Frontier City

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Frontier City
LogoFC.png
Official Logo of Frontier City.
Location Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Coordinates 35°35′05″N 97°26′28″W / 35.584845°N 97.440990°W / 35.584845; -97.440990
Theme Western "town" Theme Park
Owner CNL Lifestyle Properties
Operated by Premier Parks, LLC
Opened 1958 (1958)
Operating season April – November
Area 55 acres (220,000 m2)
109 acres (0.44 km2) total
Rides
Total 28
Roller coasters 5
Water rides 3
Website www.frontiercity.com

Frontier City is a western-themed amusement park in Oklahoma City. It is owned by CNL Lifestyle Properties and operated by Premier Parks, LLC.

Currently Frontier City is the only theme park in Oklahoma after the 2006 closing of Bell's Amusement Park. The park is the subject of the song "Frontier City" by the Nashville band Kings of Leon, as drummer Nathan Followill once worked there.

History[edit]

Front of rooming house at original Frontier City location at the Oklahoma State Fair grounds (1959 photograph)
Last Chance Saloon and skyride at original Frontier City location (1959)

In 1958, Frontier City opened along Route 66, now Interstate 35. The park featured a haunted farm, mine train, robberies and jails. Initially, guests entered the park for free but paid a quarter to watch the gunfight shows. The park started out as Boomtown, a replica of an Oklahoma pioneer town that was built for the state's semi centennial celebration in 1957 at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds. Jimmy Burge, leader of the committee that built Boomtown, decided to open an amusement park with the same theme.[1] Rather than a traditional ribbon cutting, Frontier City was scheduled to have an old fashioned six shooter aimed at a piece of rope stretched across the stockade entrance. The rope stretched across main street is the same manner used today for the opening of the park. The park added spinning rides, roller coasters and a log flume ride starting in the 1960s and 1970s.

Frontier City was originally owned and operated by OKC businessmen James Burge and Jack Williams. Mr. Burge had been a publicist in Hollywood, CA for twenty years for the likes of Joan Crawford and Robert Taylor. He visited Disneyland when it opened in 1955, and was very impressed with the theme park business. Being from Oklahoma City, he knew his hometown would be a natural location for a western-themed amusement park. Back in OKC, he was commissioned as the leader of the 1957 Oklahoma Semi-Centennial Celebration. After the 1957 event was over, Mr. Burge negotiated with the fair board to purchase many of the buildings and props at the "Boom Town" exhibit. He hooked up with Mr. Jack Williams and together they developed the park as a recreation of an 1880s Western town. The four square blocks of streets contained a Marshall's office, saloon, bank, post office, fire department, hotel and numerous storefronts. Attractions at the park included a train ride built by Arrow Dynamics, an authentic stagecoach ride, a donkey ride, and an indoor dark ride designed by Russell Pearson, a former Disney designer who later went on to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO and Ghost Town In The Sky in Maggie Valley, NC.

The park flourished and prospered during its first six seasons, reporting attendance of over one million people each year. Although attendance was rumored to be recorded by Mr. Burge riding around on the train and counting all the heads every hour, which likely led to counting the same people multiple times each day. Frontier City was famous for its gunfights, Indian dancing, saloon shows, train robberies and other similar types of Western experiences.

In the fall of 1981, a local real estate company bought the park with plans to dismantle it and develop the land. However, the oil crunch slowed down the local real estate boom and the startled company found itself with a sagging amusement park to operate. The president of the company at that time realized Oklahoma City needed a local amusement park, but also knew that throwing a few million dollars at Frontier City was not going to be enough to solve its problems. In 1983, the owners hired a management company to operate the park. In 1987, the contract was not renewed, but the management staff went to work directly for the park owners, Frontier City Properties, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Tierco Group, Inc.

In 1995, The Tierco Group, Inc. changed its name to Premier Parks. On February 9, 1998 it was announced that Premier Parks would purchase the Six Flags Theme Park chain from Time Warner for $1.9 billion and changed its name to Six Flags, Inc. [2][3] The world headquarters for Six Flags Inc. was located at the southeast corner of the Frontier City property until 2006 when the company's offices were moved to New York and Texas.

On January 27, 2006, Six Flags put Frontier City and White Water Bay, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Elitch Gardens, Darien Lake, a couple of waterparks, and Wild Waves/Enchanted Village for sale. At the same time, Six Flags also announced its plan to close its corporate offices in Oklahoma City and move to New York City and Texas. Six Flags CEO at that time, Mark Shapiro, said he expected the parks to continue operation after the sale. But rumors surfaced that some of them could close. The announcement also created a lot of confusion in the OKC market. Many people misunderstood the announcement, instead thinking that Frontier City was shutting down and relocating to New York.[4]

On January 11, 2007, Six Flags opted to keep Magic Mountain, but then announced that it would sell Frontier City and White Water Bay, along with Elitch Gardens, Darien Lake, Splashtown (near Houston), and Wild Waves/Enchanted Village to PARC 7F-Operations.[5] As a part of the deal, the Six Flags prefix was removed from the names of Elitch Gardens and Darien Lake. Frontier City and White Water Bay were never branded as Six Flags parks. PARC sold the parks to CNL Income Properties, Inc., and the two companies set up a long-term agreement in which CNL would lease the parks to PARC, which would operate the parks.[6]

In 2008 a new suspended roller coaster, Steel Lasso, was added to celebrate the parks 50th anniversary

On November 24, 2010, CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc. announced that it had reached an agreement to terminate PARC's lease of Frontier City and up to 17 other locations due to PARC defaulting on its contractual lease and loan obligations.[7] The move came after, according to their 2010 SEC filings, PARC defaulted on their lease obligations on the properties.[8] Five of the original six parks originally purchased from Six Flags are also involved in the lease termination.

In 2011, it was announced that, as the result of an agreement with owner CNL Lifestyle Properties, former Six Flags executives Kieran Burke and Gary Story would begin managing the properties as Premier Parks, LLC.[9]

In 2012 a new water play structure was erected in a former parking lot. The area is called Wild West Water Works and features 7 slides, a 1,000 gallon tipping water bucket, and hundreds of water gadgets.[10]

In 2014, Frontier City turned to Plainview, Texas-based Larson International for the new Winged Warrior ride and again in 2015 for the new Brain Drain, a 7 story looping thrill ride.[11]

Another new attraction was added in 2016 called The Gunslinger, a 60' tall spinning thrill ride made by Italian ride manufacturer Zamperla. The Gunslinger was relocated from Magic Spring in Hot Springs, Arkansas, a park also owned by CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc. 2016 also celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Wildcat roller coaster operation at Frontier City. Much of the wood on the Wildcat track was replaced in 2016 to make for a smoother ride.

Special Events[edit]

Frontier City hosts numerous concerts every summer at the Starlight Amphitheater. The concerts are included with the park admission.

Every October Frontier City is transformed into the biggest Halloween festival in Oklahoma: "FrightFest". Several haunted mazes, a large haunted house, trick-or-treating, Halloween shows and a parade takes place nightly. The event is a very popular attraction.

The park is also the location for multiple cheerleading and band competitions throughout the season.

Rides and attractions[edit]

Roller coasters[edit]

Coaster Opened Manufacturer Model Description
Diamondback 1994 Arrow Dynamics Launched Shuttle Loop Relocated from Six Flags Great Adventure to Frontier City in 1993.
Silver Bullet 1986 Anton Schwarzkopf Looping Star Oklahoma's tallest coaster, at some 83 feet (25 m) high.
Steel Lasso 2008 Chance Rides / Vekoma Suspended Family Coaster Steel Lasso is the first, and currently the only, suspended roller coaster in Oklahoma.
Wild Kitty 2013 Allan Herschell Company Little Dipper Relocated from Elitch Gardens.
Wildcat 1991 National Amusement Devices Relocated from Fairyland Park (Kansas City, MO) in 1991.

Thrill/Family Rides[edit]

Rides Opened Manufacturer Model Description
Brain Drain 2015 Larson International 22m Super Loop A 7-story steel looping thrill ride.
Casino Chance Rides Trabant
Dodge 'Ems Duce Bumper Cars Bumper cars for big kids and adults
Geronimo Skycoaster Skycoaster Inc.
Grand Carousel Chance Rides 50 ft. Grand Carrousel A classic merry-go-round
Grand Centennial Ferris Wheel Chance Rides 90' Giant Wheel A gondola Ferris Wheel that gives riders the best view in the west
Gunslinger 2016 Zamperla Power Surge 24 riders at a time flip, twist, and spin through two motor driven rotations
Mystery River Log Flume Arrow Dynamics Log Flume
Ol’ 89er Express Chance Rides C.P. Huntington Take a trip around the entire park in this three-carriage train ride.
Prairie Schooner INTAMIN Bounty Swing back and forth and high into the air on this pirate ship that flies instead of sails.
Quick Draw 2008 Sally Corporation The Great Pistolero Roundup Interactive dark ride revamped in 2007
Renegade Rapids Hopkins Rides River Raft
Sidewinder Eli Bridge Company Scrambler A classic ride that spins in tight circles as the entire ride twirls
Thunder Road Raceway 1999 J&J Amusements Go-Karts
Tin Lizzy’s Chance Rides Electric Cars
Tornado Sellner Manufacturing Tilt-A-Whirl A classic tilting spinning ride
Tumbleweed Chance Rides Spinning Barrel Experience 3 g of centrifugal force as this barrel ride spins and the floor gives way
Wild West Water Works 2012 WhiteWater West AquaPlay RainFortress Five stories tall and features an 1000-gallon tipping bucket, 8 slides, and a large lounging deck
Winged Warrior 2014 Larson International Flying Scooter An interactive flying ride which appeals to all ages

Kids' Rides[edit]

Rides Opened Manufacturer Model Description
Flying Dragons 2001 Zamperla Mini Jet Relocated from Funtricity Entertainment Park
Indian Canoes 1991
Rio Grande 1996 Zamperla Rio Grande Train
Tina’s Tea Party 1997 Zamperla Mini Tea Cup
Tom Toms 1999 Zamperla Mini Swing
The former 89er Ghost Mine, one of the original attractions at Frontier City (1959 photograph)

Defunct/Removed Rides[edit]

Rides Opened Removed Manufacturer Model Description
Bumper Boats 2008 kiddie bumper boats
Eruption 2003 2012 S&S Power Sky Sling Removed due to "manufacturers inability to produce parts for this ride"
Excalibur Arrow Dynamics Mine Train Relocated from AstroWorld, sat in storage and never installed
Hangman 2000 2014 Chance Rides Slingshot
Mindbender 1999 2015 Chance Rides Inverter Removed due to the ride's inability to reopen which is expensive to repair from the Manufacturer.
Nightmare Mine Roller Coaster 1979 2000 S.D.C. Galaxi Originally outdoors as the "Orange Blossom Special", SBNO from 2000-2010, removed in 2010
Swingin' Six Guns 2008 Chance Rides Yo-Yo Removed for Steel Lasso
Tomahawk 2005 2007 Vekoma Air Jumper Removed for Steel Lasso

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ortega, Whitney. "Stories of the Ages: Thrills Gone By"
  2. ^ "Premier Parks Agrees to Buy Six Flags from Time Warner Entertainment and Boston Ventures for $1.9 Billion"
  3. ^ Premier Parks changes name to Six Flags, Inc
  4. ^ Theme Park Insider: Six Flags dumps Oklahoma City HQ, moves to NYC
  5. ^ Heath, Thomas. "Six Flags Sheds Seven Parks," Washington Post, January 12, 2007. Accessed February 20, 2015.
  6. ^ Dunn, Julie. "Elitch Gardens Name to Remain," Denver Post, April 10, 2007. Accessed February 20, 2015.
  7. ^ "Frontier City, White Water Bay in OKC to get new operator". NewsOK. 2010-11-30. Retrieved 2011-01-20. 
  8. ^ "CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc. October 2010 Form 10-Q". 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2011-01-20. 
  9. ^ "Six Flags Execs to manage Frontier City & White Water Bay," NewsOK, January 25, 2011. Accessed February 20, 2015.
  10. ^ "Frontier City makes a splash," Amusement Today, July 2012. Accessed May 15, 2016.
  11. ^ "Frontier City's newest ride offers unique view of the park...upside down," KFOR News Channel 4, June 2, 2015. Accessed May 15, 2016.

External links[edit]