Author Topic: The 'World's Most Dangerous Amusement Park' Reopens In New Jersey  (Read 114 times)


Nicknamed "Traction Park", 1970s New Jersey pleasure ground at which six people died and hundreds were injured reopens after viral documentary triggers wave of nostalgia.
The rides were death-defying — on a good day — and the water slides as likely to land you in hospital as the pool. But despite the dangers, that was just how visitors to New Jersey’s pleasure ground Action Park liked it.

In a bygone thrill-seeking era, before lawsuits and tragedy brought an end to the fun, the 35-acre US site was nicknamed “Traction Park” due to the serious injuries, which at one stage numbered between five and 10 a day.

Later known as “Class Action Park,” after six deaths resulted in a barrage of lawsuits being brought against the owners, the 35-acre resort finally shut its doors in 1996.

But nostalgia for those carefree days, when visitors knew they were risking life and limb each time they boarded one of the rickety rides, has inspired its owner to reopen its doors.

And while the health and safety police have been appeased with a few modifications, visitors report that the fun is almost as hair-raising as the heady days of the 1970s when moms knew to pack a bumper box of plasters along with the swimsuits.

Described as like going to “some crazy guy’s backyard,” the original rides at Action Park included perhaps the most dangerous attraction, Alpine Slide, which sent visitors hurtling down a concrete track built into a hill in a car controlled only by a hand brake.

Riders regularly lost the skin on their elbows and other body parts as both they and the car careened off the track.

Bumped heads were common,thanks to pools which visitors said were too shallow for diving, while a spell in the wave pool often resulted in a terrifying battle with the suction draft. Among the six deaths recorded at the park were an electrocution on a kayak ride, a drowning in the wave pool and a heart attack in ice-cold water.

Andy Fiori, 35, a New York stand-up comedian who was a visitor to the park in its heyday, said: “Even as a kid you’re like, 'They should probably be taking this a little more seriously.’”

But when an online film about the park, called The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever, went viral, a wave of nostalgia was triggered for a era where parents worried less about potential injuries and kids were encouraged to take risks.

Andy Mulvihill, son of the park’s founder, Gene Mulvihill, who died two years ago, bought the site back and restored the old name, reopening some of the rides which earned the park its nickname, making them only slightly less hair-raising in order to meet the standards of a more safety conscious age.

“The overall conclusion that the people who went to Action Park have is that it was a phenomenal place,” he told the New York Post. “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.”

As well as the old name, the park’s retro rainbow sign has returned, along with a handful of the original rides. Visitors to the gift shop can buy “I Survived Action Park” t-shirts and, adding to the slight air of lawlessness which still clings to the park, adults are also permitted to drink alcohol.

Former staff members held a reunion on Tuesday and many New Jersey residents who visited as youngsters in the 1970s, 80s and 90s have been returning too.

But Mr Milvihall insists that the accidents will stay in the past. “The world’s changed,” he said. “I refuse to be involved in any rides where anybody can get hurt.”

Senator Cory Booker, who represents New Jersey, said he was prepared to give Action Park a whirl despite still sporting scars from a childhood visit. “I so want to go again,” he said on Twitter.


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