Son of Action Park owner writes tell-all book about the infamous amusement park

The son of the owner of one of New Jersey’s most infamous amusement parks has written a book about its history.

News 12 Staff

Jul 14, 2020, 12:55 AM

Updated 1,378 days ago

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The son of the owner of one of New Jersey’s most infamous amusement parks has written a book about its history.
For some growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, a trip to Action Park in Vernon was a summertime ritual. For others, it meant a trip to the emergency room.
Action Park is sometimes called Traction Park or Class Action Park because of the injuries and deaths that occurred there.
Andy Mulvihill’s father owned the park. In his book “Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park,” Mulvihill talks about the rides and their history – including the famed Cannonball Loop Water Slide.
“I tell you, when I hit the up-slope of the curve, it’s like my stomach went up through my mouth and I got all discombobulated,” he says.
There were rumors of a test dummy that first went on the slide that came out decapitated.
“You hear people say about these urban legends of Action Park and people make up some stories, but there are so many stories that are so unbelievable that are real. There’s no need to make up stories,” Mulvihill says.
Known for its “you control the action” ride like Surf Hill and the Colorado River ride, which featured an underground tunnel dubbed the “toilet bowl,” Action Park replaced the illusion of danger created by roller coaster theme parks with actual danger.
“Because some people were preconditioned to think that they didn’t have to be responsible, it means that the ones that wanted to have the thrill shouldn’t be allowed to have the thrill? I don’t think so,” Mulvihill says.
Watch: 'Class Action Park' Documentary Trailer
 
But the book focuses largely on Mulvihill’s father Gene, who eventually was caught and pleaded guilty to basically fabricating the insurance company that supposedly covered the park. Mulvihill paints his dad as an eccentric, hardworking free spirit who reveled in just seeing other people having fun.
“To him, if you’re going to do something, you have to do something great, that blows people’s minds,” he says.
The book also reflects on the six deaths and many injuries that occurred at the park. Mulvihill recounts pulling a drowning victim from the bottom of a pool himself.
“It’s tragic. It was really something that was hard to deal with,” he says.
The book is gaining national attention. It is a story that could probably only happen in New Jersey, complete with Wall Street money, mysterious whiffs of mob ties, colorful workaholic characters, shady political deals and a small town next to a major city full of people looking to blow off steam, but with questionable swimming skills.
“I think Action Park would have been much different if it was in Omaha or up in Maine. But you take people from New York and New Jersey and you let them loose in that environment,” Mulvihill says.
Action Park operated from 1978 until 1996. A documentary about the park will be airing on HBO Max in a few months.
Gene Mulvihill died in 2012.


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