The Parks of Arkansas and Oklahoma

Magic Springs, Frontier City, and Kiddie Park Bartlesville
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The Parks of Arkansas and Oklahoma

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Sun Jul 26, 2015 6:28 pm

Week 1: Magic Springs

This weekend we went camping in Arkansas and used the opportunity to hit up Magic Springs. None of us had ever been there, and probably due to our low expectations, we were rather impressed. The one major drawback is that it was about 236 degrees. I expected heat (we were going to the South in July), but WOW. The waterpark helped with the heat, but it still really got to us and we left in the afternoon. I only have a few photos, since we spent most of our time in the waterpark, and thus my camera spend most of its time in the fluffy bunny.

As I’ve done before, I’ll review the park in several categories: theming, food, operations, waterpark, water rides, flats, and coasters.

Theming : Nearly nonexistent. The signs for some rides are fancifully done, but overall Six Flags is a well-themed park by comparison. The natural setting of the park is amazing, however. I may be a bit biased, but the Ozarks are just incredible. Magic Springs does very well at their landscaping, and everything looked well-kept. I didn’t see paint peeling anywhere, and there were many bright colours on the buildings and rides.

Food: They really need to step it up. We tried to buy a funnel cake at a stand that sells just one thing: funnel cakes. I was told they were out of funnel cakes, and it would be 20 minutes before they would make anymore. What’s worse, I was told this by all three people working at the stand. All of them telling me that no one was making funnel cakes—meanwhile no one was making funnel cakes. We didn’t attempt to buy any other food there.

Operations: All the ride operations were atrociously slow. They were only running one train on every coaster, and only two ride ops in each station, except for Diamond Mine Run had only one. No one was in a hurry to dispatch anything, and it seemed like it was several minutes between being seated and actually having someone come around to check the restraints. If it weren’t for the very short lines, the waits would have been horrendous. The guy running Diamond Mine Run was really good though; he got the kids on and off really quick by himself.

Waterpark: Had I not been to Splashin’ Safari just a couple of months ago, I’d say this was the best I had been to. It certainly far exceeds anything we have in Missouri. One of the really cool things about it is that there is an area for little kids right next to each slide complex. That made it really easy for me to take my oldest daughter on the big slides while my wife stayed with the younger ones.

Crystal Lagoon Jr. is the newest attraction, and it was pretty cool for a kids’ pool. There were waterfalls and even a miniature bowl slide, just like the ones at Seven Falls right behind it.

Water rides: We didn’t ride Old No. 2; it seemed like the only ride that was gaining any type of line at all. Plummet Summit was very good, though; I do like that style of flume.

Flats: Dr. Dean’s Rocket Machine was fun; can’t really go wrong with an S&S Doubleshot. The other two big flats (yes, only 3) were not for me; much too much spinning involved. The pirate ship was okay, and the carousel was nice. Nothing looked like it was falling apart, at least; there just weren’t a whole lot of rides.

Coasters: Let’s take them one by one.
Arkansas Twister – Closed for the whole day. They were doing some re-tracking and replacing supports in the final turnaround. I don’t have any pictures, because the only place to see it is from Seven Falls’ tower, and each time I was up there I didn’t have my camera, since I was about to go down a waterslide.

Big Bad John – I must say that Six Flags over Mid-America chose to remove the correct side of River King Mine Train. It was fun, but not as good as its estranged sister in St. Louis.

Diamond Mine Run – Surprisingly great children’s coaster. We rode it four times (and the only coaster we re-rode).

Gauntlet – My first Vekoma SLC. I heard all the terrible things, and I expected it to be awful. I found that as long as I kept my head back, it was okay, but still quite uncomfortable. I liked the intensity, but I can’t say anything else good about it.

X-Coaster – This was amazingly fun. It was my first vertical lift that wasn’t on a Chance Toboggan coaster. Awesome level of hangtime at the top, and the impulse-like halfpipe finish--wow. Great coaster!
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Plummet Summit and Gauntlet. Plummet Summit was down while I was taking this picture, but they had it back up within about 10 minutes. Great hustle!
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It was hard to get a photo of X-Coaster. It is so much taller than everything else, and somewhat behind things too.
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Great little plaza here--something for everyone. X-Coaster, Big Bad John, Dr. Dean's Rocket Machine, Wild Thang, and Ozark Mountain Taxis are all right here.
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Ozark Mountain Taxis was the longest wait, due to only running 2 cars. They had about 8 off the track needing maintenance.
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Dr. Dean has a fun rocket machine. Make of that statement what you will.
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Wild Thang turns my stomach just looking at it. Plenty of people seem to like it, though.
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And THROUGH THE TREES...Crystal Falls. Its sirens beckoned us weary travelers who were tired of sweating in near 100 degree heat.
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Re: The Parks of Arkansas and Oklahoma

Postby DoinItForTheFame » Mon Jul 27, 2015 3:04 pm

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Theming : Nearly nonexistent. The signs for some rides are fancifully done, but overall Six Flags is a well-themed park by comparison.

I agree with the nonexistent theming. Having just visited SDC before going to Magic Springs. When we walked into Magic Springs it seriously felt like we were at a random state fair. Magic Springs makes Six Flags look like a Disney park!

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Food: They really need to step it up. We tried to buy a funnel cake at a stand that sells just one thing: funnel cakes. I was told they were out of funnel cakes, and it would be 20 minutes before they would make anymore. What’s worse, I was told this by all three people working at the stand. All of them telling me that no one was making funnel cakes—meanwhile no one was making funnel cakes. We didn’t attempt to buy any other food there.

This has apparently become the new normal for the park. Last time we were at the park we went to get lunch... There was one family of 4 in front of us, and it took just shy of an hour to actually get our food. Like, I am not a chef, or anything like that but I do not see it taking an hour to cook 2 freaking hot dogs. Not to mention we gave the guy our credit card, and he disappeared for about 15 minutes. Seriously, the food department needs some work.

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Operations: All the ride operations were atrociously slow. They were only running one train on every coaster, and only two ride ops in each station, except for Diamond Mine Run had only one. No one was in a hurry to dispatch anything, and it seemed like it was several minutes between being seated and actually having someone come around to check the restraints. If it weren’t for the very short lines, the waits would have been horrendous. The guy running Diamond Mine Run was really good though; he got the kids on and off really quick by himself.

Operations in this park are awful. Last time we were there we were so annoyed with dispatches taking forever that we decided to time them, just because we were curious. Arkansas Twister had 5-10 minutes between dispatches. The only crew that was actually good at dispatching was the X-Coaster crew. Then again, they have 12 seats to check... I mean... How hard could that be??

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Waterpark: Had I not been to Splashin’ Safari just a couple of months ago, I’d say this was the best I had been to. It certainly far exceeds anything we have in Missouri. One of the really cool things about it is that there is an area for little kids right next to each slide complex. That made it really easy for me to take my oldest daughter on the big slides while my wife stayed with the younger ones.

Crystal Falls is actually a decent water park, and they have a nice mix of slides!! The Flowrider is a blast!!

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Water rides: We didn’t ride Old No. 2; it seemed like the only ride that was gaining any type of line at all. Plummet Summit was very good, though; I do like that style of flume.

You didn't miss much not riding Old No. 2. Plummet Summit is by far a great way to cool off on a hot day!!

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Flats: Dr. Dean’s Rocket Machine was fun; can’t really go wrong with an S&S Doubleshot. The other two big flats (yes, only 3) were not for me; much too much spinning involved. The pirate ship was okay, and the carousel was nice. Nothing looked like it was falling apart, at least; there just weren’t a whole lot of rides.

Dr. Dean's provides a nice pop of air at the top for it being such a small tower! Wild Thang isn't that bad. I can not do your typical spin and puke rides, but I can handle Wild Thang, and it is a lot of fun!!

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Arkansas Twister – Closed for the whole day. They were doing some re-tracking and replacing supports in the final turnaround. I don’t have any pictures, because the only place to see it is from Seven Falls’ tower, and each time I was up there I didn’t have my camera, since I was about to go down a waterslide.

You didn't miss much with Arkansas Twister... just a really rough coaster!

- - - - -

Glad you at least enjoyed the visit!! Can't wait for the next report. It's nice to see reports of parks that are not posted on here often.
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Re: The Parks of Arkansas and Oklahoma

Postby Shavethewhales » Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:07 pm

lol, you're on your way to kiddie park, huh? I'm hoping to finally get back on that old coaster with my little nephew sometime in the next few weeks as well. That's my home town, and kiddie park is where my obsession began. Be sure to stop by Dinks' BBQ while you are there - it's my personal favorite in the world.

Bummer that Arkansas Twister is down for retracking in July though... I was actually considering going down there soon, but now I guess I'll wait till next year.

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Re: The Parks of Arkansas and Oklahoma

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Tue Jul 28, 2015 4:57 am

^ Yeah, I have family in Bartlesville, so I went to Kiddie Park with my cousins when I was little, maybe around 1990 or so. I have little kids now, so it'll be fun to get back there with them. From the look of the Youtube videos, it seems a few rides may very well be the same ones that were there then.

We're also going to Woolaroc and Tulsa Zoo while we're in the area--the zoo has the dinosaur exhibit this summer. Bell's was originally on this itinerary, but with the lack of anything going on there, we're skipping it. I love the idea of supporting a guy putting his family business back together, but if he's not putting much effort into it, it's not worth my while either.
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Re: The Parks of Arkansas and Oklahoma

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:56 pm

Week 2: Frontier City

To save money, our summer vacation is consisting of several extended weekends rather than one big trip, and the second weekend's destination was Frontier City. It was overall a very good experience. We were there on Friday, arriving at opening and leaving about 8. We got to ride everything we wanted to, re-ride the best ones, and spend some time at the waterpark as well. Lines were minimal all day, due to it being a weekday and a forecast of thunderstorms. The rain never actually came to the park at all outside of two brief drizzles, but it did make for a lovely cool and cloudy day. There were plenty of rides for families, so we loved it, though some who are looking for higher thrills may be disappointed.

Theming : Above average. The Herschend touch is very much a part of this park, even so many years after they sold it off. It really felt like we were at a more compact version of Silver Dollar City, from the national anthem at opening right down to the ubiquitous puns. How deep does the theming go? Brain Drain had a backstory--of being the latest sideshow medical cure for all sorts of ailments. Bonus points for that one!

Food: They had many food stands throughout the park closed on the day we visited, likely for staffing reasons. That made for a bit of a hike for snacks and drink refills. Food quality was good everywhere we went. The stalls had well-marked queues that kept the lines from going out into the paths, but in several places condiments, napkins, etc. were placed prior to the window, not after, so that guests would have to reach through the queue to get what they needed. Definitely some room for improvement here, but overall well done.

Operations: Frontier City knows how to run one train with two attendants. It’s amazing how a bit of hustle makes so much difference. It was hard for us not to contrast it with Magic Springs, since we had been there just the weekend before. What Frontier City did was to only allow the people who were going to be on the next train in the station and hold everyone else back. They then dispatched the train, and while it was running, brought in the next group and went through all the safety spiels so that the second that train came back they loaded the next one. All the coaster crews were doing this parkwide; it worked wonderfully, and they really kept lines moving this way.

Waterpark: They do have a full size waterpark across town, but the distance is great enough that they include a small slide complex at Frontier City as well. It’s essentially playground equipment with a giant waterbucket. We spent about an hour and a half there, and the kids had a lot of fun. One complaint, though, is that the highway noise is really noticeable in that area. Yes, I realize the park is right next to I-35, but you can’t really hear the highway in most places in the park. At Wild West Water Works, it’s really noticeable.

Water rides: Both are quite good, and most welcome in the persistent Oklahoma heat.
Mystery River – What do you do when you don’t have much land but want a long flume ride? Build it underground! The extended darkness provides some relief for the heat, but there are also scenes throughout the ride as well. Reminds me of American Plunge pre-Wildfire. This was our longest wait of the day at around half an hour.

Renegade Rapids – This was unusual, at least among the rapids rides I’ve been on, in that it has a near-constant bouncing motion rather than the more common set-up for a big splash. It also features eight-person boats and separate loading and unloading stations, so the line went very quickly, about 20 minutes. The park set up fans every few feet and covered the queue, so the wait was probably the most comfortable of any ride.

Dark ride: Frontier City’s dark ride is Quick Draw. It was merely okay; it didn’t seem to have a coherent story line, but was just a series of scenes with stuff to shoot. Also, and I found this odd for a park with such an emphasis on family rides, each car only held 2 guests. We’re used to riding this sort as a family, so having to split up the group made for some unexpected logistical decisions.

Flats: As one would expect of a small park, it has a large number of flats, so I’ll review a few of the notable ones.
Brain Drain – This was my most anticipated flat. The Larson Super Loops are a bit polarizing around here, and I wanted to see for myself. It’s a great fit for this park; it’s one of the biggest rides, in a great location, and provides a much-needed high thrill for a park that is a bit lacking in that area. For me, personally, though, it went just a tad too long. I don’t do too well with spinning rides, but I am a fan of pirate ships, Screamin’ Swings, and the like, so usually as long as there’s no lateral movement, I’m good. With this one, I was loving it through the first 7 inversions, but by the time it finished the tenth, I was a bit queasy. I think if it had had 8 inversions (4 each direction), I would have really enjoyed it, but as it was, I rode it once and was done. Sorry Brain Drain; it’s not you, it’s me.

Casino – This ride looked really cool. I didn’t ride it, but my wife and 2 older kids did, and they said it was really fun. I don’t think I’ve seen one like it, even at the fair.

Grand Centennial Ferris Wheel – My youngest daughter’s favourite ride by far. We went on it four times throughout the day. It’s built on top of the park’s largest hill, so you get a great view of the surrounding area, which despite the freeway junction (I-35 & I-44) is somewhat undeveloped and there’s a nice view of rolling hills.

Winged Warrior – This seemed to me to be larger than Holiday World’s version, but that may just be because Frontier City’s is elevated on a wooden deck structure. It was pretty fun too, but there was quite a bit of wind, so the cars twisted more than I would have liked.

Coasters: Frontier City has three outstanding coasters. Nothing that should be in anyone’s top 10, but fun and providing a variety of experiences in a relatively small footprint.
Diamondback – This was the one disappointing coaster. It didn’t really launch, had a much too sharp dip into the loop, and rattled too much throughout. It wasn’t really painful, just wasn’t fun. Once and done.

Silver Bullet – This was my first Schwarzkopf looper (not my first Schwarzkopf in general, as I’ve been on Zambezi Zinger and Whizzer as well). The loop was utterly perfect, but it kept great pacing throughout, with several bits of airtime, and screaming through the tunnel nearly sideways for an exhilarating finish. Despite this being 40 years old and relocated several times, it’s the park’s smoothest coaster.

Steel Lasso – Vekoma can make a good coaster! Steel Lasso was very fun from start to finish. The first drop was more forceful than I thought it would be, and the final helix was very good as well. It was my oldest daughter’s favourite coaster.

Wildcat – This was my son’s favourite coaster. It was relocated from the old Fairyland Park in Kansas City, which I don’t remember at all. The pacing is very good, and it’s not rough at all. The only flaw is the awkward brake right before what would have been the water splashdown. Other than that, it was a lot of fun.

Wild Kitty – I rode this one with my five-year-old. He enjoyed it, but it was quite painful for me. We rode twice in a row, and then I was done. Fortunately, there were also two other, much better coasters for the kids as well.
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Re: The Parks of Arkansas and Oklahoma

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Mon Aug 03, 2015 4:00 pm

And now the photos!
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Diamondback warming up
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Great looking parking lot coaster! Look at it from the parking lot!
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Entrance plaza was small but very nice.
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Look at that plaza, all entrancing and stuff.
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Authentic frontier outhouses!
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Just like at Silver Dollar City, you enter and exit through the gift shop. It's also where you queue for Diamondback.
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The Chuck E. Cheese band has a side gig here.
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Here's where the launched wing coaster is.
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Straight to the back for Silver Bullet!
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Then on to tame the wild cat.
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The ferris wheel was remarkably good for being a pretty standard ride. Location is everything.
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No one was on the train yet. Not when all the coasters are walk ons!
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Tin Lizzy was an uninspired layout, but in all fairness, there's probably not much else they could have done with that hillside.
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Robot cows don't stand a chance against the Steel Lasso.
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Who's up for some roulette?
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If you've got an ailment....
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Have they got a cure for you!
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See? It's totally legit!
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The park had some great theming in general. Shops like this all over the place. Really felt very Herschend-esque,
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The kids really enjoyed these play houses in Timber Town.
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Mini tea cups. Always a good time for the kids.
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Heh, them city slickers thinks they knows how to spell far'.
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They also have flash passes, in that you are able to flash your pass for a discount on food.
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Quick Draw was a bit disappointing. These days you've got to do a lot more with a dark ride if you want to impress.
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On the plus side, it has this random train car on its backside!
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Mystery River was a great flume. I love the fountains on either side.
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Warriors of the winged variety.
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Rodeo Round Up was down all day. Seems to happen a lot to Enterprises lately.
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Sidewinder was running, and decently popular it seemed.
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Thunder Road is the park's totally thematically appropriate go kart track. Frontiersmen would often use these devices to herd cattle on the long drives.
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These rapids follow their own rules.
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Take the tunnel!
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Wild West Water Works was nice to have in the hottest part of the afternoon.
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There's a food stand here too, just the one. I didn't use any filters here; it really looks washed out and old-timey. Amazing theming!
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Why, you're welcome! Anything else you want to say, my good sign?
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Why yes, I do!
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Re: The Parks of Arkansas and Oklahoma

Postby Geauga Dog » Mon Aug 03, 2015 6:32 pm

Thank you for your coverage of a couple of parks we don't read too much about in the forums.

As much as I love many of the larger parks I've been to I have taken an interest as of late in more of the smaller/mid-sized parks and Frontier City seems like a park that I would thoroughly enjoy. Looks to have a decent selection of rides and who can go wrong with a Schwarzkopf looper? The theming of the western buildings look great and even though Brain Drain doesn't sound like a Wild West name they sure did a fantastic job in making it fit in with the rest of the park.

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Re: The Parks of Arkansas and Oklahoma

Postby Shavethewhales » Mon Aug 03, 2015 8:45 pm

Every time Frontier City gets mentioned I make a point of pointing out just how much work has been done on the place in the last ten years. If you haven't been since the Six Flags days, it may be worth a visit. There isn't much new ride-wise, and the coaster selection is sub-par, but the park itself is truly on the upswing. They've basically rebuilt the entire place - a huge amount of work has gone into overhauling all of the infrastructure and operations. Back when Six Flags sold the place off it was a dying property that was considered a joke by the city, but now it is routinely packed out and is quickly becoming more and more popular.

The Herschends were never involved with this property though. They were involved in a short-lived joint venture to build White Water Bay (as well as three other White Water brand waterparks in Texas, Atlanta, and Branson). I could understand the confusion though, lately Frontier City has been copy-cating Silver Dollar City on a few key elements, such as creating their own singing saloon show!

Diamondback, like so many coasters, is polarizing. You can't ride it too many times, and your mileage may vary based on body parameters, but I find it enjoyable. Sit in the right seats and you get some crazy ejector air.

Big things are on the way for this park, I can feel it. They bought up most of that old RV park last year I believe.... I think they're working on buying the old hotel sites as well so they can push back the parking lot and give themselves more room for the park.

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Re: The Parks of Arkansas and Oklahoma

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Tue Aug 04, 2015 6:32 am

Shavethewhales wrote:The Herschends were never involved with this property though. They were involved in a short-lived joint venture to build White Water Bay (as well as three other White Water brand waterparks in Texas, Atlanta, and Branson). I could understand the confusion though, lately Frontier City has been copy-cating Silver Dollar City on a few key elements, such as creating their own singing saloon show

Interesting. I had heard they were involved on both White Water and Frontier City, then sold both to Six Flags. Thanks for the correction. Well, if the theming isn't theirs, it's certainly in their style, which is a very good move on Frontier City's part.
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Re: The Parks of Arkansas and Oklahoma

Postby ElvisLuv » Tue Aug 04, 2015 12:36 pm

Shavethewhales wrote:Every time Frontier City gets mentioned I make a point of pointing out just how much work has been done on the place in the last ten years. If you haven't been since the Six Flags days, it may be worth a visit. There isn't much new ride-wise, and the coaster selection is sub-par, but the park itself is truly on the upswing. They've basically rebuilt the entire place - a huge amount of work has gone into overhauling all of the infrastructure and operations. Back when Six Flags sold the place off it was a dying property that was considered a joke by the city, but now it is routinely packed out and is quickly becoming more and more popular.

The Herschends were never involved with this property though. They were involved in a short-lived joint venture to build White Water Bay (as well as three other White Water brand waterparks in Texas, Atlanta, and Branson). I could understand the confusion though, lately Frontier City has been copy-cating Silver Dollar City on a few key elements, such as creating their own singing saloon show!

Diamondback, like so many coasters, is polarizing. You can't ride it too many times, and your mileage may vary based on body parameters, but I find it enjoyable. Sit in the right seats and you get some crazy ejector air.

Big things are on the way for this park, I can feel it. They bought up most of that old RV park last year I believe.... I think they're working on buying the old hotel sites as well so they can push back the parking lot and give themselves more room for the park.


I believe they helped get Adventure River in Memphis open too. I remember seeing White Water branded tubes there as well. Aren't both Frontier City and Magic Springs owned by the equity firm along with Elitch Gardens and Darien Lake. I do think they have different actual park management teams. Magic Springs has so much promise, it needs to just fall into the right hands. TheY need a couple of kiddie rides, a couple more flats and another coaster like a Mack spinner like I mentioned in the other Magic Springs thread. This park also screams for a Wooden Warrior type woodie. All that waterpark needs is a combination water coaster and funnel raft side to really be something. It is better than Whitewater in Branson. You could make the argument it's the best between Dallas and Atlanta crom the west to east and from the Gulf to the Missouri and Ohio Rivers from the north and south. I wonder what this park could be like under someone like Dan Koch.

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