Documentary about infamous Action Park becomes 1 of the most watched films on HBO Max
In the two weeks since its debut, the documentary “Class Action Park” has become one of the most watched films on the streaming service HBO Max.
The documentary tells the history of Action Park. The Vernon Township amusement and water park was once known as one of the most dangerous parks in the country with dangerous rides and a mostly inattentive teenage staff.
Many people who grew up in New Jersey in the '80s and '90s have tales about their experience at the park, and some have battle scars to prove it. They talk about Action Park with a sense of nostalgia. But it was also a place where several people were seriously injured and even died.
Director Seth Porges say that his challenge was to tell both stories of the park at once.
“That, to me, was very important when talking about Action Park, is understanding that a lot of people went there. It was this formative experience for a lot of people, a lot of people went there and had a great time and look back very fondly on it. At the same time, it was a place where a lot of people got hurt and some people got killed,” Porges says.
“And I think it is disingenuous to say just one or the other happened. These things co-existed. And to me that's really important because that's what growing up in this period was like. We were doing stupid things. Sometimes you got hurt but some people still look back and say, ‘I'm glad I went through that and I'm really glad my kids don't have to,” says Porges.
The director says that the story of Action Park is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic when America is consumed with debates about how far people will go to keep themselves and other safe.
“The story of Action Park is a more relevant metaphor than ever,” he says.
Action Park was open from 1978 until 1996. A total of six people died in accidents at the park.
The park itself is still open under a new name with new owners – with safer attractions.