If you grew up in New Jersey during the 1980s, you’re probably familiar with Action Park. Also known as Traction Park, Accident Park, and Class Action Park, it’s had somewhat of a tumultuous history. Opened in Vernon, in 1978, Action Park was one of the first modern water parks in the United States. The owner, Gene Mulvihill, wanted to give patrons some control over their entertainment experience…how high or how fast they went. This, along with some poorly designed rides, led to disaster.

An enclosed water slide with a complete loop (the Cannonball Loop) and Alpine Slide (a mountain coaster) were among the most dangerous attractions. The park saw its first fatality on the Alpine Slide, when a 19-year-old employee rode off the track and hit his head. According to state records, there were at least 26 other serious head injuries and 14 fractures attributed to the ride. Many claimed faulty brakes were an issue. The Tidal Wave Pool was another nightmare, nicknamed “The Grave Pool.” Lifeguards rescued, on average, 30 people a day on high-traffic weekends.

What kept people coming back? The park sure was fun – a haven for daredevils. People came seeking thrills, danger, action. There was little structure and it has been reported that underage patrons were allowed to run wild, intoxicated. However, the park did eventually see its end. After six fatalities, the park shut down in 1996. It has since reopened, much safer, under a new name. Still, the legend lives on. Even after the tragedies, many have fond memories…memories so fond, so strong that a major motion picture based on the park will be coming to theaters soon.

Action Point, starring Johnny Knoxville, will be released on June 1st, 2018. I know I’ll be watching, for the nostalgia. But in the meanwhile, I’ll make do with the following footage from 1979/80. It also includes Action Park commercials! Sure, things were crazy, but the ’80s…those were the good old days.

Did you ever visit Action Park? Share your favorite memories and/or injury stories in the comments below. To discover some of New Jersey’s best water parks, click here.

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