Frontier City

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Frontier City
Frontier City Logo.png
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 EPR Properties
Operated by Six Flags Entertainment Corporation
Opened 1958 (1958)
Operating season April – January
Area 55 acres (220,000 m2)
109 acres (0.44 km2) total
Total 28
Roller coasters 5
Water rides 3

Frontier City is a western-themed amusement park in Oklahoma City. It is owned by EPR Properties and operated by Six Flags Entertainment Corporation.


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, the park opened along Route 66, now Interstate 35. It featured a haunted farm, mine train, robberies and jails. Initially, guests entered for free but paid a quarter to watch the gunfight shows. It 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 it, decided to open an amusement park with the same theme.[1] Rather than a traditional ribbon cutting, it was scheduled to have an old fashioned six shooter aimed at a piece of rope stretched across the stockade entrance. That is the same manner used today for its opening. It added spinning rides, roller coasters, and a log flume ride starting in the 1960s and 1970s.

The park was originally owned and operated by OKC businessmen James Burge and Jack Williams. He had been a publicist in Hollywood 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 there, he was commissioned as the leader of the 1957 Oklahoma Semi-Centennial Celebration. After the 1957 event was over, he negotiated with the fair board to purchase many of the buildings and props at the "Boom Town" exhibit. He partnered with 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, Missouri and Ghost Town In The Sky in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

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 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. It 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 the park was not going to be enough to solve its problems. In 1983, the owners hired a management company to operate it. 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 they would purchase the Six Flags 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 park's property until 2006 when the company's offices were moved to New York City and Grand Prairie, 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 water parks, and Wild Waves/Enchanted Village for sale. At the same time, they also announced their plan to close its corporate offices in Oklahoma City and move to New York City and Grand Prairie, Texas. Mark Shapiro, Six Flags CEO at that time, 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 Oklahoma City 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 Elitch Gardens and Darien Lake. Frontier City and White Water Bay were never branded as Six Flags parks. PARC sold them 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 them.[6]

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

On November 24, 2010, CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc. announced that it had reached an agreement to terminate PARC's lease of the park 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 multi-million dollar water play structure was erected in a former parking lot. The area is called Wild West Water Works and features seven slides, a 1,000 gallon tipping water bucket, and hundreds of water gadgets.[10]

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

Another new attraction was added in 2016 called The Gunslinger, a 60-foot-tall spinning thrill ride made by Italian ride manufacturer Zamperla. It 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. Much of the wood on its track was replaced in 2016 to make for a smoother ride.

After the 2016 season the park was again sold, this time to EPR Properties[12] which is operating it under the name Frontier City Holdings LLC. Premier parks has continued on as the management company with Stephen Ball continuing to act as its General Manager.[13]

For the 2017 season the Wildcat received a complete train makeover with rebuilt cars which includes new lap bars as well as a new color scheme of dark blue from its previous red. A new million dollar water ride was added to the Wild West Waterworks called the Gully Washer[14] which consists of three high-thrill water slides that will start from a tower approximately 66 feet tall. One of the new shows for the 2017 season performed in the Opera House is called "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" which replaced the show "Industrial Movement" and revisited the music of the 50's and 60's era.[15]

On May 22, 2018, Six Flags Entertainment Corporation announced that they had entered into a purchase agreement with Premier Parks to acquire the lease rights to operate the park, which would remain under EPR Properties ownership.[16]

Special Events[edit]

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

Every October the park 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.

In 2018 the park will kick off its inaugural "Holiday in the park " event, adding 27 operating days in the period between November and January

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. Closing in 2018 to make room for a new area called Timber Town opening in 2019 which will include 4 new rides.
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 2000 Chance Rides Trabant
Dodge 'Ems 1998 Duce Bumper Cars Bumper cars for big kids and adults
Geronimo Skycoaster 1995 Skycoaster Inc.
Grand Carousel 1998 Chance Rides 50 ft. Grand Carrousel A classic merry-go-round
Grand Centennial Ferris Wheel 1993 Chance Rides 90' Giant Wheel A gondola Ferris Wheel that gives riders the best view in the west
Gullywasher 2017 ProSlide Technology TurboTwister custom Riders blast through narrow looping and twisting tunnels on one of the most exhilarating water rides around.
Gunslinger 2016 Zamperla Power Surge 24 riders at a time flip, twist, and spin through two motor driven rotations
Mystery River Log Flume Hopkins Rides 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 You and your family will tame the wild twists and turns of this river rapids adventure
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 Experience the thrill of race car driving with family and friends
Tin Lizzy’s Chance Rides Electric Cars
Tornado Sellner Manufacturing Tilt-A-Whirl A classic tilting spinning ride
Tumbleweed April 11, 1992[17] Chance Rides Spinning Barrel Experience 3 g of centrifugal force as this barrel ride spins and the floor gives way; it was originally named Terrible Twister,[18] and the name was changed to Tumbleweed for the 2014 season[19]
Wild West Water Works 2012 WhiteWater West AquaPlay RainFortress Five stories tall and features a 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)

Past 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, ride got damaged while moving, and never got installed.
Hangman 2000 2014 Chance Rides Slingshot Replaced By Winged Warrior
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", closed from 2000-2010, removed in 2010
Rodeo Round-Up 2015 HUSS Enterprise Removed for Gunslinger
Swingin' Six Guns 2008 Chance Rides Yo-Yo Removed for Steel Lasso
Tomahawk 2007 Vekoma Air Jumper Removed for Steel Lasso


It is the subject of the song "Frontier City" by the Nashville band Kings of Leon, as drummer Nathan Followill once worked there.[citation needed]


External links[edit]