Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America's Most Dangerous Amusement Park Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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"Citizen Kane does Adventureland." (The Washington Post)
The outlandish, hilarious, terrifying, and almost impossible-to-believe story of the legendary, dangerous amusement park where millions were entertained and almost as many bruises were sustained, told through the eyes of the founder's son
Often called "Accident Park", "Class Action Park", or "Traction Park", Action Park was an American icon. Entertaining more than a million people a year in the 1980s, the New Jersey-based amusement playland placed no limits on danger or fun, a monument to the anything-goes spirit of the era that left guests in control of their own adventures - sometimes with tragic results. Though it closed its doors in 1996 after nearly 20 years, it has remained a subject of constant fascination ever since, an establishment completely anathema to our modern culture of rules and safety.
Action Park is the first-ever unvarnished look at the history of this DIY Disneyland, as seen through the eyes of Andy Mulvihill, the son of the park's idiosyncratic founder, Gene Mulvihill. From his early days testing precarious rides to working his way up to chief lifeguard of the infamous Wave Pool to later helping run the whole park, Andy's story is equal parts hilarious and moving, chronicling the life and death of a uniquely American attraction, a wet and wild 1980s adolescence, and a son's struggle to understand his father's quixotic quest to become the Walt Disney of New Jersey. Packing in all of the excitement of a day at Action Park, this is destined to be one of the most unforgettable memoirs of the year.
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|Listening Length||9 hours and 41 minutes|
|Author||Andy Mulvihill, Jake Rossen|
|Audible.ca Release Date||June 30 2020|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #69,051 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#239 in Popular Culture Studies (Audible Books & Originals)
#1,261 in United States History (Audible Books & Originals)
#1,444 in Popular Culture in Social Sciences
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However, we can tell from the start that the very casual attitude about Health and Safety from the park owner will turn into some serious issues later on. Highly predictable outcome.
I think the writer (the park owner's son) is quite casual about reporting accidents too, despite some quite serious and fatal. Doesn't seem to understand how serious the situations were, as per his father.
All in all, one of the best books I’ve read in a while. If u are a child of the 80’s, had poofy hair and owned a members only jacket, and lived in the northeast with experience in “traction park”, u will read this book in one sitting.
But while I always enjoyed my time there, I and all my friends knew that the park (which we endearingly referred to as “Accident Park”) was as dangerous as it was fun. Six people died as a result of injuries sustained in the park. Many thousands were injured in less than fatal ways. While the author does not gloss over this fact, he also does not seem to really “get” this on a deep level. The story he weaves in a glowing “aww shucks” tone is of his seemingly ADHD entrepreneurial father, a man who built the park out of sheer will (and dubious business practices) as a place where customers could indulge their sense of adventure and danger, skirting the boundaries of safety to achieve a rush of adrenaline. But there is never any real acceptance of their responsibility to keep their patrons safe. Even in the book’s most somber moments (after some ticketholder drowns or is electrocuted) the most we get is a bit of reflection that is only on the surface. “Respect this,” the author’s father says to him after one such tragedy. But then they pivot to the next poorly designed, hastily erected deathtrap without a second thought. There is little sense that any of his family accept any responsibility for the deaths, and certainly not the more routine injuries. In their weirdly libertarian weltanschauung it seems all the responsibility rests on the victim. After all, they knew the rides were dangerous, didn’t they? Whose fault was it really if they went ahead and got themselves hurt? Didn’t the park provide lots of jobs for the locals? If the town of Vernon and state of New Jersey really disapproved, wouldn’t they have done everything they could to shut the park down (sooner)? Oh, and don’t worry about the fact that none of the rides were adequately designed or tested to ANY accepted engineering and safety standards, or that the park was “insured” by a shell company created by the owner. It all makes for a great story now. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Move along!
All told, it’s amazing that more people weren’t killed at Action Park. It was a relic of another time that could only exist in the brief window when it did. Thankfully we can revisit it now, from a truly safe distance, with this book. Like I said, it’s a fun and entertaining read. But that’s only because everything looks better when viewed through the lens of nostalgia. There are at least six families who would see things quite differently.