Action Park

Oh, growin’ up …. (Yes, hopefully, you’re hearing that the way Springsteen sings it.)

One of the things I’m fascinated with is how people change; or don’t. Not as individuals — but how different an experience it is to be a teen in 2013, 2003, 1993, 1983, 1973 — well, you get the picture.

Some things change, some things remain the same.

It’s one of the reasons I like reading historical contemporary teen books. Historical not meaning historical fiction; historical meaning, books that were contemporary at the time they were published but now, because of the passage of time, offer a valuable window into a different time and place. Into history. (This is part of the reason I’m so looking forward to the Lizzie Skurnick books, because it’ll be so much easier to find the good older books!)

And one of the things that I’ve seen change, from my teen years to teens now (and yes I know not every teen, standard disclaimers on that) is the involvement of parents in the lives of teens, the type of freedom given to teens, and the regulation of teen lives.

All of this is a fancy way of saying

Action Park.

As part one explains, Inside the World’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park; part two is The Demise of the World’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park.

Want to understand, a bit, the different world that the teens of the late 70s, 80s, and early 90s grew up in?

Check out the two part documentary, in the above links.

See the rides that don’t even have have helmets as kids go down the side of a mountain. Listen to the people laugh about the injuries.

Some of my favorite quick quotes from the documentary:

“pretty wild ride. never quite perfected”

“the drownings were difficult. we had a few”

and finally:

“yeah, they may have scars ….. but they had fun”

True fact: even thought Action Park was in New Jersey, and open during my teen years, I never went. Geographically, Great Adventure and the Shore were closer.

But of course I’d heard about it and remember those commercials quite well.

So, did any of you go to Action Park? Do you have stories to tell? Did you have any parks like that while you were growing up?

Or, are you watching that thinking — no way, that’s impossible?




2 thoughts on “Action Park

  1. Action Park was incredible. I worked at Great Adventure as a teen (in the Haunted Castle as a ghoul) but for sheer thrills, Action Park was the place to go. My friends and I went quite a few times Between racing tiny speedboats to jumping off cliffs into deep pools and sliding down dark tubes into icy cold water, it was fantastic. I have friends who were permanently scarred on the bob sleds.


  2. Wow — that is something! When I look back at my childhood (more so than my teenhood), I am a little shocked at how much freedom to wander — not only around my suburban neighborhood, but in the vacant farmland and forest nearby — my parents gave me starting around age 6. This was in the mid-80s. Sometimes I think, “What were they thinking?!”

    But then there’s trick-or-treating. Every fall I’m so disappointed by how few children trick-or-treat anymore. My coworker says, “Times have changed. It’s more dangerous now.” And I’m like, really?! Are things really that much more dangerous than they were 30 years ago, that walking around the neighborhood with your parent or teenage sibling and collecting candy is that big a deal? What are we afraid of? I remember back in the 80s, there were rumors of razor blades in apples, but that was about it. Meanwhile, trick-or-treating happens so early that I’m not even home from work by the time it’s over; what happened to going at dusk? I genuinely can’t understand what has happened to make it more “dangerous” now than when I was a kid — or is it just that we’re more afraid of the things that have always been risks, and why? My coworker suggests that kids shouldn’t eat so much candy anyway… which, while I have trouble arguing the point, just seems sad.


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