April 16 2010
Anyway, back in my high school days there was a waterpark called ‘Action Park’ out in NJ. Probably went there three times and I always remember it being action packed— and totally nerve wracking. Pretty much whatever ride or slide you’d go on there’d be this real-life feeling like you could get all killed up on it. The place was run real loose. Like nobody was really in charge and the teenagers who ran the rides weren’t concerned about anything but their next weed break…
One ride The Cannonball Loop* was basically a water tube (fully enclosed tube) that went in a loop dee loop. You’d jump in it and you’d shoot down at super speed (terrifying) then do a loop and then the tube would go underground then you’d shoot out over this like cold green swampy pond for a totally disorienting splashdown. Plus, you knew you had to swim out of the way fast because whoever was next in line was probably already on the way down and about to land on your friggin head. The Otto style stoners that ran the ride were not umm… safety oriented. Two at a time? No problem! Head first or feet first? Up to you, dude! Cannonball it! Just make sure you swim out of the way fast…
Found some photos on the interwebs. The place was way more hillbilly than I remember. Here’s the cannonball loop:
*Clarification of my incorrect cannonball memory in the comments section…*
The ‘Alpine Slide’ was this rough concrete slide thing and you’d ride some sort of speeding plastic vehicle down it. All you had control over was the pull-up brake. And no question about it if you went too fast you’d go flying off the track or maybe flip it and rip all your skin off. The concrete was like sandpaper (maybe a safety precaution to slow you down if you wiped out?). No helmet no nothing. Just a tight grip on the brake. Total free-balling it safetywise. It was like being a stuntman! I remember getting to the bottom and feeling like I just accomplished something by not being unconscious or ripped up or smashed…
It looks slow but you could pick up serious luge-style speed on this one:
The thing that scared me most was though the ‘Wave Pool’. A pool that made mini-tidal waves– and you were allowed to bring rafts in there. Like those dense spongy rectangle rafts and inner tubes. And sometimes the pool would be so packed that rafts were covering the whole surface of the deep end. If you went under– chances are you’d come up under the rafts and have to fight your way to the surface while the waves kept coming.
One time I was under for a beat too long and immediately wanted to get out of the pool. But you could only reach the ladder in the deep end when the ‘tide’ was high. If your grip slipped you’d have to wait for the tide to rise again to grab ahold of the wet metal ladder. The timing had to be just right to get out. Even as a dopey teenager I remember thinking— holy shit that pool is friggin dangerous!!
Here’s the shallow end on a less crowded, less drown-oriented day.
Of course, soon we started hearing real stories about things going wrong at Action Park. Someone drowned in the wave pool. Someone got electrocuted on the Kayak Ride. Rumors kept coming about head smashes and alpine slide neck breaks and stuff. And thankfully eventually it closed or was condemned or whatever. The action stopped.
But I still do have fond memories of the place! It was high energy ‘action’! They’ll never be anything like this place was in its prime. Unapologetically dangerous. It must have been running right before a mega lawsuit could clobber a place down. Like chances are if I broke my arm on a ride I would have accepted four free passes and an all I can eat ice cream coupon and been done with it.
Because back then you knew if you were going to Action Park… Action Park could totally f–k you up. Permanent style. That was the deal. Don’t like it? Don’t come. Enter at your own risk and live to tell the tale. Or stay a bone dry unscathed chicken…
PS. I googled and found some great coverage bout Action Park here…