• Action Park

  • Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America's Most Dangerous Amusement Park
  • By: Andy Mulvihill, Jake Rossen
  • Narrated by: Michael Satow
  • Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (380 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

"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.

©2020 Andy Mulvihill and Jake Rossen (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“I went to Action Park exactly once in the 1990s. I saw people with open wounds. I was asked if I was an expert swimmer by a bored 16 year old before entering a pitch dark water pipe that ejected me feet over ice cold water. I bruised my ribs on the turn of one water slide and spent the next day in exquisite pain. I never wanted to go back again. Until I read this book. Now I miss it. Why do we as a species crave danger and punishment? You won’t find the answer here, but you will find story after unbelievable story of a place that should have never existed.” (John Hodgman, author of Vacationland and Medallion Status)

"Reading Andy Mulvihill’s chronicle of fast times at his father Gene’s amusement park resembles an actual visit: fun and hilarity one second, shock and horror the next...Alternately wistful and clear-eyed about the past, Andy’s story will be cherished by those who remember their own Coppertone-scented teen summers.” (Booklist

"Action Park, like Jurassic Park, brims with mortal danger, except Action Park was somehow real. If you ever worked a summer job with guys named Smoke, Puff and Ring-Ding, you'll instantly recognize the time and place. Every page is so redolent of beer, fear, lust and chlorine that it’s practically scratch-and-sniff." (Steve Rushin, author of Sting-Ray Afternoons and Nights in White Castle)  

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What listeners say about Action Park

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Fascinating, but lacking in substance

Mulvihill is a good storyteller, but it’s hard to get past the fact that over and over again in the book, he acts as though his father wasn’t *really* doing anything wrong. The book wants to put Gene Mulvihill on a pedestal, but he feels more like a malevolent force of nature than the hero his kid thinks he is.

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Such a great story and perspective!!

I read a promotional excerpt of the book and was immediately hooked and decided to get the audiobook. The narrator is great, and the story is equal parts funny and fascinating. It’s definitely a hyperbolic and biased view of the park written by a kid who literally grew up there, but that unique perspective is part of what makes it so good. I enjoyed every minute of the minute and highly recommend it.

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Sorry I missed it

Jumped off houses, bridges and seawalls as a kid. I would have absolutely maimed myself at AP. Great book, well-performed.

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Worth your time.

I haven't even finished this book and yet I'm giving it five stars. I'm giving it five stars before finishing it because we all know how it ends, and that's irrelevant; the park closes. I looked up "Action Park" because of the obvious sensationalism of the subject matter. I discovered a book about a sensible son coming to grips with being raised by a reckless, neurotic father which ultimately amounts to people watching gold. As entertaining as non fiction gets.

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Phenomenal Listening 🎶

Andy is a amazing writer and harnesses the English language in a way I deeply enjoyed. The words your hear left me animated with visceral responses to what happened in hdisappointed! The reader was excellent also and make the writers words come to life! I couldn't put the book down, you won't be dissapointed!

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The real story of action park

I am a theme park enthusiast and although I never got the opportunity to go to action park I have look into the history of it and this is a very detailed look behind the scenes of what action park was.

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The grand disasterpiece!

Probably one of the funniest books I’ve read in recent memory. Excellent and I would recommend to anyone looking for a good laugh or to relive their wasted (literally and figuratively) youth

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Informative and fun

I knew only little of Action Park before this book. All the scrapes, literal and figurative, are described in mostly humourous detail here. It paints a kind picture of the staff and owner who cared about providing the most action filled experience for guests while sometimes disregarding safety.

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Entertaining to a point

The premise is interesting but it is really a memoir for an unusual childhood and a eulogy for his father. But, it kind of comes across as a Texas Chainsaw Massacre family running an amusement park - a great ride if you are on the inside and in on the game, not so great if you're not in on it. Plus, the dad who designed,, built, and operated the park comes across as a self-obsessed ass, no matter how much his kid tries to make him heroic and all about helping others.

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A gem of a man with a vision

Unique story of a father with a dream of a thrilling park for adrenaline seeking teenagers. On the edge of danger but that’s what made it fun. No way in these times could a person build and open this to the public now. Great perspective from the son. Fun listen.

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  • N1mbleFinger5
  • 08-27-20

Excellent insight into the most insane theme park

Well narrated and entertaining. Tells the story of the most insane theme park where guests set their own limits. It has some really good insights into the history of Action Park showing how Gene Mulvihill revolutionised the theme park industry and also his legacy regarding rides today. It also puts straight the truth and some myths regarding the urban legends regarding the park.

Highly recommended and worth listening more than once

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  • Geneva
  • 07-13-20

More than just a good blurb

I was hesitant to pick this up, worried that the exciting and fascinating concept of Class Action Park would be a quick story told in slow and irritating style. I could not have been more wrong. It was beautifully put together and full of twists and stories that never seemed to stop, it painted a world of summers that made me want to jump back to the 80's and head to Mount Vernon.