Watch a Short Documentary about “The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever”

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Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 28 2013 6:05 PM

Fond Memories of an Extremely Hazardous Amusement Park

action park
A photo of the Cannonball Loop from "The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever"

Dailymotion

In the not-too-distant past, there existed a blissful place where kids could be kids with reckless abandon, swinging like Tarzan from a rope into a pool of water or cruising at high speeds down a giant slide. This place was no Six Flags or run-of-the-mill water park. While you stood in line to swing, men would flash the crowd. That slide was made of cement, so that when the brakes on your coaster inevitably gave out and sent you crashing towards the finish line, your body was covered with scars. And nobody batted an eye.

This magical land of revelry and gross negligence was Action Park (also referred to as “Accident Park,” “Traction Park,” and “Class Action Park”), a New Jersey amusement park that operated from 1978 to 1996. The folks at Dailymotion recall fond memories of the extreme attractions (including a water slide that did a complete loop) in the short, two-part documentary The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever.

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The roundup of talking heads, among them comedian Chris Gethard, are the first to admit how crazy this all sounds. (How could they get away with such unregulated safety methods for so long, you’ll wonder.) But their stories generally check out. One Slate staffer tells me that nearly everything in the documentary is more or less accurate, and reports of at least a couple drownings at the amusement park can be found in the New York Times.

Part two of the documentary will be posted on Thursday, and it promises to “go even deeper into the legend and legacy of Action Park.” In the meantime, check out the Slate Culture Gabfest’s end of summer discussion on the cultural appeal of theme parks and ask yourself whether you would have braved this remarkable place of fun and terror.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

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