A little bit about us:

Seth Porges: I co-directed and produced Class Action Park. I went to Action Park as a kid and have spent the past decade chasing my memories and trying to understand if the chaotic, anarchic, strange, dangerous, fun, terrifying, dangerous, violent place in my head could possibly have been real. Prior to Class Action Park, I worked with some friends in 2013 on a separate short documentary about Action Park ("The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever") and appeared in a few dozen episodes of Travel's "Mysteries at the Museum" telling fun stories from history. I'm also a journalist and former magazine editor. Ask me anything about Class Action Park, Action Park, theme parks, pinball... or anything else. And say hi on Twitter: @sethporges.

Chris Charles Scott: Hi all! I co-directed and produced Class Action Park. I had never heard of Action Park until my friend Seth told me about this strange and insane amusement park and I couldn't believe it was real. Turns out, it was—and I was instantly obsessed. Ask me anything about Action Park, Class Action Park, or college football and I'll answer from beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ed Youmans: I’ve worked in ski area management most of my life, working in New Jersey, Lake Tahoe, Oregon, and Colorado. These days I’m the general manager of a ski resort in Western, NY. I worked at Action Park from 1985 to 1995. I began there as a Ride Attendant and spent the last 5 years there as the Resort Operations Manager. I was immediately interested in contributing to this film mostly because I saw Seth’s mashable.com video on Action Park in 2012 and thought he did a better job than anyone ever had at painting a picture of what Action Park was all about. When I heard he was doing a feature-length film I thought “he’s the right one to tell the whole story”. After 10 years at Action Park, I was more or less burned out and at least a little “post-traumatic” - so I moved to Lake Tahoe and spent a couple of years rock climbing in Yosemite to decompress.

Watch the wild ride of a trailer here.


EDIT: Thank you for the great questions! We’re heading out now but don’t forget to watch Class Action Park streaming now on HBO Max! We’ll pop back in to answer some more questions later via u/edyoumans (Ed) and u/classactionpark (Seth & Chris)

Comments: 227 • Responses: 97  • Date: 

ShivDoot21 karma

What ride in Action Park would you MOST want to go on, if you were impervious to injury?

hbomax21 karma

SETH: The most "fun" rides were probably Colorado River Ride and Alpine Slide. I did both, though I was super young and so only did the kiddie track for the Alpine Slide. The "expert" track terrified me (rightfully so). Seeing the wrecked carts line the track as you took the ski lift up--and then the bloody warning signs at the top--you knew it was for real.

hbomax10 karma

Ed: well, I WAS impervious to injury when I worked at Action Park... Colorado River Ride was great - fast, wet, and involved getting knocked around plenty - loved that one!

wllppr15 karma

Hi there! I found it interesting that most interviewees held an overall nostalgic view of Action Park despite the deaths/criminal negligence/insurance fraud that went on - and the tone of the documentary (or interviewees) felt almost disturbingly light-hearted for most of its runtime, even when describing serious injuries and deaths. How did questions of tone and representation factor into your interviewing and editing process, and do you think the documentary successfully strikes a balance in this regard?

hbomax21 karma

SETH: To me, the movie is largely about how nostalgia can be used to mask trauma or horror. It wouldn't have been enough to simply do a Serial-style deconstruction of this place. We wanted to put you in the position of a 1980s teenager excited to attend Action Park. We wanted people to understand the appeal of it before the darker truth is revealed because that's why Action Park is worthy of study and conversation: Because it was dangerous AND appealing. That's why it feels relevant today, when people willfully put themselves in dangerous situations for fun or some misguided concept of "freedom." The movie is about understanding why people do that—then and perhaps now.

In addition, Action Park has largely become something people laugh about. A myth and a legend. We needed to make that clear to people who may not be familiar with AP, before pulling the curtain back. This is how Gen-X kids grew up and how they look back at their childhoods. They experienced messed up and dangerous things that they look back at with a shake of their head and a smile. Because, honestly, what else can you do? Laughter is what happens when your brain is short-circuited and no other response will work. It's not laughter because it's good or funny. It's laughter in the same way a caveman might laugh after narrowly escaping a saber-tooth tiger.

isthishandletaken10 karma

I enjoyed the first half of the film where the nostalgia was off the charts exploring the rides in the park, but when we learned of the deaths (especially the family that was interviewed) I lost all ability to sympathize with the park owner. I found the end of the film to be in bad taste, going back to the nostalgia and implying that the owner was somehow a good man because he helped with charities. I know this was hard to juggle and obviously you want to present all sides, but I found it to be a misstep in an otherwise really enjoyable film. Can you defend your choices here?

edit; Now that this has been asnwered; I will just say for the record that I felt that the filmmakers we're trying to have their cake and eat it to. No matter what they say about the people they interviewed not holding the same opinions as them, they chose which clips to include and presented the story in a way that felt off putting to me. The film reveled in the nostalgia and mythology of the park for over an hour, but only paid a short amount of the runtime to the deaths (only one family was interviewed and one case examined while every single ride was examined and had multiple people discussing them). They wanted to make a nostalgia film but knew they would be criticized if they didn't include the wrongful deaths. Well, they added it in, but wanted to wrap up the film on a more positive note, so they went back to the comedian interview. The last shot of the family at the grave was a throw-in and felt like it was fighting the still somewhat nostalgic tone of the final scene.

hbomax18 karma

SETH: I don't think we implied he was a good man at all. Jessi (who said that stuff) knew Gene for many years and she told us point blank: "If you only include me saying bad things about him, you are being deceptive in your film because my relationship with him was more complex than that." She even says in the movie: "I'm not standing before you saying he was a good, benevelent man" just that he was a man capable of goodness. The movie is Socratic in nature. We aren't telling you what to think: Just guiding you to the edge for you to make the final leap yourself. I can understand that being frustrating for a viewer who feels like they were led all the way to a certain conclusion and not handed that as an easy out.

(Also, please don't mistake what people we interviewed said as being the POV of the filmmakers. To us, this was largely a movie about the people of Vernon and what they believed and experienced. Many characters in the movie have differing takes on things and may even contradict each other. That's very much the point.)

technoTragedy10 karma

For Ed: What was the most nerve-wracking experience when you worked there and you genuinely thought someone might die?

hbomax12 karma

Ed: Well, I watched a speedboat go out of control once, because the operator panicked and held the throttle pinned. The boat hit a lower dock, went airborne, and landed on an upper dock - propeller still spinning full speed. A coworker pulled the kill cord on the motor, and it kept running, never missed a beat! The boat slid backwards into the pond and eventually stalled.

technoTragedy15 karma

Well that sounds like a Final Destination scene waiting to happen...

Yardley017 karma

For certain park guests it was their final destination

hbomax6 karma

Chris: I see what you did there.

hbomax2 karma

Ed: the comedy in that scene was when my friend and coworker Pete tried to hold on to the boat and was slowly pulled into the water. I was nice enough to jump in and snatch his two-way radio from the holster before it got wet...

Double-Piccolo14710 karma

Did Action Park stay all year round or did it go back to a Ski resort during winter? If so - how did that transition work?

hbomax9 karma

Ed: we removed some of the rides, covered some others, and ran the ski area on the same Action Park ground - took us from closing day of ski season (mid March) until Memorial Day working 7 days a week to get it done.

hbomax6 karma

SETH: I'd love Ed's thoughts on the logistics of the transition, but it was only open during the summer as Action Park before transitioning to ski-land for the winter. AP was largely staffed by seasonal employees (summer break-in high school kids and a large contingent sent in from other countries)

HRHLilyRose10 karma

What is the worst injury you saw, and did anyone ever get injured but wanted to ride the ride again?

hbomax10 karma

Ed: I guess the one we saw quite a bit was those visitors that would throw themselves into deep water rides only to nearly drown before being rescued by a lifeguard - most of them went right back at the same ride after they were out of the water...hence the CFS wristband

Hyppocritesareright5 karma

I'm guessing the CFS stood for Can't Fucking Swim?

hbomax11 karma

Ed: when we were asked that question we replied "Careful Friendly Swimmer" of course!

SpaceJackRabbit9 karma

If there was a way to make any of Action Park's rides come back to life in a much safer form, which one(s) would you want to go on with your kids?

hbomax20 karma

SETH: Alpine Slide. Though some of the old rides are still there! The park is now called Mountain Creek and is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. If you're interested in Action Park history/lore, it's amazing to go on Colorado River Ride (though now you have to wear a full lacrosse-style face mask to avoid smashing your face), Surf Hill (the huge jump is no longer there), the Wave Pool (no longer nearly as insane/murky), or the Cliff Dives (the higher cliff point is now closed). The current management is top-notch. Really a great place.

hbomax12 karma


hbomax6 karma

Seth: OH! Yes. We had one at a drive-in screening in Brooklyn and getting to step inside it... you could feel the ghosts. Would 100% ride this.

hbomax7 karma

Ed: my son is only 10, so he missed all of Action Park - but he's ridden Alpine Slides in Oregon and Colorado. He loves those rides - and the Mountain Coasters that are all over the country/world now.

cassinonorth2 karma

I'd say half are still there today. The rope swing, the speed slides, alpine slide (though in a totally more safe modern format). And the water is still absolutely freezing.

hbomax4 karma

SETH: Tarzan Swing closed a couple of years ago and the speed slide is VERY different from what it was. It was rebuilt to be much more in line with a typical waterpark's steep slide. Not nearly what it was back then. And the "Alpine Coaster" has a real track, so you aren't flying off it (good thing too)

ayyitswonderwall8 karma

Were there stories too crazy/dark/illegal that you couldn't include in the doc?

hbomax11 karma

SETH: There were certainly some stories that people wouldn't say on camera (Ed: I'm looking at you!) that were pretty nuts. Other stuff we simply didn't have time/room for. Like the full story behind the MAC-10 machine gun (somebody else we spoke to actually FOUND the gun in Gene's office drawer and had some fun with it before another employee stole it.) Also: Gene had a panic button in Gene's desk that did NOT go to the local police. You can perhaps use your imagination as to where it might have gone to.

revdave8 karma

Have you heard stories about amusement parks in other countries that were/are also bonkers? I've been to Xel-Há in Mexico and I kept thinking to myself "we could never have something like this in the US."

Loved the doc, by the way. Quite a ride!

hbomax8 karma

SETH: I also like reading about the North Korean amusement park that has people pretend to be patrons so Western/VIP parkgoers don't feel like they are in an empty amusement park. People just follow you around to create the illusion of activity.

hbomax7 karma

SETH: Look up Spreepark in East Germany.

EatARape7 karma

Chris Scott thank you for going no the Stanhope podcast last week. It was interesting to see how you approach your job and being approached by people to shoot their "stories".

Besides WhiskeyGirl/NowhereMan, do you have any other stories you're thinking of working on, or ones you'd like to but dont think people would love?


hbomax6 karma

CHRIS: I have several ideas in the works as we speak. Including NMWG. That story is insane! But my last three documentaries have come by way or people saying "Hey I have a story." Including Action Park. GO KILLER TERMITES!

koreanabduljabbar7 karma

Loved the doc! You had such great footage, it really transported me to that time and world. How much of that footage did you not use? And what would you have included if you had more time?

hbomax9 karma

Seth: We have hours of footage that wasn't used (and hours of phone calls with Gene). The shots we picked were chosen because they illustrated points being discussed by our interview subjects. Many people who created home movie footage would do things like camp out at the cliff dives or Tarzan swing and just film it for 30 minutes straight. No need to show all 30 minutes of that one ride, but we have loads of stuff like that.

KilgoretheTrout557 karma

Was there ever a class action lawsuit?

How much of these stories are hyperbolic? I have no doubt it was a shit show, but decapitated dummies seems like the kind of detail decades of nostalgia adds.

hbomax7 karma

Seth: The only specific "Class Action" suit involved bond issues/investors (Ed can answer more on this). The nickname "Class Action Park" came to be because... well... the park was called "Action Park". Along with "Traction Park" and "Accident Park," it's what we called it back in the day.

True story: "Traction Park" as a nickname was widely popularized by David Letterman, who regularly mentioned it and did a ton to build the myth in the early days.

SaintNattygrumpo6 karma

What's the weirdest or craziest thing you ever saw a patron out employee do at the park?

hbomax27 karma

Ed: I saw a guy come down the Alpine Slide and keep the stick full forward (fast!) all the way to the bottom. There were tires fastened at the end of the slide as bumpers and he hit the tire full speed, and did a front flip, landed on his feet on the deck. He definitely did it on purpose, and executed it perfectly. He still got ejected from the park though...

chrishtine6 karma

If Action Park was still open, would you go?

What would your day schedule at the park be?

hbomax6 karma

Ed: Hell yes! I'd start with the Alpine Slide, and Bungee rides, then move to Water World, then finish the day doing laps on the Lolas in Motorworld.

Due_Dragonfruit_66315 karma

The doc makes it seem like it was ran just by kids. Outside of Uncle Gene - were there actually any adults overseeing the operation?

SchroedingersSphere9 karma

Grew up in Vernon. A lot of us ended up working at Action PArk/Mountain Creek in High school. There were certainly adults there, but you could tell how inexperienced most people were. I applied as a lifeguard one summer, went through the training, and immediately said, "This is not for me. Someone's going to die on my watch" and never ended up working a shift there myself.

hbomax10 karma

Chris: What amazing self awareness.

hbomax8 karma

Seth: Ed can answer more to this, but folks like the Director of Operations would have been the token "adult in charge". Park area managers were largely children.

hbomax2 karma

Ed: chronologically some of us were grownups - but kids in all other ways. Ride attendants ranged from 16-22 for the most part. greatest number were around 18. Supervisors were generally early 20's, managers late twenties to early 30's

Sphinxus5 karma

Can you guys please share the stories that you didn't use? This shit needs to be a raunchy ass TV Show (Like Blue Mountain State Level)

hbomax9 karma

Chris: There was a prison not too far from AP. Once there was an escape. Three prisoners cut loose. Two were apprehended immediately, the other was caught days later as he was waiting in line on the Colorado River Ride.

hbomax9 karma

Seth: What I love about this anecdote is that this guy on the lam clearly thought the laws of society (and police) simply don't apply in Action Park.

hbomax7 karma

SETH: Employees found all sorts of ways to "plus up" the ride experiences. At the cliffs, they would climb nearby trees to add another 10-15 feet to the jump and then go over the cliffs. Somebody showed me photos of this.

hbomax5 karma

SETH: The employees had special "white"-colored Alpine Slide cars that were modified to go extra fast. Also, how they would dry the Alpine Slide when it rained is the stuff of nightmares. Would love to hear Ed explain more on that....

FilmandBeats5 karma

The documentary was very well done. Great job to all of you. From a storytelling/narrative perspective, was it difficult to find that balance between making it a humorous documentary while also showing how fucked up the fraud and deaths were?

hbomax6 karma

Seth: That juxtaposition became the entire point of the movie to me. How a place that was the site of so much fun and coming-of-age-ness could also be the site of so much heartache and pain. It wasn't about balancing the two, but about showing people how the two could and did live so close to each other. That's what made the place so interesting, and why the tonal shift is so sudden. In real life, the distance between the best and worst day of your life could be a mere second.

Togapr335 karma

There was this sentiment in the movie that the times were free(er) and that kids were able to be more independent than in today's world --- a kin that most of the commentators shared --- do you all think this is still true?

If so, how is it negatively impacting kids in the united states?

hbomax11 karma

SETH: I think it's a tempting oversimplification to say that one way was better than the other between the latchkey upbringing of the 80s vs. what we have today. One of the big questions we wanted to answer with the film was basically: "Why are yester-year's latchkey kids today's helicopter parents?" The same people who look back fondly at their upbringing are insistant that they would never, ever allow their kids to go through it as well. Nostalgia has a built-in survivor's bias. The folks who look back fondly at it are the ones who made it. That doesn't mean they aren't allowed to love their upbringing—or even laugh about it. But it's important to remember that there was a real toll to such an existance. And some people didn't make it.

hbomax9 karma

Ed: I agree - most of us would be called "feral children" today

hbomax7 karma

NOT CHRIS: Ed the thought of you shirtless, hairy and scourging for food is an image that does something for me.

hbomax3 karma

NOT Ed: ...I'll see if I can dig up a picture for you then

hbomax7 karma

Chris: It was true. Parenting techniques and ways were a lot different during the AP times. What strikes me is that all the people I know and that we spoke to, LOVED growing up with that type of freedom but WILL NOT, allow there kids those same liberties today. Why do you think that is?

hbomax3 karma

Ed: sometimes I worry that we're raising kids that perceive the world as a "safe" place - and it's just not. I think everyone needs to learn to see the danger that's around them and make a personal decision on what level of risk is acceptable, and whether the potential consequences of doing something are worth the risk(s) involved.

just_commenting5 karma

Seth, did you once attend a summer camp for gifted youth?

hbomax5 karma


just_commenting2 karma

Hey, cool! I thought your name looked familiar. Nice to see that you're doing well; I'll have to check out the film!

hbomax3 karma

Seth: What was your name (or first name)? I remember an astonishing amount from those times

FewReturn2sunlitLand4 karma

How did Action Park influence amusement park laws and regulations at the time?

hbomax6 karma

SETH: Ed may have a different insight into this, but I don't think it did. The park's closure was largely due to financial reasons/bankruptcy and the place suffered virtually no fines or citations. There was never a moment when legislators were like "We can't have Action Park happen again!" That just sort of happened naturally as times, regulations, and general social attitudes evolved.

hbomax5 karma

Ed: carnival and amusement rides were regulated by the Department of Labor in NJ during the Action Park Years ("workplace safety"). After Action Park, and probably in some part due to the PR fallout that NJ saw from Action Park, that function moved to the Department of Community Affairs - they have taken a much stronger position on amusement ride safety.

CanCan904 karma

Hi Ed- When you worked there, did you and your employee friends ever question Gene and things that were going on? Seems like everyone was busy having fun lol

hbomax3 karma

Ed: the last three years I was there, I spent a lot of time with Gene. I think he probably asked me more safety-related questions than I asked him. He and I always talked about the ways that any ride could be misused and what danger was inherent in using any ride. There were several times that he saw something happen and called me to say -"hey, we need to look at what were doing with this!" *spoken in the Gene voice*

Antique-Intern-73624 karma

Were there any other hilarious codes for the attendees besides CFS & Code Brown?

hbomax7 karma

CHRIS: This is not a secret code per se, but AP has a photographer on site that would take you and your groups photos with a Polaroid camera. And of course you could purchase that photo for a small fee. Well at the end of the day, the majority of these photos were not purchased. So what the employees did was they cut out a large silhouette of a whale and tacked it onto an employees lounge wall. They then collected the photos of the largest individuals, tacked them to that whale, and they called it the "Whaling Wall!"

hbomax5 karma

Ed: when someone with a two-way radio noticed a couple engaging in "inappropriate PDA" it would be called over the radio as "we've got a matinee behind the Colorado River Ride..."

hbomax3 karma


hbomax5 karma

SETH: This document comes via Mark (the security guard in our film). It's the security codes they would call in on the radio when something happened and they needed backup. The most commonly used ones were for first aid and fights: https://imgur.com/a/j9U8qvt

jretrogaming4 karma

I remember going on the “Cannonball Loop” looping water slide. I still tell stories about having to be hosed off before going down. Could certainly feel it a bit in my neck after riding, but I don’t recall it being THAT bad. Maybe I was just lucky, or was it generally “safe” after the employee testing period?

hbomax6 karma

Ed: I'll never forget that the hose we sprayed people down with at the top of the slide was always ice cold - everyone screamed when we sprayed them

hbomax3 karma

SETH: They never got it to work right so that everybody who went through would actually make it through unscathed. The issue is that, unlike a roller coaster, everybody's body is a different variable in terms of size, friction, etc... and doesn't act the same way in the looping tube. Too much inconsistancy. Consider yourself luckiy.

BeefSerious4 karma

How could you not call it "Traction Park"?

That's what we lovingly called it when we used to go.

hbomax2 karma

SETH: We considered it.

waa04214 karma

Thanks for the AMA, you guys!

Did anyone ever get stuck at the bottom of the Cannonball Loop and then someone else come barreling down behind them without knowing? If so, what was the result of this?


hbomax6 karma

Ed: well, we could see the bottom of the ride from the top, so we made sure one came out every time one went in. If one went in and none came out, we'd walk over to the hatch at the bottom of the loop and there would be a scared face looking up through the 4" window. We'd let them out, and usually close the ride for repairs

hbomax4 karma

Seth: Nope and Ed will explain why...

FewReturn2sunlitLand3 karma

There were a lot of rumors about the park—mainly the decapitated dummy. Were you guys able to confirm any of them as true or false, or did you focus on other things in the documentary?

hbomax5 karma

SETH: We confirmed loads of "rumors". Ed himself drove a Lola Car on Route 94 (something that had been whispered about as legend for years). You don't need to make up AP stories. The truth is crazy enough.

spmahn3 karma

Why were the interviews with Andy Mulvihill several years old? Did he decide he didn’t want to participate once he started writing his book?

hbomax6 karma

SETH: They were unused footage from prior interviews I'd done with him. He declined to participate in our film and I felt the label was important so as to not be deceptive about his participation or lack thereof. FWIW: I think his book is definitely worth reading if you're interested in the subject.

war3rd3 karma

As someone who used to never come home from Action Park without an injury I think you guys did a great job. I was hoping for a little more on this ride, but the two guys talking about the big water slide we used to call "the enema" (and yes, I've seen people crapping their shorts as soon as they got off the slide) were hilarious and perfect... The laughter.... My wife finally understands.

My question... Did you guys really remember how dangerous it was and decided to make the film, or what was the actual impetus of the documentary? Personally, I remember knowing people had died, going back and back anyway, and left with bad injuries a few times, but always thought of it as "just part of the fun" because I was young and stupid. I have told my wife a few stories about that place over the years, but not until we watched your film did she really believe me about just how dangerous a place it was, she thought I was exaggerating.

Thanks for the film, though, great work and I'm looking forward to your next one!

hbomax6 karma

SETH: I went to AP as a kid and had a hard time coming to terms with my memories. They didn't seem to square with my version of how society and the world was supposed to work. The impetus for the film was learn the truth behind a place that had largely been relegated to myth and legend.

war3rd4 karma

Myth and legend is right. My friends and I still re-live memories of how absolutely bat-shit insane that place was. Ever since you released that doc my friends and I have been talking to each other about how our friends and families didn't believe our stories but now they do. Thanks for validating us! :)

hbomax6 karma

Seth: Would hug you if I could

LouisSeize3 karma

I still cannot believe I was dumb enough to go on the "race cars." As I think about it, they were quite dangerous, virtually no instruction was given and it was a prescription for a mass casualty event. Did you include this?

By the way, I seem to recall the nickname, Traction Park.

hbomax5 karma

SETH: The LOLA cars were something else. Closer to Indy race cars than a go-kart, and right next to the beer tent. People got drunk and treated them like bumper cars or would drive off the track and just drive around wherever they felt like. Truly nuts. And truly fast: Up to 60mph or more.

apreche3 karma

When I went to Action Park as a kid I remember there was a beach volleyball court there. On the court they had a supposedly professional player. If you could beat them, you would supposedly win something. We tried to get as many people as we could to cover our half of the court, but couldn't score against that guy.

Was this a real memory or something my brain imagined? If it was real, who was the volleyball player? Did anyone ever score against him? What was the deal?

hbomax5 karma

SETH: That sounds like something that would have happened at AP (which had a "Gladiator Challenge" attraction that was similar in that you could joust giant athletes). Unless Ed has the answer, I'll do some investigating and get back to you but I'm inclined to believe it.

snarfydog3 karma

Did anyone ever fall off the side of the highest straight dropping slide? (I forget what it was called).

hbomax3 karma

Ed: no, but the ride attendants used to like to dive into that slide from the start deck - scared the hell out of me...

hbomax3 karma

SETH: The net at the top ensured bodies wouldn't fly off.

SchroedingersSphere2 karma

H2 Oh No I believe

hbomax3 karma

SETH: That's what the Mountain Creek version is called. It's scary, but nowhere near what the Super Speed Slides were like.

sclywgz3 karma

Hi Ed: Was the tall Kamikaze slide ever open without the tarp at the top? I remember my face sliding against that when you first dropped. And I still can’t sit down

hbomax3 karma

Ed: the Speed Slides were the slides with the vertical drop at the top that needed a net over the top 10' or so. The were originally opened without the net, but when we tested it we realized that it would be too easy for someone to tumble down the face of the slide, or fly out of it in the "zero gravity" portion.

the-silent-man3 karma

What's your favorite thing you learned while researching Action Park?

hbomax8 karma

CHRIS: The fake insurance company! That was so on brand for Gene. It was surprising that he got away with it. Or kinda got away with it.

hbomax7 karma

Ed: I think that if Gene hadn't chosen the Cayman Islands as the address for the fake insurance co, he might have gotten away with it.

hbomax4 karma

SETH: Just how much the danger was crucial to the APPEAL of the park. It didn't scare people away--it drew them in. Everybody knew what could happen at this place. It's why they went.

hbomax7 karma

Ed: Gene definitely understood that the danger aspect of the Park was a draw. He saw early on that every time there was an incident, or a news piece talking about how Dangerous Action Park was, attendance went up

HumanFart3 karma

How did Chris Gethard get involved with the Doc? Loved it by the way!

hbomax7 karma

SETH: He was in my 2013 short on the topic and really stole the show there. He was able to contextualize Action Park within a 1980s NJ upbringing in a way that truly changed how I thought about the park. He's also just a genius comedian.

everydayeddy953 karma

What are some of your favorite National Geographic documentaries you suggest I watch?

hbomax7 karma

SETH: Anything with penguins. The 1980s doc series from a few years back was pretty great too.

ItsCajunTime3 karma

How did you find some of the old footage? I was shocked to learn and see a lot of things that I didn't know about action park so I'd love to know how you got some of that footage.

hbomax4 karma

SETH: It was a treasure hunt. I'd been in the Action Park world for a number of years since we put out the short in 2013, so lots of it just sort of came to my inbox. Others we dug out of people's attics and garages. Chris found some when he was golfing with a random guy who went there and his mom ended up having a tape. Some short clips had been uploaded to Youtube so reaching out to the uploaders often resulted in massive quantities of unuploaded footage. And we put the Bat Signal up and many people reached out to us. Add in some old AP ads and a killer episode of Headbanger's Ball.

snarfydog2 karma

Do you think people realized how dangerous it was? I went to a sleepaway camp and in retrospect find it pretty funny that they brought us every year (though we weren't allowed on the alpine slide or wave pool).

hbomax4 karma

SETH: They knew... and they didn't. People called it "Accident" and "Traction Park" because it had this reputation. But I think people put too much faith in the idea that you were in control of your destiny and that if you got hurt it's because you did something wrong. Many of the rides were poorly designed and (to quote Ralph Nader) unsafe at any speed. Or you could be doing everything right and some kid could smash into you and seriously injure you. Or you could fly off an Alpine Slide car because you didn't know the specific place to brake and redistribute your body weight. A lot of injuries were not the injured party's fault, and I believe the myth of Action Park as a place of ultimate self-responsibility obscures this fact.

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Ed: some people definitely recognized the danger, but you have to remember that most of us grew up riding pedal-brake bikes down steep hills with no helmet, riding unrestrained in the back of station wagons on the highway at 75 mph, and launching ourselves 20 ft into the air on rope swings made from discarded hemp rope. Different times, different standards

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What is your favorite amusement park?

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SETH: Tokyo DisneySea obviously

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Chris: I hate amusement parks.

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Are you familiar with the Shellac album “at action park”? That’s the only thing I know about action park, but based on reading the comments it seems like a pretty wild place that fits right in with shellac’s music

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SETH: Yep, though I listen to Big Black a bit more.

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Question for Ed:

What do you eat for breakfast? Is it Youmans?

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Ed: dangerous amusement rides!

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Ed: ...and coffee

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Omg - I haven't watched yet but I'm dying to because I'm utterly haunted by the memory of the enema-giving waterslide! I told my friend about it because it seriously bothered me my whole life, like... I thought I couldn't go down a waterslide like a "normal person" because everyone else was going down it fine so I must be a freak. He watched your film and said that apparently the goddamn waterslide did that to like everyone! I HATE THOSE BASTARDS WHO CREATED THAT PSYCHOTIC THING! I was poo-peeing chlorinated water for like a day after going on that fucking slide! I also vaguely recall always seeing bloodied children whenever I visited as a kid. What an insane place. I plan to watch soon, and hopefully get some closure. Thank you for making this!

Edit to add a question: did you go down that water slide and get enema'd too? All I care about is that damn waterslide. Scarred me. And probably my colon.

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SETH: I didn't do the Super Speed Slide. It's hard to explain how much higher and straighter it was than a typical steep waterslide. The net at the top was necessary to keep bodies from flying off.

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"These are the most amazing rides in the world. I love it here". Anyone know the boy who said this on the 1983 commercial? Thought it would be cool to see him interviewed on class action park.

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SETH: Yep. He was an employee who I believe Andy spoke to for his book (they were friends).

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Loved the movie! I was most familiar with the Cannonball Loop due to it being the first real looping waterslide, but didn't know about the other almost equally insane waterslides and attractions.

It seems like Action Park was a place most people wanted to go to to see if it really was as insane as advertised and to say that they had been there and survived it. Any idea how much repeat business there was? Were there regulars with season passes or families that'd come every year, or did most people survive it once and that was enough?

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SETH: Huge amount of repeat business. The danger didn't scare people off, it drew them in. I imagine that for some people, the rush and thrill was almost addictive. Many people we spoke to talk about how they basically "grew up" at Action Park--meaning they were there almost every day during summers. Also: Not much else to do in the area if you're a teenager in the 80s.

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Disregarding safety, any favourite ride? Also any favourite moment when making the film?

Edit: PS.Would you still recommend anyone to go to action park after the pandemic?

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CHRIS: my favorite part of making the film is when Jessi - the local newspaper editor - revealed she had recorded her telephone calls with Gene AND STILL HAD THE TAPES!!! I knew then this documentary was going to be gold.

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SETH: Getting the tapes out of her attic was a story in itself. And finding a way to play microcassettes. One thing I learned; They don't sell microcassette players at Stapes or Best Buy these days.

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How would this park fare in todays world and restrictions? What charges would be filed? How would people react to the deaths and injuries?

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Ed: I can't even imagine anyone seriously entertaining the idea of opening something like Action Park in the US today. Just wouldn't make it through the permitting phase.

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SETH: It wouldn't last a month. Unless the owner was even MORE politically connected. Then, who knows. CREAM and all that.

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Did you ever get to tide the cannon ball loop? Sorry if you’ve answered this one

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SETH: I did not. Ed just told me he was too afraid to do it, but regrets never doing it. If only for the story.

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How does the height and steepness of the speed slide that had the net over it compare to the highest/steepest speed slides found in currently open water parks?

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SETH: Steeper, scarier than any you've seen. To top it off, it sat at the very tippy top of a mountain so you FEEL like you're even higher up because the entire mountain is below you.

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If I went to Mountain Creek (the water park formerly known as Action Park) today, what attractions would most closely provide the same feelings you got from Action Park?

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CHRIS: The Cliff Jumps. Still there. Still high AF. During filming I was determined that I would jump off the highest one before we left New Jersey. I did. Uninjured. But much more a man.

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SETH: Surf Hill, Colorado River Ride, Wave Pool, Cliff Dives. Colorado River and Cliff Dives are probably "closest" to a similar experience as back in the day. Tarzan and Cannonball Falls were open until just a couple of years ago, and would have topped the list then as they were effectively the same experience (short the screaming 1980s NJ kids taunting you for face-planting)

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Was Andy M. consulted for the film? Did you receive any feedback from him?

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SETH: We chatted quite a bit prior to production, which he declined to participate in. He has his own projects related to AP going on with the book and whatnot.

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What was your favorite ride at action park?

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Chris: Speedboats. I cannot believe that was a thing. They were like jet skis.

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I have to ask. The most ride I’m intrigued with is the Cannonball Loop. Seth, since you’ve been there, have you actually slid down that slide and what was it like or did you witness any other patrons go down that slide?

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SETH: I SAW people go down there but was told it was only open for park employees at that time. I asked why and was told "Some kid got stuck in it". You could feel the myths being born in the air around you in real time.

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I bet it was pretty unreal to see in person. I showed video of it to my 11 year old son and he said he would ride it in a heartbeat!

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Seth: The story behind how that footage of the loop in action came to be is pretty neat too. The former Director of Operations had been digging through his garage and found an old VHS tape marked "Action Park". He popped it in and found footage he had made years ago while testing out a camcorder at the park. At the very end was the Holy Grail: Footage of humans going down the Cannonball Loop.

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Ed: I'm not afraid of too much, but I was afraid to ride that ride at the time. I regret that, would've been great to have that experience in memory

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What's your least favorite number?

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Number 2. I love number 1. And being it. Which our documentary is now. I also hate 2020.

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Ed: 2020

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Was there ever a moment when you just had enough and wanted to walk away? If so what triggered it and why did you end up not walking away after all?

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Chris: In general or while making the documentary?

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In making the movie. Recreating some of the events had to be time consuming and technical to get shots of.

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SETH: Fortunately with a documentary like this, we aren't recreating any events. Though I would have enjoyed doing so for some of the rides.