They’re Kinda-Sorta Making an Action Park Movie

Action Park will star America’s favorite son, Johnny Knoxville.

These are the truest words that could ever be typed. I just wiped away a patriotic tear with a flaming eagle feather.

Here’s how Deadline describes the project:

“The film is casting up and is very much in the spirit of Knoxville’s last Paramount comedy Bad Grandpa. The logline: Imagine Knoxville and his cohorts have irresponsibly designed and operate their own theme park. What could go wrong?”

First of all, I’m always onboard for another Johnny Knoxville adventure. The man simply delights me.

Second, I have a raw-ass fetish for dangerous amusement parks. Especially Action Park. The real Action Park was my genuine “favorite shit” when I was a young warthog.

If you didn’t grow up in the Northeast, you’ve probably still heard of the legendary Action Park. It’s the often mentioned “most dangerous water park ever conceived.” Sometimes it’s called “Traction Park.” Rumors still circulate over just how dangerous it actually was. About the police interventions, the deaths, and the injuries… my god, the injuries.

Now, were these legends actually true, or just severely exaggerated?

Let me lay this out good and proper:

Action Park was the mother fucker. It was a goddamn horse-dicked wonderland of danger.

Let’s count off just a few of the horrific fun-tastic nightmares it had on offer, from memory. I’m not going to look any of this up. I will not discredit my cherished memories. If you want a detailed, carefully researched article about Action Park, the wikipedia entry is strikingly well-done. Have at you.

But here on Pure Filler? Today? Today, I’m printing the fucking legend.

Now, let’s rattle just a few of these off like Tall Tales of the wild frontier:

The Suislide

There was a slide affectionately known as “The Suislide.” Get it? Like “suicide.” I don’t know what it was really called. Hell, it might have actually been named “the Sui-slide” for all that my multiple-concussion-addled mind actually remembers. The point is, this thing was building-tall and dropped you straight down from an obscene height. At the bottom you’d hit a razor’s edge bare-minimal-est curve that would hopefully cancel terminal velocity. It was like jumping off a friggin’ building while the sheer speed of your fall burned and shredded your back. When you hit bottom, the impact would usually blow your swimsuit right the fuck off.

If you waited at the bottom of this thing for 20 minutes or so, you were one hundred percent guaranteed to see some naked people from every possible angle as their corpses rag-dolled down the landing strip. Very educational.

That slide ruled.

The Cannon Slide

As you might guess, this attraction was a slide shaped like a cannon. It was pitch black inside and seemed to last about 15 seconds longer than you ever thought possible. That may not seem like a lot of time, but I assure you: it was Navidson’s 5-and-a-half minute hallway in water slide form.

You never quite knew when it would end, but you’d also never be stupid enough to lift up your head to check. This was Action Park. You were riding inside a giant ship-to-ship pirate weapon. Any Action Parker worth their salt knew how dangerous a risk lifting their head would be. For all we knew they added whirring blades to the top of this thing, just as a punishment to the dimwitted.

At the eventual end, the slide spit you out a literal ten-foot drop into a freezing cold pond.

Terrifying. Incredible.

The Alpine Slide

There are “alpine slides” in parks all over the world. These are terrible, controlled boredom projects where children can slowly pilot a weird little car down a stone track. A track built for cowards. Action Park’s Alpine Slide was strictly reserved for the ruggedest bitches only.

In Action Park there were no limits. No safety breaks. No safety guards to stop you from driving too fast.

The only safety warning you’d see was posted at the top of the mountain, presented like heads on stakes. The staff posted photos of the wounded: the splintered shredded and bloodied legs of those who ignored good sense and dared to speed directly toward the sun.

It was a pantheon of fallen heroes.

You could ride as fast as you wanted. It was possible to make it all the way down the mountain without ever laying off the throttle. You could do it. You knew you could. The staff strongly hinted at it. You just needed to know how to drift. How to ride. How to soar.

The only thing standing in your way of ultimate glory was your own fear.

Could you conquer it? Would you become the hero? Was today your day?

The Cliff Dive

Finally, let me tell you about the 25-foot-high cliff. There wasn’t a line. You just jumped off it and landed in an active swimming pool. That’s it. That was the whole ride. You silently leapt and tried not to drop a devastating elbow on some hapless fools down below.

Still, just in case, it was always good form to yell “SURPRISE, MOTHER FUCKERS!” on your way down. That was just the right thing to do.

And no, the park staff did not reprimand anyone for foul language. They didn’t care what you did. At all. Ever.

If you asked them if something was safe, they all responded lock-step with “Can ya swim?” They said this even if the ride didn’t have a water component.

I forget if they served booze at the park. It seems like something they’d do. Letting a blood-crazed horde of suicidal lunatics get torn up on tequila shots and throw themselves down various pits seems correct. Everything about Action Park seemed correct. Print the legend. We were all drunk at 12-years-old.

Action Park is a place in your heart where you know you’re truly free. Where life was cheap and violent death brought ultimate glory.

It was a place too beautiful to exist… and that’s why “The Man” had to tear it down.

These were just a few of the attractions. There was a “Tarzan Swing” where the clumsy would belly-flop 40 feet down to the delight of a screaming crowd. There was a bungie jump that was basically just a bungie jump… I just wouldn’t trust Action Park’s attention to safety harness detail. The straps were probably lined with razor blades.

There was even a rumored “full loop” slide that I’d never tried. Apparently, it was so dangerous even Action Park decided that it probably wasn’t a bright idea to open to the general public.

Now, it doesn’t really seem like this upcoming Johnny Knoxville movie is actually about my beloved Action Park. But it does seem like the spirit of the park is still alive in it.

Action Park, if you haven’t gathered, means a lot to me. One time I went there with my dad… and the bloodlust took him completely. He didn’t beat his chest and headbutt all passersby as a kindred spirit, but he clearly “got it.” I wish my damn brother had been old enough to experience this madness with us. Either he would be joining me in praising it, or I’d be praising his body as a worthy sacrifice to Valhalla… as I’d assume he would for me.

Long may Action Park reign.

Action Park:

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . .

So now, less than twenty years later, you can drive down I-287 and look out at Vernon, New Jersey… and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.