'World's Most Dangerous' Waterpark Documentary with ‘Insane Stories’ Coming to HBO Max in August
The documentary features tales from stars who visited, including Jimmy Kimmel and Johnny Knoxville
The "world’s most dangerous amusement park” is coming to HBO Max.
In September 2019, PEOPLE shared the news that the first feature-length documentary about the now-closed Action Park in Vernon, New Jersey, was in the works. And on Wednesday, it was revealed that the film will premiere on the platform this August.
Titled Class Action Park (a nod to the many lawsuits filed against the park), the film sheds light on the waterslide park's gruesome history. A hot spot for many kids in the New Jersey area in the 1980s and ‘90s, it became infamous for both thrills and absolute chaos — including countless injuries and six fatalities linked to the park during its 18 years in operation.
Created by filmmakers Chris Charles Scott and Seth Porges, the documentary will feature unearthed clips and recordings, newly discovered documents, original animations and interviews with people who visited the park and lived to tell the tale — including celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel and Johnny Knoxville.
The filmmakers promise to reveal how the attraction came to be and the sordid means by which it stayed open for nearly two decades through the memories of those who experienced it firsthand — most of whom blame absent safety standards, fake insurance, an abundance of alcohol and under-trained teenage employees for its grisly reputation.
“To some, New Jersey's infamous Action Park was the most spectacularly fun amusement park on Earth: A place where unruly 1980s teenagers were given free rein to go gonzo on strange contraptions that seemed to violate the laws of common sense (and perhaps physics),” reads a press release announcing the premiere. “To others, it was an ill-conceived death trap. One thing is sure: It's the type of place that will never exist again.”
“Class Action Park brings feelings of nostalgia even if you didn’t grow up going to this infamous New Jersey amusement park,” said Sarah Aubrey, the head of original content at HBO Max, in the press release. “The insane stories of lawlessness and injury are an unbelievably wild ride.”
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The absurdities of Action Park also gained attention recently in response to the June 30 release of a book titled, “Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America's Most Dangerous Amusement Park,” co-written by Andy Mulvihill, the son of Action Park’s eccentric founder, Gene Mulvihill.
According to the book, Gene, who died in 2012 and referred to himself as “the Walt Disney of New Jersey,” opened the park in 1978 as a way to profit from his Vernon Valley ski resort during the summer months. Andy wrote the book through his eyes, trying to understand his father’s quest for glory and describing his role as one of the young employees at the park — a job during which he says he and his colleagues were forced to safety test the wild rides before they opened to the public.
“He really didn’t think he did anything wrong,” Andy recently told the Washington Post of his father. “He thought he had a clever way of reducing his cost for insurance [but was] sloppy in the way he executed it. I can tell you, he did not stay awake at night worrying about lawsuits. My dad was not a worrier, he was a doer.”
Class Action Park will premiere on HBO Max in August 2020.