Action Park: The Most Dangerous Amusement Park Ever


Oliver Barnfield, Cool Guy/Entertainment Editor

On May 6, 1978 the most deadly amusement park of all time was opened. Action Park. It would go down in history as an extremely dangerous but extremely popular place for kids and adults alike.

A total of 6 people lost their lives at the park. Who knows how many were injured.

What’s truly astounding about Action Park is that it didn’t close until 1996, unusual for a park with so many deaths to its name. And it didn’t even close because of the deaths, it shut down due to money problems. The park was fined only once in its 22 year history.

The most famous ride at Action Park was The Cannonball, a giant water slide with a loop, like a rollercoaster. This led to the question: what happens if your momentum isn’t enough to propel you p the loop? Will you be stuck there? It’s the stuff of nightmares. The loop caused many injuries, such as nosebleeds, bruises, head injury, and concussions. Even more terrifying was the fact that the loop was not inclined, and was vertical. It was open very briefly, in fact, and was roped off like a crime scene for most of its life span. “I was one of the idiots that accepted you-know-who’s crisp $100 bill to test run it.” said Tom Fergus, a former Action Park employee. “That was my last ride. $100 did not buy enough booze to drown out that memory. Eyewitness Chris Ish says “A few people did similar things or for some other reason did not get sufficient speed and they landed face first on the inside of the top of the loop. One person injured his two upper front teeth when he did this and had them dig into the soft lining (it was like wrestling mat material).” Ish remembered. “The biggest problem is that sand and dirt and such would collect at the bottom of the loop, and the people would start coming out with abrasions over their entire backs. Then they would have to close it down and clean it out. I believe (and I could be wrong about this) that what finally closed it down was that after it was open for a short while an insurance adjuster finally came around to look at it and went ballistic.” Video footage of the ride is scarce, but a video has surfaced on YouTube depicting old Action Park commercials and home video footage. The footage with the Cannonball Loop can be found at 8:17. (Copy the link into if it is restricted)

The Tidal Wave Pool was the cause of 3 deaths at the park, due to it having lax life guards and the large crowds, mixed with enormous waves at the deep end. It might seem tame, but was more dangerous than it looked.

The Tarzan Rope Swing allegedly claimed the life of another person, due to the shock of the extremely frigid water. The jump was also terrifyingly high. If you forgot to jump off the rope swing, you would crash into the wood platform and have to swim all the way to the other side.

Another problematic attraction was the Tank Tag area. Large Tennis balls could be fired from miniature tanks, and people would often fire at employees instead.

Alcohol was sold on the premises, often to minors, and the employee’s would frequently be young and drunk, not being in their right minds. A large amount of visitors were Spanish-speaking, and almost all of the employees couldn’t speak the language, leading to communication problems in terms of ride rules.

A large section of the park was devoted to motorized riders and bumper cars. They had a built in speed limit, but clever employees and attendee’s soon discovered that by placing a tennis ball in the motor, the cars could go much faster than intended by the makers. This lead to some notable injuries as well, and employees were known to have drown the go-carts down the close by Route 94.

Some former park employee’s have shared horror stories from the parks “glory” days. The food service areas were reportedly disgusting and filthy, riots would break out between rival area gangs, and skin loss was reported on the Alpine Slides. (Which where essentially water slides with no water)

The park has since reopened, and is still running, albeit under a different name. Despite it’s negative reputation as a hotspot for injury and death, the park is very fondly remembered by many. It was a place of danger, of fun, of close scrapes. But it was also a place of tragedy. Action Park’s legacy continues to thrive, and will likely turn into an American Legend soon enough.