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Mountain Creek Waterpark is a water park located in Vernon, New Jersey, US, on the grounds of the Mountain Creek ski resort. The park consists primarily of water-based attractions and opened in 1998.[2]

Mountain Creek Waterpark
Mountain Creek Waterpark logo.png
LocationVernon, New Jersey, U.S.
Coordinates41°11′26″N 74°30′27″W / 41.19056°N 74.50750°W / 41.19056; -74.50750
OwnerMountain Creek
Opened1978 (as Action Park)
1998 (as Mountain Creek Waterpark)
Closed1996 (as Action Park)
Previous namesAction Park (1978-1996,2014-2016)
Operating seasonJune to September[1]

The park is located on the original site of Action Park, one of the first modern American water parks, which was open from 1978 until 1996.[3] It became infamous for its consequently poor safety record, and at least six people are known to have died as a result of mishaps on rides at the original park. Despite this, the park was very popular and attracted thrill-seekers from across the New York metropolitan area.

On February 9, 1998, Intrawest announced the purchase of the majority of the Vernon Valley/Great Gorge ski area, including the Action Park property.[4] After a massive overhaul, which included revamping rides and removing attractions deemed either outright unsafe or inappropriate relative to Intrawest's vision,[5] the waterpark was reopened as Mountain Creek Waterpark. In 2010, the Mountain Creek ski area and waterpark was sold[6] to a group led by Eugene Mulvihill, the former owner of Vernon Valley/Great Gorge and the owner of the adjacent Crystal Springs Resort. It was under the new ownership that the name of the water park was changed back to Action Park in 2014.[7] Two years later, the name was reverted to Mountain Creek Waterpark.


Action Park (1978–1996)Edit

The idea for the park began in 1976 when Eugene Mulvihill and his company Great American Recreation (GAR), the owners of the recently combined Vernon Valley/Great Gorge ski area, wanted to find a way to generate revenue during the summer, so they opened a 2,700-foot-long (820 m) alpine slide down one of the steep ski trails.[8] For the summer of 1978, Mulvihill added two water slides and a go-kart track, and named the collection of rides the "Vernon Valley Summer Park".[9] Additional attractions would be built by 1980,[10] and the park would evolve to a major destination with 75 rides (35 motorized, self-controlled rides and 40 water slides).[10]

The park entertained over one million visitors per year during the 1980s, with as many as 12,000 coming on some of the busiest weekends.[10] However, Action Park became infamous for poorly designed, unsafe rides; under-aged, undertrained, and often under-the-influence staff;[11] intoxicated, unprepared visitors; and a consequently poor safety record. At least six people are known to have died as a result of mishaps on rides at the original park, and as such it was given nicknames such as "Traction Park",[11] "Accident Park", and "Class Action Park".[12] In September 1989, GAR unsuccessfully negotiated a deal with International Broadcasting Corporation that would result in the sale of Vernon Valley/Great Gorge, and Action Park, for $50 million.[13][14][15]

A few rides were closed and dismantled due to costly settlements and rising insurance premiums in the 1990s, and the park's attendance began to suffer as a recession early in that decade reduced the number of visitors. In early 1995, GAR operated Vernon Valley/Great Gorge and Action Park with no liability insurance,[16] instead relying on self-insurance.[17][18] However, they ultimately purchased liability insurance.[19] As 1995 progressed, GAR's financial woes continued to accumulate, and foreclosure suits started being filed against the corporation.[20] Law firms also sued for compensation for services rendered between 1991 and 1993.[21] GAR negotiated a deal to temporary fend off an impending foreclosure,[22] but in February 1996, the creditors who had taken on GAR's debt petitioned to force GAR into bankruptcy over the $14 million owed by the struggling company.[23] GAR filed for Chapter 11 protection that following March, but remained optimistic that they could regain their financial footing "within a year."[24] Action Park closed at the end of the season as usual on Labor Day, September 2, 1996.[25] Despite expecting to reopen the next year, on June 25, 1997, GAR announced the cessation of all its operations, including Action Park.[26]

Intrawest era (1998–2010)Edit

Following the demise of GAR in 1997, Praedium Recovery Fund purchased the Vernon Valley-Great Gorge resort, and Action Park, for $10 million.[27] The investment group put the company Angel Projects in charge of managing the resort, and aimed to pump in some $20 million to upgrade the ski resort's equipment, trails, and to remodel the water park.[28]

Canadian park operator Intrawest purchased the park, and neighboring Vernon Valley ski area in February 1998. The Waterworld section of Action Park was revamped,[29] and then reopened for the 1998 season as Mountain Creek. The owners, aware of the image problems created during the Action Park era, sought to differentiate themselves from their predecessors.[30] By this time, Mountain Creek was no longer the state's largest waterpark, nor was it the draw that it was during its original heyday, as other waterparks built around the region have since divided the market. Since Intrawest was a ski resort corporation, the water park would be leased out to Palace Entertainment after the first couple of years.

As a result of problems at the original Action Park, New Jersey toughened its amusement regulations. During the Mountain Creek era, many of the rides built during the heyday of Action Park boasted large bilingual signs advising patrons of just what the ride entails, how deep the water is in metric and US customary units, the age it is most appropriate for, and the state regulatory ID numbers. Safety rules are strictly enforced at the new park, although alcohol is still available.

Sale, Action Park revival, and Mountain Creek return (2010–present)Edit

In 2010, Intrawest, which ended up in bankruptcy proceedings itself as a result of a leveraged buyout, sold both the Mountain Creek ski resort and the water park to the owners of Crystal Springs Resort. The water park would remain under lease to Palace Entertainment until 2011, when the owners of the resort bought out the operating lease to the water park.[31] This returned control of the former Action Park property, as well as the entire former Vernon Valley/Great Gorge ski area, to the Mulvihill family as they had retained ownership of the ski area that was renamed Crystal Springs following GAR's bankruptcy.

In April 2014, the Mulvihill family changed the name of Mountain Creek back to Action Park. However, on May 29, 2016, it was announced that the Action Park name was again retired and that the park would revert to the Mountain Creek Waterpark name.[citation needed]

Future developmentEdit

In the summer of 2014, the Zero-G opened. Located on the tower for H2 OhNo, the Zero-G is a double-looping slide featuring 2 inclined loops.

In 2015, plans for new park attractions were announced. These included a new lounge area and pools, relocation of batting cages to near the Action Putts Miniature Golf Course, and the construction of a temporary go-kart track by the same miniature golf course.[32] A ride called the Sky Caliber, a vertically looping water slide, was also under development. Unlike the original Cannonball Loop, riders were to ride in bullet-shaped aluminum cages, and the slide would feature a taller and steeper approach, as well as a teardrop shaped loop.[33][34] The world's longest water slide, a 2,130-foot (650 m) inflatable slide made in Waimauku, New Zealand back in 2013, was to be moved to Mountain Creek and installed there.[35]


  1. ^ "Operating Hours & Schedule | Action Park, Vernon, NJ". Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  2. ^ "Action Park Waterpark, Vernon NJ". Mountain Creek. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  3. ^ Arthur Levine. "The Action is back at Mountain Creek". Retrieved August 29, 2013.
  4. ^ - Press release announcing Intrawest's purchase of Vernon Valley - Great Gorge's ski resort, Action Park, and GAR owned real estate
  5. ^ - Internet archive copy of a press release on Mountain Creek's website announcing the waterpark's planned opening on June 15, 1998
  6. ^ Perone, Joseph (May 27, 2010). "Mountain Creek resort in N.J. sold to developer Gene Mulvihill". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ: Advance Publications. Retrieved September 12, 2010.
  7. ^ "The dangerous return of the world's most insane theme park". New York Post. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  8. ^ "So What If There's No Snow, Go Sliding Down Hill Anyway". Ocala Star-Banner. November 5, 1976.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c Austin, Joanne (October 2005). "Revisiting Traction ... Er, Action, Park". Weird NJ (25). p. 20–24. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Austin, Joanne; "Revisiting Traction ... Er, Action, Park," Weird NJ, October 2005, pages 20–24
  12. ^ Jersey Ed; May 2006; "We Called it Accident Park" in "The Reaction to Traction at Action Park"; Weird NJ, 28.
  13. ^ "OWNER AGREES TO SELL ACTION PARK, SKI AREA". The Record. New Jersey. September 7, 1989.
  14. ^ "FIRM BREAKS OFF DEAL FOR VERNON VALLEY". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ. September 27, 1989.
  17. ^ "LARGEST SKI RESORT IN N.J. HAS NO LIABILITY INSURANCE". Press of Atlantic City. February 15, 1995.
  18. ^ "VERNON VALLEY SKI RESORT RELIES ON OWN INSURANCE". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ. February 15, 1995.
  19. ^ "ACTION PARK, SKI AREA BUY COVERAGE". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ. May 19, 1995.
  20. ^ "SUSSEX RESORTS SUED IN STEP TO FORECLOSURE". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ. May 20, 1995.
  21. ^ "TROUBLES MOUNT FOR VERNON RESORTS AS LAWYERS SUE FOR $175,000 IN FEES". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ. May 24, 1995.
  22. ^ "VERNON RESORT GETS BAILED OUT, MULVIHILL BOWS OUT". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ. November 14, 1995.
  23. ^ "Debt avalanche threatens to bury ski resort Court petition seeks involuntary bankruptcy of Great American Recreation in Sussex". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ. February 22, 1996.
  24. ^ "Action Park, Vernon Valley seek court protection from creditors". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ. April 3, 1996.
  25. ^ "Great Gorge issues host of pink slips". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ. April 19, 1997.
  26. ^ "For Action Park, the summer's over". The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ. June 28, 1997.
  27. ^ "Court accepts bid for ski area" - The Star-Ledger, The (Newark, NJ) - September 12, 1997
  28. ^ "New owner to reopen Vernon Valley slopes" - The Star-Ledger, The (Newark, NJ) - October 18, 1997
  29. ^ "Days of beer and bungees end as Action Park goes `family' - The Star-Ledger, The (Newark, NJ) - April 2, 1998
  30. ^ "New name breeds hope for a new image Operators of Mountain Creek look to shed sour reputation that came with Action Park" - The Star-Ledger, The (Newark, NJ) - June 19, 1998
  31. ^ - "Action PArk: The World's Raddest Water Park
  32. ^ - Vernon, NJ, Land use Board Meeting, April 23, 2014.
  33. ^ - "Vertical looping water slide, long thought impossible, in test phase"
  34. ^ "Image of a sign promoting the 2016 opening of the new Cannonball Loop".
  35. ^ ACTION PARK BRINGS WORLD'S LONGEST WATERSLIDE TO U.S. Archived 2015-06-20 at the Wayback Machine

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