2020 has been a rough ride, so I was happy to take the plunge into the wild waters of Class Action Park. This is a feature Documentary about the legendary, or infamous water park in rural New Jersey called Action Park.
I was aware of this now closed theme park because of the more controversial aspects which were featured prominently in the doc. Elements like the most dangerous water slide ever built, the cannonball loop. A steep decline ends into a completely vertical loop. Naturally, at the top of the loop gravity takes hold. Just looking at this ride evokes danger.
Action park made headlines for countless injuries and tragically, at least five deaths of guests at the park. Class Action Park goes deep into the perfect storm of conditions that would allow something like this to happen.
A park owner with questionable ethics and an equally dubious insurance policy for the theme park. Top that all with a “no rules” environment where teenage employees are responsible for daily operation and safety. All the medical incidents in the park led to fans giving it monikers like Traction Park, and the namesake, Class Action Park.
I personally have worked for two major theme parks (which will go unnamed), and can tell you that the crazy stories these former employees talk about absolutely happen at theme parks. You would not believe the kinds of things that go on behind the scenes. I am happy to see a documentary that finally shows the dark underbelly of the theme park world.
This doc gives you a wide range of perspectives by interviewing former park guests, employees, attorneys and even family members of one young man who lost his life at Action Park. I was impressed with how animated segments were used to re-enact the crazy events throughout the park’s history. Archival footage was also used to great effect. These combined mediums portray the full picture of this theme park experience and the one of a kind rides that made it a household name.
Action Park was largely a product of the 80’s, and the style of this doc perfectly captured that. When the retro title card came up at the beginning of the movie, It felt like home. Action Park opened in 1978 and closed in 1996. So, in many ways Class Action Park represents a time long gone but not forgotten. As a child of the 80’s this narrative spoke to me.
Class Action Park is a wild ride well worth taking. You can stand on that platform for hours, but you never really experience it until you step off. The pacing of this story is fast and stays on track. I highly recommend this documentary for anyone who enjoys going to theme parks. Class Action Park is now streaming on HBO Max.
– Curt Wiser is the Writer/Director of the Suspense movie Cam-Girl. He is happy to review the work of other filmmakers and share them with the world, especially if it brings back the 80’s feels.