The phrase “so fun it should be illegal” does not seem like the best marketing slogan for an amusement park — but for fans of New Jersey’s Action Park, this saying captures its original essence. After an insane legacy of death and injury in the 1980s, the park reopened earlier this month. And despite the new promise of “all the thrills, but none of the spills,” it’s easy to imagine the place is haunted.
Given the park’s tumultuous history with local thrill-seekers, this comeback is a huge summer surprise. Here’s why…
1. The Crazy Cannon Ball Loop
This upside-down slide was so dangerous it was reportedly only operating for one month in 1985 before the New Jersey Carnival Amusement Ride Safety Advisory Board forced it to close due to numerous injuries. The absurd sight of the loop defying logic and gravity at the same time made it a legend, when it was actually just evidence of the park’s greater disregard for safety. One former employee says he was offered $100 to “test run it.”
2. The Tidal “Grave” Pool
Action Park’s Tidal Wave pool resulted in several drownings and even more close calls, as many former employees and patrons recall on Reddit:
“I worked there as a teenager. good times. I was on-site when we lost someone in the wave pool. Honestly a miracle that more people didn’t die there. Every single day, I had to rescue at least 3-5 people from drowning. Idiots from NYC would hit the deep water with no clue how to swim. morons, all of them.”
They proved that wave pools can be as dangerous as the ocean, but that doesn’t mean they should be.
3. The Alpine “Skin” Slide
Losing your skin on the Alpine Slide was just another piece of the “Action.” Tom Fergus, a former employee, told Weird NJ that the slide was actually made of fiberglass, “which explains why your skin would fall off when you fell off.” Unsupervised children rode ski lifts just to get to the ride, and that was seemingly the safest part. Unbelievably, the slide remained open after it was responsible for the first park fatality of an employee in 1980.
4. The Tarzan Swing
In a viral documentary about Action Park, comedian Chris Gethard recalled the swing as a popular place for creeps to expose themselves to patrons. When that’s the least disturbing part of your visit…
5. Electrocution By Kayak
The New Jersey Department of Labor determined that Action Park did not violate any safety laws when a man got electrocuted while on the Kayak Experience ride. Though they were legally in the clear, the ride never reopened.
6. Drunk Adults
The new, possibly improved park seems to be maintaining the same “drunk dad” policy they had back in the day. The current site advertises at least three alcohol-serving establishments, and one of them is called “Kink.” The scariest ride by far is in the parking lot, where local kids can utilize their learners permits as every parent’s designated driver.
7. They Have A Sense Of Humor About It
The most concerning aspect of Action Park is how proud people are of its legacy. The original owners are not running away from the reputation, selling t-shirts with the boast, “I survived Action Park.” They’re embracing the old brand, if anything. Modifications like mandatory protective face masks scream something, but it’s not necessarily reassurance.