Dislocated shoulders, broken necks, broken collar bones and fractured vertebrae …where to begin with Class Action Park?
An infamous US amusement / water park of the 1970s & ’80s, Action Park was run by Eugene Mulvihill in Vernon, New Jersey. He was a man who like to live without rules, and the park he built -like Walt Disney- reflected the man. But that’s where the similarities end.
Water slides were constructed with little engineering, young employees would serve as crash test dummies.
On the Cannonball Loop (pictured above), teens were catapulted down a pitch black tube at breakneck speed, suffering lacerations or losing teeth from its dangerous loop (actual dummies tested earlier had been decapitated). Too small or too big and the damages could be worse.
HBO’s documentary, complete with old videotape and throbbing ’80s music, is like a time capsule of killer rides -each more deadly than the one before. Cannonball Falls and Super Speed Slide are just two of the cheaply-constructed waterslides where riders were at risk of helplessly defying gravity before crashing down to earth. On Aqua Skoot they would collide at the badly-designed pool at the end, also built above a nest of bees.
On the Tarzan Swing brazen American teens would ignore instructions, with arms flailing as they plummeted into ice cold water, some emerging with dislocated limbs -only to be called “pu**ies” by waiting onlookers convinced they could do better. Ahh the ’80s.
There was the Kayak Experience where someone was electrocuted, a water ride built on a swamp where attendants spotted snakes, and a wave pool known as the ‘death zone’ by lifesavers expected to spot trouble from the hundreds of unknowing swimmers.
Mulvihill ran by his own rule, fighting authorities, never settling lawsuits and even creating his own fake insurance company based in the Cayman Islands.
The doco also hears from the family of one young man who sadly lost his life at just 19 when he hit rocks after flying off one water slide.
It’s hard not to feel that this family never got true justice.
Class Action Park at least goes part of the way to bring their story to light.
Class Action Park airs 8:30pm Wednesday on FOX Showcase and Binge.