WEST OCEAN CITY — Put on your hat, hitch up your wagon and step back in time as Frontier Town celebrates its 52nd season with new additions and great specials.
Originally built as a Wild West Show in 1959, Frontier Town has since expanded into one of the country’s top family campground and entertainment centers.
"Back in the 50’s and 60’s when part of the Wild West Show involved horsemen, they would travel in horse trailers, put the horses out to pasture and then sleep in the trailer. They [the horsemen] needed a place to park their trailer and that is how the campground got started," said owner Mitch Parker during a tour of his West Ocean City operation last Friday.
As the campground became more and more popular in the coming decade, campers requested more activities and entertainment to keep them occupied during the hot summer months. So, in 1977, the Frontier Town Water Park opened its doors to the public. The main attraction: a concrete, three-flumed waterslide called Red Bird’s Mountain that sent guests splashing into the catch pool below.
Thirty-seven years later, Red Bird’s mountain remains in operation and continues thrilling its riders. The water park, however, has now expanded to include the Lazy River, single and double rider tube slides, and the Watering Hole, a family activity pool featuring covered wagons, cactus fountains, water sprays and even giant umbrellas to provide shade in the wading pool. Tickets for the water park are $14 for adults (42 inches or taller), $12 for children (under 42 inches) and free for guests staying at the campground. Admission is good for all day and includes unlimited rounds of miniature golf between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
"The water park, especially with the heat that we have had this summer, provides a great place for people of all ages to get out of the sun and just stay cool," Parker said.
New to the water park this year is the Poolside Bar featuring a wide array of smoothies, mixed drinks and beer. In addition, guests can stop by the Lazy River Pool Grill for Frontier Town’s famous homemade red chili or other classic favorites like hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken tenders.
Guests looking for a relaxing, sit down lunch can also visit the Lazy River Cantina, located around the corner from the water park entrance and next to the arcade. Now under new management, the Cantina offers its guests a large variety of Mexican-American cuisine.
Although it is located at the front of the property, the water park is not the only part of Frontier Town to have a new addition for this season.
The Frontier Town Campground, rated in the top 2% of facilities in the country by Woodall’s national camping publication, recently added a state-of-the-art dog park for guests to use.
The campground, approximately 200 acres in size, has over 700 campsites located on the property ranging from primitive tents to RV hookups and deluxe cabins. The campground’s deluxe cabins, referred to as "glamour-camping" or "glamping" in the industry, have two bedrooms, a full-bath, kitchen and flat-screen televisions.
"It is a lot more than just pitching a tent and camping on the ground like traditional people would think about," said Parker.
Campground guests also benefit from having a full time activities director and staff on the property. Activities include movie nights, hayrides, live entertainment and arts and crafts. Also available for guests‘ usage are basketball, volleyball and, shuffleboard courts, as well as a boat launch and fishing pier.
"If [guests] come here, they will be able to one-stop-shop in a sense because there are restaurants to eat in, entertainment for children as far as the water park and the arcade, as well as a full activities program for all of the guests and campers who stay with us as well as the Wild West Show," Parker said.
While the rest of the property has grown in both size and character, the original Wild West Show continues to give guests a chance to step back in time and experience life in a replica 1880’s boomtown.
Guests can enjoy lunch in one of the town’s many eateries, try their hand at firing a bow and arrow at the Indian Village or hitch a ride on the train or stagecoach. Keep an eye out for the outlaws though because gunfights and bank robberies are a common sight on the town’s main street. Tickets for the Wild West Show are $14 for adults and $12 for children. Discounts for guests staying at the campground are available.
"I think the Wild West Show gives us a base for our theme and from there we have gone on to provide the modern amenities that people want. It is like the covered wagons in the 1800’s that became the basis for the RVs of today," Parker said.
For more information about pricing, hours of operation or a schedule of activities, visit www.frontiertown.com.
Announcements regarding open camping sites, reservations and the start of daily activities can also be found on the campground’s Facebook and Twitter pages.