The Cannonball Loop was as talked about by New Jersey residents as the theme park it could be found in. Now, rare footage of the slide has park-goers recollecting past visits.
Visitors to the theme park referred to the place by a litany of nicknames: Friction Park, Class Action Park, and Accident Park to name a few. Chances are if you grew up in northern New Jersey, you have heard of or paid a visit to Action Park. The Vernon, N.J., attraction was one of America's first water parks. Welcoming patrons from Memorial Day to Labor Day, it opened its doors in 1978 and first closed in 1996.
The theme park was the brainchild of Eugene Muhville. He sold the attraction in 1998 but repurchased it with a group of investors in 2010. They reopened it under the name Mountain Creek. Muhville passed away in 2012; his son, Andrew, now runs the park. The current iteration doesn't have the safety problems of its predecessor.
Many people who grew up during the original Action Park era fondly recall the fun times and recklessness. The dilemma, however, becomes evident when you consider the park's legal history. A reported six deaths and countless other injuries occurred on Action Park rides during its nearly two-decade run. A park employee was killed when his car on the Alpine Slide jumped the concrete track, and his head struck a rock. Multiple people drowned in the park's wave pool, which was also one of the first attractions of its kind in the U.S. In the course of a week, a teenage boy drowned, and a 27-year-old man died after he was electrocuted when stepping off a ride.
These incidents have become a part of Action Park's story alongside countless other tales of 14- and 15-year-olds operating rides, kids fighting with their parents, and teenagers having a place to socialize during the hot summer months. Weird NJ's Chris Gethard summed it up by writing, "Action Park was a true rite of passage for any New Jerseyan of my generation."
Of all the rides, perhaps the most talked about was the Cannonball Loop, which was a water slide that featured a full loop at the end. Those who saw it in person wondered if it was ever open and whether anyone actually tried it. The answer is yes, and now there is video proof.
According to Deadspin, the park's former director of operations, Adam Ringler, found an old VHS tape of promos for the attraction and sent the tape to Seth Porges, who produced a short documentary on Action Park last year. In one of the clips, people are actually riding, or perhaps more accurately escaping, Cannonball Loop.
"You hit the bottom, and then your stomach falls out, and then you get all disoriented," said Andrew Muhville, in Porges's documentary. "You come out, and you don't know where you are."
The slide looks physically impossible to ride without getting hurt — and it essentially was. Kids would leave the ride with chipped teeth, bloody noses, and other injuries. It was shut down almost as soon it was open.
Earlier this month, it was announced that the New Jersey destination would return to its previous name of Action Park. There is even a new ride set to open this season, which claims to be the world's tallest double looping water slide.