New Documentary Explores Dark History Of Notorious New Jersey Water Park

WCBS 880 Newsroom
October 22, 2019 - 1:05 pm

VERNON, N.J. (WCBS 880) — The name Action Park may bring back fond memories for some or nightmares for others.

The amusement park, which closed in 1996, became infamous for its outrageous rides, lack of proper supervision and hundreds of injuries in the 18 years it was open in Vernon, New Jersey.

Six people also died at the park, including three drownings at it's popular Tidal Wave Pool, which was later nicknamed, “The Grave Pool."

"Every member of my family was injured in that park at some time or another," comedian Jimmy Kimmel said while interviewing "Jackass" star Johnny Knoxville, whose 2018 movie "Action Point" is based on the notorious park.

Now what many have called America’s most dangerous water park is the subject of a new documentary called "Class Action Park."

Seth Porges, the film's executive producer and co-director, spoke with WCBS 880's Chris Rauch about the movie and the park's most notorious ride — the Cannonball Loop, an enclosed waterslide that featured a full 360-degree vertical loop.

"When they first started testing this thing out they put crash test dummies down it and they came out dismembered and decapitated, like missing heads and missing legs," Porges said. "So they started to tinker with things like the angle, the water pressure, the height of it, until these dummies were no longer coming out decapitated."

The next step was to send humans down the slide.

Porges said the owner of the park would offer $100 to teenage employees who were gutsy enough to test out the slide.

"They send a couple of these teenagers down and the first couple of people that come out, they're missing teeth because they hadn't put sufficient padding into the ride," Porges said. "So they tear it open, they put in more padding, and they send some more teenagers down. These ones, well they're not missing teeth, but they have lacerations all over their bodies and nobody can figure out why."

What crews found after tearing open the slide was like something out of a horror movie.

"The teeth from the first group had become embedded in the padding and was just scraping and biting and eating at the next group of people that went out," Porges said. "This water slide was literally chewing and eating up these kids."

The park's owner successfully turned a ski mountain into a yearround business by converting part of the land into a water park.

While he is considered an innovator for creating the park, Porges said it was kept alive through some shady deals behind the scenes that ended with the owner pleading guilty to insurance fraud. 

The documentary explores the history of the amusement park and looks to find the truth behind all the urban legends.

A release date is planned for early next year.