Roaring Springs was set in a heavily wooded area. While the other sections were clear of trees for the most part, this section had seemingly every tree intact. The first thing you would see after walking down a winding path were the “roller slides.” I don’t remember their real name but they were these 3 slides that had steel rollers as a sliding surface. First you had to tote this heavy plastic sled to the top of the platform which sucked since they weighed like 20 to 30 pounds. At the top, the ride op would position the sled on a pivoting platform; the rider would then climb onto the sled and get ready to drop. The ride op would push a lever that would tilt the platform and the sled would rocket down a very steep drop which must have been pitched at like 70 degrees. The slide then leveled out before abruptly ending in a shallow pool where the sled would skip over the surface of the water for quite a length before stopping. It was a very dangerous slide if I say so myself, but kind of fun at the same time!
If you continue past the “roller slides,” the blacktop path will eventually end and turn into a large area of semi-smooth tan rock. Aqua Socks are a requirement for this section of park; if you don’t have them your feet will be bruised and banged up from all the steps and dips scattered throughout the area. The rocky landscape marks the main area of Roaring Springs, a large rock face grotto.
The grotto has two sides separated by a long, narrow rock island with trees and bushes covering its top. To the right is a semi-shallow pool area, to the left is a blocked off section that becomes vastly deeper and contains a few horrifying attractions. The water in this grotto and everywhere in this area is very, very cold; almost too cold to swim in. On the far end of the grotto is the exit of the Rogue River body slide. Riders will periodically shoot out of the tunnel into innocent bystanders which was sort of funny.
The left side of the grotto is where the “Air Slide” and “Cliff Dives” reside. The Air Slide was a very simple waterslide; it started out maybe 25 feet above the grotto on a rock faced cliff. You simply slide down a wide 15 or so foot slide and then fall 10 feet into the water. The Cliff Dives are even more simplistic, you walk out onto a ledge and jump! There were two cliff dives, one was about 15 feet and the other was around 20 feet. The water below these attractions is cold and about 15-20 feet deep. Unlike most of the deep pools, the bottom was a lighter color so you could actually see the bottom. According to Tom Fergus’ write in to Weird NJ, this was in response to an incident when someone jumped off the Cliff Dive and could not swim. “After that, they painted the pool white so they could see bodies lying on the bottom.”
If you go to the right of the grotto, you’ll see the line for two of the three river rides at Action Park ; Thunder Run and The Gauley. The Gauley is for single tubes and Thunder Run is for double tubes. Both are fairly long river rides that wind riders down the side of the mountain. Thunder Run is pretty straightforward with many turns, tunnels, bumps and drops. Double tubes aren’t as versatile as single tubes so the course needs to be a bit more structured. It’s really well made, and almost looks like a natural downhill river feature.
The Gauley, on the other hand, is a free for all single tube bedlam…and my second favorite ride in the park! The very beginning of the ride is very intense for a tube slide, and of course the queue line surrounds this section so everyone gets a clear view of riders being thrown off their tubes. Basically the beginning of the river is a long, steeply pitched S shaped curve. Once out of the start pool, you race down a hill into the first curve where your tube slams into a curved wall. You slide down the wall right into the second curve which turns maybe 120 degrees before dumping riders into a small pool. You’d be hard pressed not to see at least one rider loose their tube in this first section.
The pool is like a break, you float around it until you slide down a small hill into another pool. Sometimes your tube will flip over when you slam into the next pool but the tube easily retrievable here. After the second pool is a large turn where your tube speeds up greatly. The turn gets progressively tighter until you enter a tunnel that makes a steep curve and then spits you out under a waterfall and into the lower portion of the main rock grotto. I lost my tube in the turn before the tunnel once, and had to slide down the tunnel on my back. It sucked because the tunnel is grooved and not meant to be used as a body slide by any means.
Colorado River Ride
The real draw of Roaring Springs was the Colorado River Ride, a long river ride into the backwoods of Vernon. The river is tucked into the back and is a bit tough to find. Back in the Action Park days, you would first wait in a line to get your humongous, forest green colored, circular rubber raft and then you were forced to drag it all the way to the top of the hill. The thing weighed like 50 damn pounds and was unwieldy as hell. The path you rolled or dragged it up was uneven and many people would loose grip of their rafts; the rouge raft would then tumble down the hill into a wooded area, leaving those people to fish it out of the thorns and brush.
Once you got your raft to the top, you had to then wait in a line to actually put it into the start pool. The person in the water would hold the raft while riders piled into the raft at which point the raft would flood with ice cold water. Out of the start pool, the raft would travel down a small hill, under a bridge, and then around a corner at which point you would be out of the view of the queue line. Next there are a few turns, small drops, and sudden bumps which would toss more ice cold water into the raft.
Eventually the riders would come to a fork; to the left was a rocky cave with two heavy duty sprayers manning the entrance and straight ahead was a corner followed by an unknown portion of river. 99% of the time, the raft would slide into the tunnel despite the fact that there was nothing keeping you from going straight. What was around the corner you ask? I have no idea, I have never been down that path…it remains a mystery to many. Upon entering the cave riders are sprayed directly in the face by the sprayers.
Action Park did a good job on the cave as it really does look like a natural cave feature. The inside is dark and humid with quite a few turns and bumps that throw the raft around. The raft picked up a huge amount of speed here as well and upon exiting the cave, the raft slammed into a curved wall that damn near flipped it. The raft would then slide into a small pool that seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere; this is also where the second path reconnected. While my raft was floating around the rock pool once, I saw a tube full of people stuck near the exit of the second path. As they saw our raft they began to yell “help! We’re stuck!” I guess they paid the price for going down the other path!
It sometimes took a bit of time for the raft to find its way out of this pool, but eventually it would float out and down a hill into the final stretch of the river. One could see the end pool by now, but in front of it was a long stretch filled with bumps, moguls, and some small obstructions. The raft picks up speed very quickly here and tends to slam into bumps hard enough to throw the raft off course or into the wall of the trough. As the rivers last hurrah, the raft rocketed over a small drop were the raft momentarily caught air before slamming back down to surface. Finally, the raft plows into the large splash pool which seems to sit on the edge of the mountain. The pool is a little deeper than expected and many a rider would leap out of the raft and slip completely underwater.
The Colorado River Ride is one of the few attractions that still has the Action Park life in it. At one point Action Park’s new owners switched the rafts out with dingies…which sucked. The dingies didn’t send you up walls or fly over bumps nearly as well as the old rafts. They didn’t last long however and were replaced by smaller and lighter versions of the multi-person circular rafts. Today you’ll still get a completely out of control ride on the Colorado River Ride. The sprayers guarding the entrance to the cave are gone, luckily, and a couple of other things are cleaned up; but other than that it’s the same old rough and tumble ride that it always was.
Unfortunately, as of late 2012, they now make riders wear helmets on Colorado River Ride. Helmets! And with that, our lawsuit happy nation kills off yet more fun.
Here’s a recent POV video of Colorado River Ride. You really can’t see crap for most of it, but the screams and yelps from hitting bumps and obstacles pretty much tell the story.
On the opposite side of the park, across the highway, is Motorworld. To get there you needed to ride these weird single seat monorail cars which brought you over a bridge and to the Motorworld section. I never did anything in Motorworld but I do know some stories. First off, this section was filled with go-karts, tank tag, and speed boats. The Go-karts are hardly the kind that you see at any normal theme park though, these are practically real cars. They had these fast mini NASCAR looking cars that could go at like 20 to 30 mph, and then they had miniature Indy cars which went a bit faster. According the Issue 24 of Weird NJ, ride ops knew how to override the throttle regulators with tennis balls, and would race around at 50 or 60 mph!
The Tank Tag was this large caged arena where people could pay some money to ride in a small, tennis ball cannon equipped tank around the caged arena while people could pay a couple of bucks to shoot tennis balls at the tank via cannons set up around the arena. When a tank would stall, the ride op would need to scramble out to fix the tank while patrons happily shot him with the tennis balls. Lastly, Motorworld had speedboats which raced around a swampy area. The swamp was infested with water snakes apparently and when a person would capsize, the lifeguard would have to fight off the snakes while rescuing the person. (Most of this was written about in Issue 24 of Weird NJ.)
I’ll always remember the Action Park commercial which featured some guy speeding along in one of those miniature Indy cars. I seem to remember him going extremely fast and I now realize that he was probably using the ol’ tennis ball trick.
Action Park Today
In 1996, Action Park closed its doors. The company that owned the park and ski area had been in trouble with the law for various money related indecencies which resulted in the closing; plus the fact that Action Park was a deathtrap probably didn’t help either. Though, Intrawest bought the resort and turned the ski resort and waterpark into Mountain Creek.
Mountain Creek during the winter is a ski resort, and in summer is…surprise, surprise…a waterpark! Not much changed to Action Park really, though it is MUCH safer and more family oriented. Many of the more sinister attractions were taken down such as the Alpine Slide, roller slides, the Cannonball Loop, the bungee rides and all of Motorworld as well as some lesser known slides.
However, even after the acquisition by Intrawest, many of the best slides and attractions still exist with improvements. You now do not have to lug a huge tube uphill to ride the Colorado River Ride as now a modified ski lift does the work for you. The two slides that flanked Geronimo Falls (now called H2 Uh-Oh) are gone, replaced by two enclosed slides (one is called Vortex and the other is called Vertigo…I think.) It also looks like the original Geronimo slide has been modified as well, along with the second one being taken off altogether.
I’ll give Mountain Creek credit for adding the “High Anxiety” slide though, which seems like something Action Park would have loved to see in its heyday. High Anxiety is basically a 4 person per tube slide (they also have odd looking two person tubes) in which you slide down an enclosed drop which dumps you into a massive funnel-like structure that lies on its side. The passenger tube is then shot up the walls of the funnel using it’s own momentum until it slides out the other end. It definitely looks more like a torture device rather than a waterslide. But it’s fun!
In 2012 Mountain Creek brought a little Action Park back to the place by opening Alpine Mountain Coaster, an Alpine Slide-like ride. Riders sit in similar carts with a brake to control speed however the cart is attached to a steel track; no longer will riders have the thrill of rocketing off the track at incredible speeds…eh, I guess that’s a good thing.
For the 2014 season, Mountain Creek Waterpark went back to the name Action Park. Let the confusion and stories of the old Action Park being applied to the new incarnation begin! On top of that, they’re planning to unveil the world’s tallest looping waterslide in the summer of 2014. Really, it’ll be “looping” in name only as the modern variants of Cannonball Loop feature inclined loops that lay at a 45 degree angle or so.
Action Park is a good waterpark today, a bit mismanaged according to some, but it’s still a bunch fun. Of course, Action Park isn’t a park that you can come back from and proudly proclaim “you should have seen THIS place” anymore. Going to Mountain Creek today will not merit you an award for tempting death and living. Nope, today Action Park is simply one of the more scenic waterparks in the country with many unique slides and attractions.
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