August 01, 2009

Traction Park

Back in the day, when Ralph Nader was leading the charge of the nanny state, in northern NJ there was a place, a magical place.
They called it Action Park.
It was kind of like Disney World. If Disney World had been built by the criminally insane for the terminally stupid and/or hopelessly suicidal.
Or maybe it was what happened when you took a bunch of moonshine crazed rednecks and gave them enough money to buy a theme park and a bunch of NJ politicians. Most of the rides had to have started with a slurred "Let's see what happens".
Being a red-blooded, American male, 20 years old+/-, I loved it.
Disney has Magic Mountain?
Action Park had as its showcase attraction the Alpine Slide. The fifth most dangerous ride according to Popular Mechanic.
It was a concrete and fiberglass, curvy half-pipe where you sat on a piece of plastic and zoomed down a ski slope hill. On the way up, they had picture after picture of what happened to people on the ride.Since the lines were so long you got to spend a lot of time staring at the road rashed faces and bodies of previous riders. The lines never got shorter though.
The best part? They had a "pro" slide and, I think, two "amateur" slides. The amateur slides were so curvy you were almost guaranteed to crash if you went any faster than a turtle. The pro slides were much less curvy but had nice, banked curves. When you got up to speed, they gave you a great trajectory off the track and into the supports and rocks strewn below. The amateur slides kept you sliding along the half-pipe, so it was a wash.

They were also a water park, and there they made water slides as dangerous and heart-attack inducing as possible.
The worst, from my perspective, was this one where you jumped in and zoomed through a very curvy, underground tube for about 2 hours (+/- 1 hour, 59 minutes, 45 seconds)  in complete darkness, it was sort of like the ride in The Running Man except it was in darkness and you didn't have a car protecting you.
Then, you came out like 10 feet or more in the air above a pool.
I found out your heart could stop beating for up to 30 seconds without much brain damage.
That's also where I learned to not think about what you're about to do if it's really scary. I would get there, stare off into the distance for a second or two and jump. I always changed my mind about 3 seconds into that slide. 

Here we have what Popular Mechanics calls the most dangerous ride among their top 5. A sick ass water slide where you go zooming down a pipe into a loop-de-loop my Hot Wheels cars would have feared.
And then there's the fact that the ride's radical design seems to betray a lack of an understanding of basic physics. To wit: The ride runs through a perfect circle. Early-roller coaster engineers toyed with this design, with disastrous results. The high g-forces that are exerted when entering and exiting the inversion of a perfect circular loop are enough to break a person's neck (this is why all roller-coaster loops are elliptical or corkscrew-shaped).

Good times, good times. Too bad it was closed most of the time.

Another heart-stoppingly, terrorful ride was a slide where you climbed about a half-mile in the air, went through the tube and fell straight down for EVER! You weren't touching anything, you weren't even in the half-pipe, you just falling and couldn't look around to see how far you were from the "slide". At the botoom there was a "gentle" slope that caught you and shot you into a pool. Where you threw out a huge rooster tail and your bathing suit went up your ass and out your mouth.

The rope swing "ride" had three from different sides that could meet in the middle.
The goal of this attraction was to successfully swing over the bulk of the water and let go at the pinnacle of your swing; it rarely ever went that way though.

They had boat races where you just jumped in a boat and cruised around a circular island in a pond. It was like bumper cars with the added attraction of drowning or getting stuck in a propeller.

There was a tank thing where you rode in tanks and shot tennis balls at other tanks while people in the outside could man guns for a quarter and shoot tennis balls at the tanks or each other. Now, everybody was protected by a serious, metal mesh, so the riders couldn't get hurt, but....
When a tank would stall, the ride op would need to scramble out to fix the tank while patrons happily shot him with the tennis balls.

Yeah, that was me.

Action Park, you'll never be again and the world is a worse place for it.

Posted by: Veeshir at 03:57 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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