We woke up in our Oklahoma City hotel to a grim weather forecast, with a severe risk of thunderstorms coupled with a tornado warning. It was also quite cold, the temperature being low enough that shorts were not a realistic option. We drove from the hotel to the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, which wasn't exactly my cup of tea but an absolute must-do for my girlfriend, and after an hour there we headed onwards to the park.
My last visit to Frontier City ten years ago was quite disappointing, partially due to the behaviour of the chairman of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain, but mostly due to a number of awful operational policies, which my previous report covers in depth. I'm pleased to report that these issues have been corrected across the board. Today the various rides were being operated efficiently, and staff went out of their way to be friendly, turning our half day in the park into a memorable experience for the right reasons.
The remains of the old Nightmare Mine, a coaster which lay dormant for a number of years, have been removed in favour of a new junior inverted coaster from Vekoma. Steel Lasso (#1909) is the standard model of this design, albeit the first of the family to operate with lap bars rather than over-the-shoulder restraints. The result is a fun if not particularly thrilling ride that the whole family can enjoy.
The classic Schwarzkopf Looping Star, Silver Bullet, has recently been repainted from its original blue and orange to an understated white and silver scheme that looks fantastic. Better yet, the ride felt noticeably faster than the other versions I've ridden recently. On my third lap, a strong lateral force on the turn into the brake run threw me sideways, and were it not for the restraint I'd have definitely ended up in a different seat to where I started.
Three rows of the Wildcat were roped off today, and as the park only has a single train we were prepared for a bit of a wait, but efficient operations kept the queue moving quickly. Waiting for a specific seat is not allowed, but as luck would have it, we managed both a front and a back, and both locations felt better than I remembered. There were a few areas of the track in need of work, but there was nothing heinous apart from the violent slam into the brake run that felt more akin to a car crash than a controlled stop on a coaster. On my second ride I remembered to brace for impact, making the experience much more pleasant.
The enormous ride towers from ErUPtion can still be seen standing next to Wildcat, but a cursory glance was enough to show that the ride will never operate again. Sure enough, the queue area was blocked off with a sign announcing its retirement due to the "ride manufactures" inability to produce parts for the ride. One wonders whether the person responsible for proof reading this sign was similarly retired...
I'd somehow failed to read my old trip report before entering the park today, which is probably why it once again took an eternity to locate the entrance to Diamond Back. Similarly, I'd forgotten just how brutally rough this ride is. My girlfriend is shorter than me, and got hit in the head by the side of the restraint. While I was clear of the restraint, my back took a horrible impact just as the train dropped off the platform into the loop. There was no way we'd have ridden more than once, but some of the locals seemed happy to, one going so far as to comment audibly that it was his favourite ride in the park; go figure.
After a quick ride on The Grand Centennial Ferris Wheel we headed for the only other attraction on our list today, namely the Quick Draw target shooting dark ride. We were greeted by an animatronic sheriff with a stage Italian accent and a ridiculous moustache, who ordered us to chase down some bandits. I managed to build up a huge lead at the start, but my girlfriend fought back valiantly and came within twenty points of my score by the end of the ride. I'm not particularly good at target shooting rides, so it was nice to enjoy a rare victory!