Close your eyes and imagine you’re in your early to late teenage years and you live in the tristate area. Now imagine you and your group of friends head out to an amusement park built that has a reputation where there are zero rules and zero accountability. That amusement park is called ‘Action Park’. Located in Vernon, New Jersey, ‘Action Park’ served as a place where young people would go berserk. Anyone and everyone would go to this park, unsupervised and go home bleeding in some way shape or form. Some even went and never made it out alive.
‘Action Park’ served as a rite of passage for teens and young adults. If you didn’t go on a certain ride, you were heckled and called every vulgar obscenity known to man. ‘Action Park’ consisted of three major aera’s of attraction: Alpine Center, Motorworld, and Waterworld. “Action Park’s’ concept came from the brain power of Eugene Mulvihill. Mulvihill looked to cash in on the theme park trend that started to collect steam in the early 1970’s and 80’s. ‘Action Park’ quickly earned a reputation where Generation X’ers learned that life was not safe. You learn quickly that there is no bubble of protection around you and if you don’t get hurt – bruised or burned, you didn’t do it correctly.
Class Action Park features interviews from a slew of past employees who all spin the same story. Action park is No Man’s Land. It’s a literal Lord of the Flies where everything’s made up and the rules don’t matter. Park employees consisted of untrained teenagers who didn’t monitor anyone or anything that happened. It was a giant party every summer and Ownership allowed a raucous to occur.
As the summers went by, ‘Action Park’ garnered the reputation of being a no holds barred park titled Class Action Park. By all accounts from the interviewee’s, there was nothing wrong with that nickname. People died on these unsafe, unattended rides that people flocked to in the thousands. The park even sold alcohol amplifying the danger a thousand fold. Things got so bad that patrons would drink, get drunk and then drive the rides in Motorworld.
Leading the group of interviewees’ is comedian Chris Gethard who frequented ‘Action Park’ many times in his youth. He does a resounding job of describing the chaos that ensued when he would go there. This isn’t an amusement park where one person had a bad experience, this is the type of amusement park where everyone that went to it, had the same death defying experience.
Once the first fatality happened – George Larsson from riding the Alpine Slide, the true tone of this documentary takes shape. Gene is citied to have zero concern or a conscious when it came to park patrons. It’s told in the documentary that while testing the rides, Gene would offer $100 dollars to any employee who would assist in testing. Gene would con people who filed suits against him for deaths that legal fees would go through the roof.
George Larsson’s mother Esther showed no sympathy toward Gene when he passed, she even says her, and her husband celebrated by having champagne. The stories that are being recounted are horrifying – you want to look away, but you can’t. It’s one of the most interesting stories out there about real life survival. Director Seth Porges made the smart decision to have the horrors that were describes in full detail animated to make it less graphic, but the mind can picture the real thing. What happened to George and the others that died due to the lack of regulations and rules is terrible. Gene was such a con artist that he started his own insurance company because the park was uninsurable.
This is an evil human being and that is the beauty of a documentary. It’s shines a light in the shadows, it remembers those who lost loved ones and exposes hard truths. Its brutal what people have suffered because of this park, but at the same time it’s completely intriguing how these events took place from the inception to it’s demise.
Overall, Class Action Park is a thrill ride (no pun intended). Its baffling to think a place of this caliber existed forty short years ago. It’s a no holds barred retelling of this questionable park. Regardless of everything that happened at this park, this is an entertaining documentary that no one should miss. If I were to rate Class Action Park, I’d rate it a 4.5 out of 5.
So, tell me, have you seen Class Action Park and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
Class Action Park is directed by Seth Porges & Chris Charles Scott III is Unrated and has an 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Class Action Park was released in August, 2020 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. Class Action Park can be streamed on HBO Max.
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