#3. SCAD Tower
A ride near Dallas, TX, is so terrifying that it's literally being used to learn more about the nature of fear. It wasn't made by scientists, mind you -- they just found it and went, "Holy shit, let's do some experiments here before they shut it down."
The attraction is located at the Zero Gravity Thrill Park, which we're pretty sure might be the sketchiest-looking amusement park ever. At first glance it appears to be little more than a series of puzzling metal structures, but as you get closer, you learn that each of those structures has a clear purpose: scaring the shit out of you.
R0409, Trip Advisor
Instead of Mickey and Goofy, they have Deliverance-style hillbillies roaming the place.
The park's main attraction is the Suspended Catch Air Device (SCAD), an unnecessarily complicated name for what's basically four pillars and a net.
"Don't worry, rope burn will really complement your whiplash!"
The SCAD works just like the Superman Drop or the Tower of Terror in that it takes you up high and then lets you drop, with the small difference that in this case, you're not actually attached to anything during the drop. Basically, the whole "mechanism" consists of a person who takes you to the top and then lets you fall off.
This ride is so intensely disturbing that it has actually been used by medical professor David Eagleman to test how the brain's perception of time changes during near-death experiences. Eagleman says he previously tried different rides for his experiments but none of them worked quite as well as the SCAD, because apparently as far as your brain is concerned there's not a whole lot of difference between "110 feet of freefall" and "110 feet of freefall with a net underneath."
At this point, you're too busy thinking "AHHHHHHHH" to remember what a net is.
To their credit, though, it looks like the Zero Gravity SCAD is the one with the cleanest track record in the whole country, due to the fact that it hasn't actually broken anyone's bones (unlike the one in Orlando or the one in Wisconsin).
#2. The Terrible Trio
The 1920s was a great time for roller coasters, but not so much for the people riding them. Apparently "not killing people" wasn't as much of a priority back then as "mentally scarring them for life." A prime example of this comes in the "Terrible Trio" of coasters designed by amusement tycoon Harry G. Traver.
He was in the business of amusing himself by watching people shriek.
The trio consisted of the Cyclone in Ontario, Canada, Lightning in Revere Beach, Mass. and another Cyclone in Fort Lee, NJ. Traver specifically designed these coasters to be as unsafe as possible while not breaking any existing regulations, resulting in monstrously twisted knots of metal and wood that stood like giant monuments to an unloving god. Two of the three caused at least one death within their first two days of operation.
What could possibly be unsafe about this?
One of those two deaths was on the Cyclone, which literally tore itself apart on a regular basis from how vicious it was, meaning that it couldn't operate on a normal schedule -- it's opening hours were "whenever we've patched it together enough to work." Once it did manage to hold together, the G-forces it generated were so vast that passengers frequently passed out while riding it. A nurse was kept on the Cyclone's station at all times: in all likelihood, this was as much a publicity stunt as it was an insurance necessity.
Today, this thing would need its own ER.
But if the Cyclone resembled a hospital, the Revere Beach Lightning was a shady back-alley clinic. Its violent side-to-side motions were so intense that the phrase "take her on the Lightning" actually became slang for "abortion" around the Boston area.
The ride was so violent it aborted your unborn children even if you had a penis.
Finally, the New Jersey Cyclone didn't live up to the high standards of its baby-killing, self-mutilating brothers -- but only because it was demolished by a wise park proprietor before it could do any harm (it was then replaced by an unrelated coaster of the same name, probably in an attempt to exorcise the terrain).
"The sound of breaking bones is the only thing that gets me hard." - Harry Traver [Citation Needed].
However, even roller coasters that ripped themselves apart at the seams, performed spontaneous abortions and necessitated their own hospitals wouldn't be quite deadly enough to be at ...
#1. Action Park
Action Park is one of the most infamous ideas ever to come out of New Jersey, and that's counting those currently being broadcast on MTV and VH1. It's hard to believe that it really existed, and yet the evidence is undeniable. More specifically, we're talking about the death toll of six people and the hundreds of serious injuries it caused between 1978 and 1996.
The park seemed to have put so little effort into making the attractions safe that even the operators (mostly leering teenagers) were afraid to go near them. Take, for example, the infamous Cannonball Loop, a massive water slide which sent riders out of an insanely long drop straight into a loop nearly 15 feet in diameter.
If you're having troubles grasping the scale of this thing: that girl on the front could stand inside the tube.
The amount of force built up by such a loop was easily enough to break bones, as evidenced by the bones it broke, and also the time when a crash test dummy was put through the slide and came out in three pieces. As a reminder, crash test dummies are specifically made to be difficult to break. The Cannonball Loop was actually in operation for very short periods before the constant injuries forced the owners to close it down, but it remained near the entrance as a reminder of the insanity of Action Park.
As if the news articles weren't enough.
The park had no shortage of dangerous attractions, though: like the Alpine Slide, a zigzagging cement ditch snaking down the side of a mountain. Riders could control the speed of their flimsily constructed sleds without any sort of supervision, which was made even more dangerous by the fact that the ditch lacked any sort of railings or paddings of any kind. Also, there was no such thing as a seat belt. Rider speed and the general disinterest of the operators made it the ideal roaming ground for packs of bullies.
It was like Mad Max in there.
Cutting out seat belts and technicians from the budget probably made this one of the cheapest rides ever, but what they saved in precautions they lost in lawsuits: the Alpine Slide alone reported more than 40 injuries and one death during just two years of rides. The tracks were eventually torn down by later owners, at which point they probably found dozens more bodies buried underneath.
This kid never made it out of the park.
And finally there's the Tidal Wave Pool with its three-feet-tall artificial waves, which required 12 active lifeguards on duty at all times ... and still accounted for half the deaths in the park. Had Action Park continued to exist, we're pretty sure the entire population of New Jersey would have been depleted by now. We'll let you decide if that's a good thing or not.
For more attractions that confuse and frighten us, check out The 9 Most Baffling Theme Parks From Around the World and The 7 Most Horrifying Museums on Earth.