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The Amusement Park So Unsafe It Inspired a Movie

Posted May 11, 2018

[Editor’s Note:  Today’s post is by my Law Clerk Abbie Rosen who tells us the incredible and appalling story of an amusement  park so unsafe that they’re making a movie based on it.  Abbie concludes with some important advice from amusement ride safety professionals on how to help keep you and your family safe at an amusement park, but, as her post illustrates, none of this is a substitute for a properly regulated park, which follows the law and industry safety standards.  Jon Karon]

By Abbie Rosen

Johnny Knoxville’s Action Point Movie about a completely reckless theme park is set to hit theaters June 1, 2018. Knoxville has been making team stunt videos (Full length films, and an MTV television show called “Jackass”) via various partnerships with MTV and Paramount Pictures where they attempt stunts and receive injuries for laughs and money since 2002. This work has mostly appealed to teenagers, and he has also appeared in others’ movies with similar motifs.  Like most of Knoxville’s movies, the film will no doubt be filled with ridiculous stunts, crude humor, and a lot of high risk situations that might have caused more substantial injuries on the unsuspecting park visitor. Unfortunately, this film is loosely based off similarly named, Action Park, which operated in Vernon, New Jersey where the injuries and fatalities were very real.

The original Action Park opened in 1978 and closed in 1996 due to accidents (including 6 fatalities) that occurred in the park, and a large number of civil lawsuits resulting from these accidents. Some of Action Park’s most infamous attractions included the wave pool, which was responsible for 3 drownings; An Alpine Slide that originally had no track to keep the carts on, resulting in many carts shooting off the track; And the Cannonball Loop, a water slide that was only open for a month before it was shut down by the state’s Advisory Board on Carnival Amusement Ride Safety.

When all was said and done, the park had gained nicknames like “Traction Park” and “Class Action Park.” Articles from nj.com and weirdnj.com about the park quote newspapers that there were at least 14 broken bones and 26 head injuries resulting from the Alpine Slide between 1984 and 1985. They also claim that 40% of the lawsuits and citations against the park were due to this attraction.

More recently, the park’s owners have begun a slow revamp and reopening of the park as of 2014, providing more safety regulations for attractions, but cashing in on the park’s name and legend. They were, however, unable to escape the connotations of the name and changed it in 2015. The myths and legends about this park are endless, and you could really get lost for a good few hours looking into all the stories that came out of the park.

So, as you (or your teenagers) go and enjoy the new Action Point Movie, you should remember that you can increase your chances of a safe, fun day at the park by considering the following tips from park safety professionals:

  • Read ALL warning signs carefully and explain them to your child
  • Obey minimum or maximum height, age, and weight restrictions
  • Don’t put your child on a ride they’re afraid of
  • Tell your child to hold on tightly to handholds or lap bars

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