Bungee jumping Six Flags Great Adventure
On April Fool’s Day this year, the owners of Mountain Creek ski resort and waterpark in New Jersey pulled what seemed like a great prank: They replaced the resort’s sign with one for the old Action Park, the notorious “extreme” amusement park that operated on the site from 1978 to 1996. Six visitors died there, and its seemingly anything-goes approach to summer fun earned it the nicknames “Class Action Park” and “Traction Park.”
“At Action Park, it felt like you were in some crazy guy’s backyard, ” says Dave Schlussman, a 30-year-old from Greenpoint, who in elementary school belly-flopped so hard out of a failed backflip off the park’s Tarzan Swing — just a swing over a freezing cold pool — that his eyeballs felt bruised. “The rides defied any kind of procedure.”
The place was as packed with urban legends as it was with lawsuits: Some — snakes in the rapids ride — were most likely fiction; others — tales of the owner bribing employees with cash to test drive some of the rides for safety or starting his own insurance company — were real.
But the sign was no joke: Action Park was actually coming back this summer from the original owners.
What’s now open at the 35-acre site in Vernon, NJ, is an amalgam of the old and the new — gone are the race cars with shoddy brakes and the park’s most infamous attraction, a water slide with a full vertical loop, which was open for just a month before knocking around too many kids and shutting down for good.
Which isn’t to say Action Park is tame now. Far from it.
The original owners, who had sold the park in 1998 — to a group that changed the name to Mountain Creek — bought it back in 2010 and started restoring old rides such as a river rapids, which they say the previous owners had dulled down. They’re adding a new $1 million Zero G water slide, which they say will be the world’s tallest of its kind when it opens later this summer pending inspection. Riders stand in a capsule, where a trapdoor drops them into the 100-foot-tall slide.
But it wasn’t until an online documentary about the old Action Park — titled “The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever” — went viral last year that the owners realized: Not only do people remember the old park, which drew a million visitors annually at its prime; they miss it.
“The overall conclusion that the people who went to Action Park have is that it was a phenomenal place, ” says Andy Mulvihill, who now owns the resort and is the son of the park’s founder Gene Mulvihill, who died in 2012. “I don’t get approached by people telling me what a terrible place it was. The strength of that passion far outweighed the negative things.”