, "I don't think it'll be open... unless you want to come out dead." Hearing people scream at that one chill-out pool and yes, even the tidal wave because people would drown. There weren't enough lifeguards... also the fact that place was always so crowded. The tidal wave looked like it had over a thousand people in it. I won't ever forget that one time we went... A professional swimmer even died in the tidal wave. It seemed pretty normal after a while, though... for people to die, that is. There's never going to be another waterslide park like Death Park .. I mean, Action Park.

Regardless of all that... I haven't lived in New York for 10 years now and I should be visiting this summer. I'm going over there to see my city and of course... see what Mountain Creek is all about. I heard it's not the same as before... (they meant the risking fun) I miss Action Park. lol


11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember doing the cliff diving and always forgetting to point my toes. It would always feel as though I broke both feet afterwards.

I must have come close to drowning in that wave pool every time I went in it. You knew you were better off staying out of it but you went in nonetheless.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rode the Loop Dee Loop Ride! I swear the god I did! I remember it clearly after years of near death experiences as a kid. It was the Summer of 1995. My NJ buddy was in shock seeing it open. It was the same summer they had Bungee Jumping free of charge (used to be $5) and the new $5 Slingshot ride. Anyway my friend and I RAN to experience the LoopDeLoop slide where the urban legends of a fat guy getting stuck and drowning lingered in our mind. They first weighed you on a scale. Our 3rd fat friend couldn't go on. They then told us to take off all watches and jewelry (fear I guess of getting caught on a rough edge or seam in the rube). Weirdly nobody who saw the ride dared even go on it as spectators gathered and watched for afar. A group of 5 of us stood shivering on the upper platform of the tube as they sprayed us down wet with a garden hose. Then they gave instructions... we had to cross our ankles, lay on your back, and go feet first. "Can I go head first!?" shouted one eager guy. "'ll die" said the action park reaper. "Keep your chin down into your chest and hands behind your head....or you'll bite your tongue off" *silence*. One guy backed away... All I can say is it was scary, dark, cold, and dizzying. It thrashed you around in the coldness and then you came out into the blinding sun, you couldn't even stand up straight and you lost all sense of balance. I fell down again. Although I will never ever go on it again....I am glad I survivied to tell people I did.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sitting here laughing b/c all these stories of this park are so true! Who ever constructed this park must of been crazy. I was thinking of going this year but now that it's Mountain Creek I'm not sure what it would be like and if it's even worth it.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to Action Park for a class trip. I must have been 12 or 13. That would make it 1982. Somebody said that someone broke their spine and died on that ride and it has been closed since. What's the real story? Has anybody else TRUELY gone down that slide. I would love to find out

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was one of the few that went on the loop slide. First they weighed you then they sprayed you with the hose. It felt like it broke your back when you went down. I try and tell people about the famous Action Park and no one belives the things that were allowed to go on there. I have been going to the water park for 10 yrs and go every summer!

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Wow, talk about a blast from the past. I remember going as a kid with my dad and his girlfriend. I must have been around 13 or 14. I remember they wouldn't let me on the speedboats because I didn't have a driver's liscense. Then there was this slide. It was a long straight run and you sat on a plastic sled. The slide itself wasn't filled with water, but instead had those rollers you see at butcher shops to roll heavy pieces of meat! I got so nervous waiting to go down as I stood up at the top, that I got hives and chickened out. So I never had a chance to ride the meat rollers.

A year or so later, I remember going to the place with some childhood friends. I rode that alpine slide in an attempt to catch up to my buddy ahead and give him a good ol' fashion bump...unfortunately I was too fast and actually lost control, fell off and gave my self a beautiful rasberry all on my upper thigh. At least I was intelligent enough to scramble back on the sled and get moving again before the next nut came down and crashed into me. Wasn't there also a dip that if you went fast enough and were not like the typical fat bastards at amusement parks you could catch a bit of air?

One of the last memories was of my stepfather who is still an attorney. I remember him telling us all at dinner he was working on a case (not sure if he was a defendant or plantiff) of some kid that became wedged in the "cannonball slide" that ran underground, drowned, and expired. He would continue telling how the park was always getting sued. There was even an event where someone drowned in the Tidal Wave Pool, aka Tsunami of Death.

Finally, the picture of the loop-de-loop slide is what brought me to this site. I still remember wondering, what would happen if you didn't make it up the loop and were just stuck at the bottom? Where did the water go? How did you get out?

Now that it is under new management, I am sure the "meat roller" slide is out....and I will never concur my childhood fears. Damn those Attorney's!

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was one of the very few. It indeed was 1995, the year they let anypne with a Yankee Stadium ticket stub in free. We'd go to a game gather 100 or so used tickets from fans, and sell them at the gate for $10 before going in.

The slide had a hatch to let people out. I never saw it open before 1995. I remember the worker with the hose and a weight limit that was say between 140-170

I remember we used to jump on the rides frpm the bushes , jump on girls tubes, rig thego-karts in motorworld to go 55, but this was one ride I followed the instructions to the letter.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the Tarzan Swing? You stood on a ledge 10 feet over a freezing cold mountain pond, and you had to reach way out over the edge to grab a hold of the handle. I remember standing on the line and watching everyone else trying to swing. Probably 10% of the people were too short and fell straight down off the ledge just trying to grab the handle. Another 10% lost their grip on the downswing and ate it right away. Another 20% of people forgot to pull their knees up to their chest, causing their feet to drag through the water and yank them mercilessly from the swing handle. I miss Action Park.

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 26, and just yesterday went to Mountain Creek with my friend Uri. Mountain Creek is a waterpark in Vernon, NJ, on the site formerly known as "Action Park." Action Park was one of the first water parks in the nation (built in the late 70s as a source of summer revenue for the winter skiing resort there). It became known as "Traction Park" because of the many injuries (and yes, deaths) that spawned from it. It's still a *very* fun park, but it's no Action Park. Action Park was absolutely amazing. I used to go in the summer with friends or camp. It was different than any other water park around, because, well - it was one of the first, so it had no "prototype." All other parks are pretty much identical (all those beige slides, tube rides and clear-blue pipe-rides, etc), but AC was built on the side of a mountain, with the rides in between boulders, trees, etc. Here are some memories, and changes from AC vs. MC:

Colorado River: it used to have 3 "forks" in the river which would take you on different paths (I must have gone down it a dozen times in my life, and ALWAYS went down the cave for some reason). Now, all the forks are closed and you can only go down the cave. Also changed is that they have a machine that brings the rafts up for you. Anyone who went to AC remembers running down that HUGE mountain and having to carry up that ENOURMOUS raft with 2-3 of your friends (and being exhausted by the top). One time in high school I went with 2 friends (Billy and Jonah), and halfway down the ride, they picked me up, and THREW ME OUT behind us! I was flipping, sommersaulting about 10 feet behind them (and slowly getting further away, as my body had much more friction than the plastic raft!), and they laughed and pointed at me as I was banged around the "rocks" in the ride. I went down it and got bruised (nothing serious) and dove into another raft that was coming down after us (I dove in the middle of a 5-girl raft! :)) I also remember Billy and I screaming at some guy whose name was "Ben" in another raft, asking if his last name was "dover." Hahaha...

Cannonball Run: Still there, and still the best waterslide I've ever had. It's no longer underground, but still pitch black, fast-as-hell, and shoots you into FREEZING water! These hot girls yesterday behind Uri and I asked me if it was scary, and I said it was (and pitch black, superfast, etc). She didn't wanna go on, and her boyfriend was upset, so I said "I'm joking, it's all lit up and kinda boring." Uri and I went first, and waited to see her come out afterwards. She was crying.

Wave Pool: There were a number of deaths in this pool. I remember my dad telling me he saw a kid on the news, a "professional swimmer" had died by being trapped near one of the drains, which had some big suction power or something (not unlike daron). I was so terrified of it that I stayed SO FAR away from any drains in that pool. It's still there, and I didn't see any drain-deaths :)

Tarzan Swing: Still there, and still has about 20 spectators watching (still cheering for 5 things: a great swing, a really awful swing like a loud bellyflop, a really big person making a huge splash, a really young kid who actually does it, and girls whose tops fall off) but yesterday there was only one open (I think all still operate maybe, but just not open yesterday). The *HUGE* difference is that diving and flipping are ABSOLUTELY PROHIBITTED! Flips/dives used to be featured prominantly in the commercial for AC, but they mean it at MC: Uri and I saw 2 people get ejected from the park yesterday immediately when they flipped. They also ("geniously") have a second rope attached to reel-in the trapeeze when it doesn't come right back. I remember at AC, they used to have hooks attached to ropes and tried to "spear" the trapeeze back (sometimes taking a few minutes!). It was also funny to see little kids fall immediately, older/taller people fall when their feet hit the water (didn't hold up their knees), and a few dumbasses who were too scared (or stupid) to let go at the apex, and swung back to the launch platform, hitting the mat, and bellyflopping into the water, with the spectators laughing and "Ooooooo'ing"!

"Diving Pool:" I don't remember what it was exactly, but next to the wave pool there used to be a basic swimming pool with a tall area to jump out of. I never went on it though, but I remember it being there (and it's gone now).

Roaring Rapids: We didn't go on it yesterday, but it's still there (both the single and double tube ones), but I remember being a little asshole and riding down without my tube (and pissing off the lifeguards). I also once legitimately fell off the tube, and clung onto my friend Dan's tube by the handle and held on behind him as he rode down (feeling *every* bump along the way!). About 10 seconds after we crashed into the pool, my tube came out after me :)

The Looping Waterslide: Ah the infamous ride that spawned a thousand myths. First, a few yes/nos: Yes, it existed. No, it's no urban legend. Yes, it was actually opened, but only for a total of a few days and only years after it was built/completed. No, I never went on it (never opened when I was there). Yes, it contained an "escape hatch" on the bottom of the loop in case you didn't "make it up" the loop. No, I don't know if this was the inspiration for Homer's Mount-Splashmore incident. Yes, it had a weight requirement (something like 170lbs and below only). Yes, pictures of it DO exist:


The cave in the middle of the main lagoon: Not a ride, but it was still a fun "hangout" where people would go, have splashfights, etc. The cave is still there, but they put a boulder in front of both entrances. Yesterday, after jumping off the cliffjump, I swam over, peeked in the space above the boulder, saw the cave, heard the echo in there, and was nostalgic for my 13-year-old self.

Alpine Slide: This was a non-water ride, where you took a skilift up, and rode down these concrete tracks down the ski slope. It was SO fast and SO dangerous. I fliped over a couple times, and Billy and I got some nasty bruises. Not surprisingly, it's gone.

Rides/Things no longer there: Gone rides include all non-water rides (Motorworld, Bungee, Alpine Slide, the playground area near the wavepool that all I remember from it was that there were large black nets to climb in, That "fly in the air over a huge fan wearing a skydiver outfit" thing - which regular people never got higher than like 3-4 feet anyway, the big fishtank near the lagoon, Surf Hill - that 8-lane racing ride (although it *was* open a few years ago at MC, but was so run-down). Also, across the street, those candy stores with the watermill and minigolf are closed (and the minigolf courses are so rundown and filled with overgrown folliage, etc), Bumper Boats, one of the two cliffs of the cliff dive, that roller-slide thing where you rode down this non-water slide down a slide of rolling pins on this plastic mat which resembled a winter sled with handles, gained a lot of speed and "skipped" the water on the mat like a flat rock across a lake, and of course... the Looper ;)

So in all, MC is still fun. Yes, it is. And yes, it's definately a lot more "safe." I'd say it's at least as safe as any other waterpark now, and the blacktop is still so hot on your bare feet. But it's still SO unique, since again, all other parks are pretty much identical (wet-n-wild, splish-splash, etc). My friend Al spoke to us after and asked "How was Mountain Creek, aka 'P**sy Action Park?'" That's not an inaccurate description, but it's still a lot of fun (and cheap - $22 with a coupon), and you don't have that "I really may hurt myself *bad*" feeling of terror :)

This entry is from my site at (this link.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husbands brother died at action park in 1987 and he was with his brother, they were in the wave pool and the life gaurds weren't paying F***ing attention. They were watching the girls they stopped the wave pool his brother went diving under water they didn't blow the whistle before they started the wave pool back up and the pump under the bottom of the pool kept him under. And he was looking for him calling his name when they started the pool back up he didn't see him, some one shouted there is a body under the water. Thats when they stopped the wave pool one of the life gaurds jumped in and pulled him out and he was already dead and it took and hour and a half for the ambulance to get there* Please if you enjoy your life *DON'T GO TO ACTION PARK*
Rose Grandchamps

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

**In Loving Memory Of Gregory Grandchamps* 1968-1987 * Died in the Wave Pool in Action Park
The professional Swimmer *
May his memory live on and his spirit haunt Action Park

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is by far the best park ever. I've been there a few times. The loop slide isn't a myth, I have pictures of me on it.

Also where can you go to get into the park for $23 all day, bungee jumping was free, slingslot was $5, and skydiving machine was $7. It had its dangers, but that is what makes the thrill. They didn't have boring slides like you see today.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Ivetje said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:39 AM  
Blogger Ivetje said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:39 AM  
Blogger Ivetje said...

Hi there,
My name is Ivette and I'm from Holland. I've read your story about the looping slide in Action park. You say that this slide actually never opened en no one ever did this ride. Here's a picture of a little boy who did this slide. The slide opened in 1985 but closed a month later because there were to many injuries. You can find some information about this slide on wikipedia :

Here you can find a a few man who actually did this slide :

This is the picture I wanted to show, a boy comes out of the slide :

The url's are in 2 parts, in 1 part it falls away from the screen. Sorry for this problem :D

Have fun with this information!!

Greetings, Ivette van Amelsfort

3:44 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Some of my greatest teenage memories are of Action Park. It really was a rite of passage - everybody at my high school had to go, and we all knew how dangerous it was. (This was in the mid-80's.) The Alpine Slide is still my favorite ride of all time - my first time down, I was riding on that brake out of fear, but from my second time on, it was flat out all the way! I flew down that mountain! Almost smashed into the slowpoke in front of me a few times, and no doubt I came pretty close to flying off the track in the curves. Loved it, though. Developed an actual technique for staying on the track at full speed, leaning and drifting.

The day Action Park closed, we all lost something. Now everything's so sanitized and safe, and people are afraid of everything. Action Park was dangerous, we all knew it, and we all went and loved it anyway.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to go to action park for years growing up...It was the only water park I had really ever gone to until I got older, when I went to other parks they were so boring, no surprises, you always saw somebody bleeding, crying, hurt whatever at Action Park and I thought it was normal to see hurt people or to get hurt at a water park, the feeling of anxiety and nervousness before going on some of the Action Park rides has never been eclipsed at any other amusement park...

Motor world sucked and normally smelled funny...There was once a people mover type thing that went over the road that would take you there..I think they closed that after a while...

You always jumped out of your tubes on the slides at action park or pushed people out their tubes..and somebody you knew normally got hurt esp. on the alpine slide...I remember the little carts were always cracked or the breaks would never work right..the chair lift up the hill was so old and rickety, I remem people would yell things at the people down would always see people whipped out during the way up, this chick I was with once whipped out hard..she didn’t go on any rides for the rest of the day. ...on one of the mat rides the water pressure would weaken and people would run into you or you to them..that hurt...

One time on a real busy day I saw this kid coming off a ride with just his white briefs on and the lifeguards just started making fun of him, so the people in the line-up joined in yelling at the kid.

They had this weird playground near the wavepool and my brother and I were walking through this tube and somebody took a huge crap inside it...

people were always drunk and pushing in lines, on a busy day there were always fights and words exchanged...

My mom used to get real nervous in the wave pool telling us the people died in it...There would always be some kind of nervous energy in the pool because while swimming you would always hear people talk about the deaths in the pool. The restaurant was near the pool and there were always hornets around the pool...

On surf mountain there was once a jump that would send you in the air, people would try to show off and do tricks you could eat a pizza and watch people bad themselfs, my brother found like 20 bucks on that ride, because he would always get stuck on it and find floating money.

I remember this log flume ride that was closed...I thought it was weird because it left the water and went up the hill on dry land and then went back into the water, the ride was not so easy to find it was only open for a short time.

There were two rides
that went underground, a short one near roaring springs and the cannonball shoot..I smacked my face on the short one really hard once and saw stars. I didn’t like the cannonball one, the water was really cold and it was hard to breath once the speed picked up and it got really dark inside it.

There was this fish tank near the beginning of the entrance near roaring springs that was so filthy and full of garbage and stuff growing inside it... also around the pool at roaring springs it got very dirty with band-aids and garbage, one time my sister picked up a hair extension and asked what it was.

I bought this stupid ceramic souvenir there that had this weird green I dunno-what-kinda-looking-cute thing hanging off a winked paper bag that said “I had a bag of fun in Action Park” My mom got mad at me and said it was a big waste of money, just to spite her I had it sitting on my dresser for like 15 years. I still have it.

I never questioned any of this because I had been going to the park since I was really young child, my grandfather used to say it was run by the mafia.

1:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1994 I was a VJ for MTV and for some reason we were shooting segments at Action Park. I'm a California guy, so I had never heard of this place - but I tell you, it was a trip.
I can remember jumping off a cliff and smashing my arms up pretty bad. The real scary part though was that Wave Pool. Gotta tell you, I was out there in the middle of it when I realized I was kind of stuck! The waves were so strong - I started to panic, my swimming had no affect. Chaos! Finally made my way to the side, exhausted...Later one of the security guards started telling me how often they go sued...Nuts!
Ed Marques

10:58 PM  
Blogger and relayed by the weedmaster said...

On August 1st, 1993, Headbanger's Ball had an episode with Alice In Chains. Memorable scene was them putting a fishing rod into the fish tank.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How I wish I was old enough to visit Action Park. I was only four when the park was closed down, but have heard and read countless stories. I've been to Mountain Creek and its just not a thrill like Action Park must have been. The world doesn't understand that danger is fun. If we buy the tickets at the waterpark, we should be responsible for what we do. I wish Action Park was still there.

2:05 AM  
Anonymous djeddief said...

I am 41 years old now and living in Florida. I was telling this 25 year old kid about a park I went to in Vernon NJ over 10 years ago and its loop slide. He didnt believe me so I searched websites and came up with this one. I was one of the few who rode the loop. It was in 95' and the weight limit that day was 185. I weighed in at 182 so off I went. Everything you hear is true- the cold water spray down,the special position to go down,the trap door and the disorientation you experience when you are shot out the bottom. I am proud to be one of a few lucky(?) people to experience it. In todays society you will never experience anything like that.

6:07 PM  

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