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A So So Day at Action Park

Remember everything you heard about Action Park? Well, it’s kind of true. I’m happy to say that I didn’t injure myself badly while spending the day there one summer vacation, but my brother and I have our own bit of experiences there that amount to a cautionary tale nonetheless.

Growing up lower class, you tend to take advantage of what ever vacations or holidays you can dig up. Here in the city, companies would rent whole buses and for a certain fee you could go on the bus and drive to a theme park or water park for the day. The good part is it saved you expenses on travel or whatnot, but the bad part is you’d have to spend the day cooped up in a large bus with neighbors or people down the street you didn’t like very much.

In either case, one summer in 1992 my dad took advantage of  a travel discount and me, my brother, and my dad got in on the bus ride. We took along our friend Jeremy who was a neighbor and good pal of ours at the time. It was a nice summer day and we got up very early, arrived at the bus which stopped on the corner from where we lived and headed to Action Park for the day.

For the most part, it was a fun and easy ride and we had a ton of laughs, but the day within Action Park left a lot to be desired. I remember it as fun as heck, but my dad didn’t seem to enjoy it very much. A lot of the rides were not really for nine year olds like me, or eight years old like my brother, so we mostly did nothing but walk around the park and watch others indulge in the fun.

The first stop was the water slide which was pretty crummy when I think about it. The water slide had no water on it and the end of the slide was filled with leaves and dirt, because the slide was directly under a grouping of trees. I didn’t mind the slide, despite sliding in to a puddle of dirty warm water, but my brother had a less than stellar time as he ended up sliding off course and scraped his bare stomach a bit. It was kind of an annoying incident since my dad was kind of angry about how the staff responded to the bumps he’d endured.

From there were ended up at the tide pool which resulted in us mainly standing and watching as the Tide Pool looked like a genuine death trap.  Not only was the tide pool strong and heavy, but the pool was filled to the maximum with swimmers and thrill seekers. Picture the end of The Simpsons episodes where everyone is trying to squeeze in to Martin’s pool. 

From there, after some oohing and laughing at our neighbors being swept from the undertow, we ended up at Bumper Boats, which sucked big time. I’d say it was the worst ride in the park, as they propped us in to these circular motorized boats on a small lake, and the bumper boats would go around and around, spinning none stop. You had to use the lever to hold it steady and get it moving around, but all I remember is sitting on the boat and spinning non-stop for twenty minutes. My dad would yell “Hold it steady!” while I dizzily complained “It won’t stop spinning!”

Eventually the park employee stopped it and helped me off and I wobbled to my dad’s side, complaining about how much it sucked. Our last ride before we left was Alpine Slide, which is fun on paper. I recently read that the ride was incredibly dangerous and prone to many injuries, and I’m not surprised. The ride began by bringing us up to the top of a peak with a chair lift, and then we’d go down by riding these carts with levers that could either make you go very fast, or very slow. I had the advantage of choosing one of the four parallel tracks that was empty, so I was able to zoom down the track without interruption.

Unlike many others, I would slow down when the park employees propped up signs to slow down at curves, and it was a good speedy ride. The downside was that it would go under the chair lifts and I vividly remember being spat on by someone up above. That didn’t hinder my enjoyment though, but it wasn’t very pleasant for my dad, my brother and Jeremy, all of whom chose the same track and ended up crashing in to each other mid-way down the hill. It’s amazing how little safety there was in the Alpine Slide, and it stunk once you reached the even track, because you’d have to grab your cart and carry it to the end of the track yourself.

Imagine a nine year old having to drag a fifty pound cart all by himself, and it didn’t add to the fun. All said, Action Park was okay for the money we spent, but I wasn’t too surprised when it closed down in 1996. It apparently had a reputation for a ton of injuries, collisions, and under trained staff members.

We were lucky that we just ended up with some bumps, scrapes and a truly mediocre experience at Action Park one Summer day.

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Hoju Koolander Posted on Jun 19, 2018 at 04:38 PM

Glad to finally hear a first hand account of this place, as the rumors and legends are many. We recently mentioned Action Park on my podcast SequelQuest when we were pitching a sequel to the BMX movie RAD which features a sliding scene that takes place on a concrete slide that sounds a lot like your experience.

jkatz Posted on Jun 16, 2018 at 09:23 PM

I've heard many a horror story about Action Park (or Traction Park, as it's sometimes called). You using a Simpsons picture made me laugh because to me the place always sounded like it could be a location on the show.

Even though it was horrifically unsafe, I'm sort of glad it existed and am a little sad I never got to visit it. It makes for some great stories.

NLogan Posted on Jun 16, 2018 at 03:36 PM

I have ridden on many a alpine slide. Hurtling at breakneck speed down a concrete shoot with no way to steer other than leaning and a lever for a break, what could go wrong?

Superman Posted on Jun 16, 2018 at 03:13 PM

I'd never heard of Action Park before. Given your experience and the bit of information I saw when I Googled it, I guess that's a good thing.

pikachulover Posted on Jun 16, 2018 at 06:34 AM

I read about Action Park on reddit.

They used to have those bus day trips. They were usually to somewhere in Nevada to gamble and they were "no kids allowed" trips.

echidna64 Posted on Jun 16, 2018 at 03:54 AM

Accident Park! lol I remember hearing "war stories" from my classmates returning after summer break. Great read Felix!

Vaporman87 Posted on Jun 16, 2018 at 02:22 AM

You came away with your life, so that is a plus. LOL.

Yes, it had quite the reputation for sure. But it should be a tale worth telling just for the novelty of having experienced it.

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