WEATHER: Sunny, mid-80s.
ABOUT ME: Male, age 37. Coaster rider since 1977 and fanatic since 1986. I have more than 330 adult coasters on my "track record". I generally prefer wooden coasters to steel because airtime is one of my big criteria. Also, I don't mind a little headbanging on coasters.
RATING SYSTEM: I subscribe to the ubiquitous Griswold scale, which rates coasters and parks on a scale from -3 to +5. Zero indicates a mildly positive rating.
THE PARK: +1
Frontier City is a medium-sized regional amusement park themed around an 1880s Oklahoma town. Short of having rides named Serial Thriller, Mind Eraser or Boomerang, this park clearly shows its Premier heritage. The look, the feel, and the references to Crackaxle Canyon are all very Premier-ish.
You enter the park through a large gift shop. The Diamondback coaster is only accessible through one of the shop's side doors (in fact, the coaster's logo is directly above the door).
The park is attractively landscaped, has plenty of shady places to sit down and is kept reasonably clean, though there were a lot of plastic water bottles lying around on the ground and floating in some of the water features. There are a fair number of flat rides (Ferris Wheel, Scrambler, Terrible Twister (Rotor), Tilt-A-Whirl, Casino), as well as several of the requisite modern spin 'n' puke attractions (Tomahawk, Swingin' Six Guns, Rodeo Round-Up) and the now-ubiquitous Skycoaster and Renegade Rapids whitewater raft ride. Frontier City has an uninteresting small freefall ride, the 12-person S&S "Hangman" Turbo Drop tower, which doesn't feel like a freefall (much too slow).
The park's layout leaves something to be desired. It is moderately confusing, and there are no clearly identified "main paths" or signs marking the way to major attractions. Lots of path wander aimlessly, finally reaching an area or attraction of interest.
The park has four roller coasters: the 1968 Wildcat, the 1977 Diamondback, the 1979 Silver Bullet, and the 1989 Nightmare Mine. Interestingly enough, none of the coasters was originally built at Frontier City. The Wildcat came from the defunct Fairyland Park; the Diamondback was one half of the interlocking Lightnin' Loops at Great Adventure and the Silver Bullet and Nightmare Mine were both traveling coasters. The park also has a fairly bland dark ride, Treasure Mountain, a smaller log flume with a couple of redeeming qualities (including an extremely long dark tunnel straight out of the loading platform, which is itself about eight feet below grade!), and a Dodgem populated with cars that have little oomph whatsoever. The kiddie ride section features a handful of pint-size attractions. The park has a $24.95 pay one price admission and is open weekends only this early in the season, approximately 12-8.
The park feels like a typical Premier park with no soul. The staff and ride ops were reasonably friendly, but were not really in to their jobs.
As I've said before, I love it when a park puts some faith in the sensibilities of its patrons instead of surrounding them with rules and Theme Park Mentality. The park's scenic train ride crosses pedestrian paths without the use of gate crossing arms in at least four places!
The items available for sale in the gift shops were pretty straightforward and did nothing to distinguish the park.
The park has a fairly diverse selection of food available. During our visit, we only patronized the Santa Fe Barbeque sit-down restaurant. The $7 rib dinner was more than a meal, featuring three enormous beef ribs slathered in your choice of mild (wimpy) or hot (makes your nose run) barbeque sauce and your choice of two sides, including fried okra, green beans, french fries, baked beans, and cole slaw. Of those, we can vouch for the cole slaw, the french fries and the baked beans being very tasty, though not nearly so as the ribs themselves. The ribs were so tender the meat fell off the bone in slabs. The $3.25 sodas were overpriced, though.
Second worst (though a distant second) only to Six Flags Ohio. They did not appear to have been recently cleaned, many of the toilets were...how shall I say it..."full"? Frontier City has four sets of bathrooms, but they are not effectively spread throughout the park.
The park really only had one major show running (the Wild West Gunfighters Stunt Show), and only twice a day at that. The Stunt Show was well choreographed, timed perfectly to match the sound-effects soundtrack. The four guys performing in it were obviously having a good time and played the characters of the smart sheriff/stupid deputy and smart/stupid outlaw brothers to the hilt, as Keystone Kops as the oversimplified plotline permitted. The special effects, including a huge "dynamite" explosion and a surprise wet ending, came out of nowhere and were well done.
I didn't know what to expect from the park since there are very few trip reports about Frontier City available on the Internet. Based on my first trip, however, I do not expect to return any time soon since the re-ridability of the coasters is sorely lacking. The Wildcat coaster is a worthwhile but not outstanding ride, and the rest of the coasters are one-trick ponies. Sure, the Diamondback is novel, being one of the rare Arrow launched shuttle loops, and the Nightmare Mine is unique being an indoor, themed SDC Windstorm, but these are hardly world-class attractions. Also, the peppy Silver Bullet is just too short.
I have only been to one other park that didn't immediately beg for a return visit--Dorney Park, which I visited in 1997, but which has since added three major attractions. Frontier City would need to really pump up their ride offerings for me to consider coming back. In fact, after only four hours at the park our group was tiring of the place, having already gotten more than our fill of everything except perhaps the Wildcat, so we ate a satisfying rib dinner at the park and then packed into the car and drove 100 miles to Tulsa to sample Bell's Amusement Park, which as it turned out was open and seemed a much likelier place to have a good time--and at least we'd get some night rides in since Bell's closes at 9 on Sundays, a full hour later than Frontier City.
Wildcat (1968 Aurel Vaszin/N.A.D. single out and back) +2
I really didn't know what to expect from this coaster, especially since I couldn't see much of it. Other than the lift hill and the final brake run, it is swallowed by the thick trees in the back of Frontier City. The cycle time on the coaster was very short, so I knew the total track length was a great deal shorter Joyland's Roller Coaster which I had ridden just the day before.
Our group jumped in the last car of the 3-bench, 3-car PTC train. which is outfitted with nicely stiff individually ratcheting lap bars that never came down under positive G pressure. Out of the station, the train turns right and immediately ascends the lift hill and then turns right into the first drop. The drop is not steep and offers no air time, but the crest of the 2nd hill provides anywhere from a pop of air time to sustained floatage, as do the next two hills. Coming out of the 4th hill drop, the train suddenly shoots up and to the right (accompanied by some wonderfully violent laterals!) into a slightly-greater-than-180-degree turnaround, another drop, a sudden leftward course correction, and then a series of bunny hills and another slight direction change before flying in to the brake run, which happens exactly where you wouldn't expect it. Most people, including us on our first try, hurt themselves as their stomachs took the brunt of the sudden stop's force.
The back seat was definitely the best seat in the train.
The ride ops lifted UP on lap bars to check them, which was particularly nice since our group kept plenty of room between our laps and the bars!
The station does not have air gates, but it does have chains blocking the end of each seat queue which riders must release and the ride op subsequently re-secures once the train has been dispatched. Though the ride ops do not let anyone in to the seat queues until the previous train is dispatched, they do not assign seats, so you have some flexibility in choosing where you want to sit.
Lines were perhaps three trains deep at most during the day.
The coaster's queuing is full of stuff to look at--there are endless displays detailing the history of roller coasters, nationally and locally known lost coasters, and a discussion of ACE. ACE is also thanked on a monument outside the station for their support during the relocation of this coaster from its SBNO location in Kansas City's Fairyland Park to Oklahoma City in 1990.
Diamondback (1977 Arrow launched shuttle loop) +1
Other than being an anachronism, this coaster doesn't have much going for it. It's fun once, perhaps twice, but the thrill wears off as the bruise marks begin to appear on your arms. For those of you unfamiliar with this rare ride, the Arrow shuttle loop involves a standard 7-car, 2-row, 2-across Arrow train outfitted with horsecollars that is launched from a platform about 40 feet off the ground by a bogey which pushes the train out of the station. The train goes over a very sudden drop, which launches riders skyward, and then immediately drops into a tight clothoid loop. From there, the train ascends a hill roughly the same height as the launch platform, riders launch skyward again as the train crests the hill, and then rolls to a stop where another bogey pushes you backwards and the process repeats itself in reverse. The drop out of the far station is so sudden riders violently shoot upward, so much so that upper arms become painfully wedged between the hard over-the-shoulder restraints and the body of the coaster train itself.
Silver Bullet (1979 Anton Schwarzkopf Looping Star) +2
The moment I saw this, I realized it was the Dorney Park Laser's little brother. Other than its paint job and only having one loop, it looks just like it! This peppy little steelie ascends a very steep lift hill directly out of the station, then swoops down and to the right in a tight, compact twist before going in to the loop itself and from there into a series of swoops, a couple of powerful airtime-laden speed hills, and turnarounds. The last turnaround of the ride is inside a tunnel. Since this ride was designed to be portable, its layout is extremely compact and features extremely sharp turns. Also, you have to give bonus points to any looper that only uses lap bars. All hail the sadist Schwarzkopf!
Nightmare Mine (1989 SDC Windstorm; themed; indoor) N/A
This coaster was not operating the day of our visit.
Hangman (2000 Chance Slingshot) +1
This is the smallest S&S tower I've yet seen -- I would have expected one this small to be a portable unit, but this one is permanently installed. The best part is the launch UP since it's much more sudden than the speed-is-obviously-controlled freefall descent. Had the launch up not been exciting, this ride would have received a zero.