Ben Oliver

Banner image for Class Action Park

Class Action Park

There’s two places you can experience 9 Gs as a civilian. One is the back-seat of an F-14, and the other one is at Action Park.
16 February 2024

The story of ‘Action Park’, a notorious water park in New Jersey operating through the 80s and 90s known mostly for its dangerous rides that caused injuries and even several deaths. It got the nickname ‘Class Action Park’ or ‘Traction Park’ due to its reputation.

This film has the tricky task of taking a subject that on paper is inherently funny but genuinely hurt people’s lives forever.

It’s funny to me at least because the park reads like something from The Simpsons. Every ride had a certain level of careless danger to it, cutting every possible corner at the expense of safety. A place that has go-karts that can be easily modified to do 60mph, a wave pool that had to be regularly turned off to check for bodies, a kayak ride that electrocuted guests, an alpine slide where the brakes only worked 50% of the time, a rope swing into an ice cold natural spring that frequently shocked people into almost drowning… the list goes on. Perhaps I’ve just got a nasty sense of humour.

The guilty feeling that you shouldn’t be laughing isn’t helped by the funny interviews with people who remember the place fondly, and even worked there.

Class Action Park takes a clumsy but important 180 turn in tone and explores the deaths at the park, talking to the family of one of the victims. Even so, I think perhaps it leans too much on people’s nostalgic memories of the place and presents a ‘both sides’ view when clearly the side of “it’s not funny people died here” is where it should have focused.

But the very concept and execution of the park is funny in a sick way, and I’m not proud to say that this is probably the film I would also have made about the place.