“Class Action Park” is a documentary about a New Jersey amusement park of the 1980s and 1990s that may have been the most dangerous such venue ever.
Lots of people got hurt on its rides, which included a water slide with a full loop in it, which many people didn’t get all the way around, resulting in more than just a few bumps and bruises. There were lots of other rides and slides that weren’t built with safety in mind — many of the designers were people whose concepts had been rejected by multiple other parks — all overseen by an owner (Gene Mulvihill) who couldn’t have cared less as long as the money kept flowing in. Even when he was sued by parents of teens who flocked there by the thousands every summer, he refused to settle, dragging out the court proceedings as long as possible until the plaintiffs usually dropped the cases. His attitude was that if you went to Action Park, it was your responsibility to keep yourself from getting hurt.
While some who went to Action Park shrugged off their injuries as rites of passage, there were genuine tragedies, including an electrocution and a boy who died when he flew over the side of a horribly-designed alpine slide and hit his head on a rock. The teenager staffers who essentially ran the place — unsupervised by adults — provided very little oversight, including in the giant wave pool, where more than a few people were found to have drowned.
Johnny Knoxville made a fictionalized movie version of the Action Park story a few years ago, but it doesn’t compare to seeing how the real place operated and hearing from both employees and customers who lived to remember it. Directed by Seth Porges and Chris Charles Scott III, “Class Action Park” will make you shake your head repeatedly in amazement at what was allowed there and wonder how the place was able to stay open for so long.
I give “Class Action Park” an 8.5 out of 10 (currently streaming on HBO Max).