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 a trio of “roller slides” that were called Aqua Skoot. A lot of people seemed shocked about these slides due to their semi-dangerous nature, but several waterparks had them back in the day. They’re commonly referred to as the “roller slides” because the slide was clad in steel rolling pins.
First, you had to drag this heavy plastic sled up the winding staircase to the top of the platform. I feel like other parks may have had a return system for these things. At the top, the ride op would position the sled on a pivoting platform and the you would climb aboard and get ready to drop. The ride op would push a lever that would tilt the platform, sending the sled rocketing down a steep drop. The slide abruptly ended in a long, shallow pool where the sled would skip over the surface of the water before coming to a stop.
If you continue past the roller slides, the blacktop path will eventually end and turn into a large area of semi-smooth 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 acts more like the splash pool for a couple slides. The water here? Freezing. The far end of the grotto features the exit for Rogue River, a short body slide built into the rock face. Riders would periodically shoot out of the tunnel and into innocent bystanders.
The deep 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. Air slide, get it? The Cliff Dives were 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 exit to this pool was through a weird rock cave that connected the two sections of the grotto. You could also swim to the right and around, but you’d be in for a long swim in freaky-deep water in that case.
Unlike most of the deep pools, the bottom of the grotto 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: The Gauley and Thunder Run. The rivers featured single and double tubes respectively. Thunder Run was pretty straightforward with several turns, tunnels, bumps and drops. Double tubes aren’t as versatile as single tubes so the course needed to be a bit more structured. It’s actually a really well made slide and almost looks like some 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 way too intense for a tube slide. 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 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 will 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 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. I think that may have hurt more than my Cannonball Falls mishap, actually.
Colorado River Ride
The main event of Roaring Springs was the Colorado River Ride, a long river ride into the backwoods of Vernon Valley. 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 line to get your humongous, forest green, circular rubber raft. Next, you had to drag that heavy, unwieldy piece of crap up to the top of the hill. The path you rolled or dragged it up was uneven and many people would loose grip of their rafts, leaving it to tumble off the side and into the forest. It was always fun fishing that thing out of the thorns and brush. Some people didn’t, as evidenced by the abandoned rafts in the woods.
Once you got your raft to the top, you had to then wait in another line to actually put it into the start pool. 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 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. Upon exiting the cave, the raft slammed into a curved wall that would damn near flip 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. I remember seeing a tube full of people stuck near the exit of the second path once. As they saw our raft float by they began to yell “Help! We’re stuck!” Seriously, if anyone has been down that path, leave a comment.
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. The river’s last hurrah is a small drop that the raft rockets over, momentarily catching 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.
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 a large caged arena where people could pay money to ride in a small, tennis ball cannon equipped tank 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. Truthfully, I never saw these myself, but it’s been written that the swamp was infested with water snakes and when a person would capsize, the lifeguard would have to fight off the snakes during the rescue. (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. He seemed to be going pretty fast, wonder if he was 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.
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 a 4 person tube slide where you slide down an enclosed drop and into a massive funnel-like structure that lies on its side. The tube slides up and down the walls under its 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! Edit: they changed the name back to Mountain Creek.
Action Park/Mountain Creek is a good waterpark today. Of course, it isn’t a park that you can come back from and proudly proclaim “you should have seen THIS place” anymore. Going to there today will not merit you an award for tempting death and living. Nope, today Mountain Creek is simply one of the more scenic waterparks in the country with many unique slides and attractions…and a whole lotta history.
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