Action Park was an amusement and water park located in Vernon, NJ, that offered summertime memories for scores of yesteryear teens. Featuring physics-defying water slides, cliff diving, go-karts, and an alpine slide that ran down the side of a mountain, Action Park quickly became popular with local families and teens. In addition to fond childhood memories, Action Park was also a place for teen employees and their unchecked hormones to rage while chaos and destruction emerged around them.
Created by Eugene Mulvihill (AKA Uncle Gene), Action Park became infamous due to the dangerous rides and the injuries sustained by its guests. Going to the park became a rite of passage as kids of all ages sustained skin burns, dislocated shoulders, and even drowned on the many slides, rides, and attractions offered by the park.
In its heyday, Action Park was best described as a theme park that "allowed a 6-year-old to jump off a 20-foot cliff."
HBO Max's Class Action Park is a deep dive into the infamous "do-it-yourself" amusement park, interviewing former guests and park employees who offer terrifying new stories of "the world's most dangerous theme park."
Uncle Gene Would Pretend To Take Out Employees With A Cattle Prod To Deter People From Sneaking Onto A Ride
In an effort to deter thrill-seekers from sneaking onto the ski lift ride, Mulvihill came up with an idea to pretend to shock an employee with a cattle prod at the front of the ride line. The employee would then pretend to be unconscious, acting as a cautionary tale to all those who wished to sneak on the ride.
"While I was out of town, I got a phone call from the person who ran guest services to say, 'We have an issue,'" said former employee Joe Hession. "'We have hundreds of parents who are calling who are very upset because they saw someone who works lift today kill someone because they didn't have a lift pass.'"
There Was A Snake Infestation On The Speed Boat Ride
The speed boat area was already dangerous given the drunken nature of many of the guests and the neck-breaking speeds at which the boats were allowed to travel. But add giant snakes to the mix, and the speed boat ride becomes a hard lesson in peril and risk.
Former employee Daron Fitch remembered, "You would be driving a powerboat and you would see something slither from the high grass."
"Oh yeah, there were big black snakes," said Andrew Mulvihill, the son of Gene Mulvihill. "Motorworld had lagoons and swamp. There must have been 4-foot snakes that used to scare the hell out of the New Yorkers."
Attractions Had Bee Infestations That Would Result In Attacks On Guests
According to the documentary, rides like the Aqua Scoot were not only home to fun and adventure, but also housed thriving bee colonies that would then attack guests who lingered too long after the ride. Add to the facts that the ride mechanics involved metal moving parts and unchecked speeds, and the danger element of the Aqua Scoot was quite high.
"I'm gonna Aqua Scoot the f*ck away from this thing, that was my instinct," said actor/writer/Action Park survivor Chris Gethard.
The Go-Karts Could Be Disabled Easily, Resulting In Employees Racing On The Highway
"I heard the employees learned how to override the speed governor so the go-karts can go as fast as 50 or 60 miles per hour," said former guest Matthew Callan. "And I heard they would then take those go-karts onto the highway that ran in the middle of the park."
"Yeah, I took a little car on [Highway] 94," confirmed former manager Ed Youmans. "It has a top speed of 60 mph. It was worth it."