HBO documentary tells the story of a deadly theme park

HBO documentary tells the story of a deadly theme park
HBO documentary tells the story of a deadly theme park

Snake-infested water, an enclosed loop slide and a wild wave pool – this theme park in the United States was responsible for the deaths of six people in seven years.

The story of the Action Park in Vernon, New Jersey – which most of us probably never heard of – is truly one of the wildest you will encounter.

A new HBO documentary Class action park just hit the streaming on Binge, describing all sorts of indiscretions from the park’s heyday, including drunk underage workers manning the rides, botched ride designs, and countless deaths and injuries as authorities turned a blind eye and punters kept turning up.

Yes, that’s a true story.

In 1978, the Action Park owned by Great American Recreation opened to the public.

It quickly became popular with locals and tourists for its crazy, unique rides and was considered one of the first modern water parks of its kind in the United States.

But as quickly as it gained popularity, it also became known for its truly catastrophic injury victims from its dangerous rides.

A director of the emergency room at a nearby hospital reported in 1987 that five to ten victims were treated every day during the high season. The park even bought additional ambulances to meet demand.

One of the park’s most notorious rides was the super speedboats, which were set up in a small pond and are known by park staff to be heavily snake infested. And then there were the bumper boats, which regularly had engines that leaked fuel.

In the mid-1980s, the company built the infamous cannonball loop with a closed round loop at the end, similar to that of a roller coaster, but in a slide shape.

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When the slide was first finished, the organizers tested the ride with dummies and found that they kept turning up mutilated. Unimpressed, employees were eventually asked to test the Cannonball Loop and offered $ 100 bills as incentives.

One of the staff, known as Fergus, described himself as “one of the idiots” who accepted the offer and said, “$ 100 didn’t buy enough alcohol to drown out that memory.”

Test drivers would show up with bloody mouths and inexplicable cuts until it was found that previous drivers’ teeth were caught in the loop and cut people.

Despite the test disaster, the slide was opened for a month in the summer of 1985 before it was quickly closed by order of the State Advisory Council on the Safety of Carnival Rides.

The Roaring Rapids were named another of the park’s most dangerous drives in the documentary, resulting in a long list of injuries.

In a 1984 report filed with the state of New Jersey, the park identified a number of injuries at the attraction, including broken thigh bones, collarbones, noses, and broken elbows and dislocated shoulders and knees.

Another attraction was the Cannonball Falls, where the riders started from a slide and 10 feet before hitting the water. Staff admitted that people were constantly being dragged out of the freezing, deep mountain pool because of being in shock or not getting off the slide properly.

Another attraction, the Wave Pool – also known as the Grave Pool – was 30 m wide and 250 m long and could accommodate 500 to 1000 people.

Waves were generated at 10-minute intervals for 20 minutes and could reach a height of one meter.

The pool is said to have been too strong and too deep, and many night owls couldn’t swim, but even those who could swim were sometimes exhausted, resulting in visitors overcrowding the side ladders at the start of the waves, leading to several accidents.

Three people died in this pool.


July 8, 1980: The death of George Larsson Jr. after riding the alpine slide is one of the ugliest and most exciting incidents in the Action Park Class action parkMain focus. On the Alpine slide, an 820 m long stretch made of concrete, fiberglass and asbestos, the drivers sat on small sleds with a brake / gas lever and climbed down the slope. When 19-year-old Larsson was visiting the park with a friend one afternoon, he climbed the alpine slide. The brake on his sled was broken, which obviously caused his sled to go off the track. He fell on an embankment and hit his head on a rock, an injury that put him in a coma and killed him. Park founder Gene Mulvihill told reporters that Larsson was an employee, that he rode at night and that it had rained, a story his family denies. Mulvihill told this story because if Larsson was an employee he didn’t have to report the death to the state. State records show that between 1984 and 1985 alone, 14 fractures and 26 head injuries were caused by the Alpine slide.

July 24, 1982: A 15-year-old boy, George Lopez, drowned in the tidal wave pool.

1. August 1982: Jeffrey Nathan, 27, was electrocuted during the Kayak Experience, an attraction in which 20 kayaks drove 300 meters of rapids. As it turned out, these rapids were created by underwater fans. Nathan reportedly flipped out of the kayak – a common occurrence for riders at this attraction – and while he was in the water trying to get back into his kayak, one of those underwater fans shorted out and electrocuted him. He went into cardiac arrest and died shortly afterwards. This incident resulted in the permanent closure of The Kayak Experience, even though the park would take no responsibility for the death, claiming they closed it only because people were too intimidated by it. The park initially denied that the electrical current caused his death, saying there were no burns to his body, but the coroner replied that burns generally do not occur from a water-based electric shock. The ride was drained and closed for investigation. The accounts differed in terms of the amount of exposed wiring. The park said it was “just a nick,” while others argued it was closer to 8 inches. The state Labor Department found the fan was properly maintained and installed and cleared the park of any misconduct. However, it is also said that under certain circumstances the electricity has the potential to cause bodily harm. The park claimed it was confirmed even though it never reopened the drive and said people were afraid to move on afterwards.

1984 (date unknown): It was unofficially believed that a visitor’s fatal heart attack was caused by the shock of the cold water in the pool under the Tarzan swing. The water on the trip and in this swimming area was 10-16 ° C, while other water areas were in the 21-27 ° C range, which is more typical for swimming pools. The Tarzan swing and the cannonball ride in this area were powered by spring water.

27. August 1984: A 20-year-old from Brooklyn drowned in the tidal wave pool.

July 19, 1987: An 18-year-old drowned in the tidal wave pool.

Great American Recreation declared bankruptcy and the park was finally closed in 1996 after a series of personal injury lawsuits that earned the park the nickname “Class Action Park”.

Park founder Gene Mulvihill (who died in 2012 at the age of 78) is believed to have had ties to the Mafia, which contributed to how much power he had in the city of Vernon.

In early 1998, Intrawest announced the purchase of the Action Park property. After a major overhaul that included redesigning rides and removing attractions that were classified as unsafe, the water park reopened as Mountain Creek Waterpark, where it is still operating.

The Class Action Park can be streamed on Binge

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