(Aug. 30, 2019) This is the last weekend the Western Theme Park, which is celebrating 60 years at Frontier Town RV Resort and Campground in Berlin, will be open for the season.
Built in 1959 by Bill Patten and Bill Pacey, the park was created during an era where people were obsessed with Western movies.
Frontier Town expanded within five years of service, with the campground opening in 1963, and has grown to nearly 600 campsites.
“[The owners] saw the Wild Westerns that they used to play in Baltimore and the movie theaters and then these guys decided to come out here and make it real life,” Frontier Town General Manager Carrie Coster said.
The water park was constructed in the 1970s in more than 200 acre-wide complex.
Much of the original campground was destroyed by a Nor’easter storm in 1992. Reconstruction to the site was completed within a year.
In 1995, Trailer Life Magazine voted Frontier Town one of the top six family campgrounds in the United States.
In the last couple years, Pony Island Arcade & Gifts and Pony Espresso and Creamery opened in Frontier Town and a new activity pool with a stagecoach slide in the center was added.
In addition, the Lazy River opened and two water flumes were added. The pavilion was also expanded.
Fort Whaley Campground in Whaleyville, was acquired in the late 1990s. The campground is 15 miles from Ocean City and offers nearly 200 campsites.
The Poolside Grill was added to Frontier Town in 2004 and the Poolside Bar in 2011.
The High Ropes Adventure Park and Zip Lines were installed in 2013. And, effective July 31, 2015, Frontier Town was purchased by Sun Communities.
Two events stand out the most at the Western Theme Park – the staged gun shows and the Can-Can dances, according to Entertainment Manager Shane Karson.
“The [gunfight at OK Corral] is one of the original shows they had, written by Guy Frederick,” Karson said. “We use the same script that we did [in the beginning]. This gunfight has been here the entire time.”
Each day the park opens with the raising of the flag and a cattle drive. There are more than 40 different animals ranging from longhorn oxen, cows, horses, goats and chickens on the property. While some are on loan during the summer season, several remain within the park all year.
Millions of people will come to Frontier Town every year, with as many as 40,000 people in one day, Coster said.
“We get a lot of families, which is nice, and kids that come back year after year to work,” she said.
When the park first opened in 1960, there were around 70 cowhands, actors, Native American dancers, rodeo riders and Can-Can dancers. Now, during the height of the season, which is around July 4, the park employs around 300.
“It’s a great tradition,” Coster said. “Many, many memories are made here.”
“We’ve got people that come back every year, just to see the actors,” Karson said.
The park also hosts several activities and events during the offseason, including Pooch Palooza in April, where dog lovers can bring their pets to the park for a day of fun. Outside of Pooch Palooza, however, people are not allowed to bring their pets to Frontier Town.
The town is also dressed up for Halloween. The coal-running steam train gets a haunted makeover for the Halloween Trail that is, apparently, very effective at scaring people.
“When Halloween comes around, we turn the train station into a big haunted mansion,” Karson said. “A few kids come out crying.”
The park also hosts weddings, festivals and some conferences.
“It’s just a great family atmosphere. It’s something that everybody has to visit one day in their life,” Coster said.
The Western Theme Park will be closed for the season after Labor Day and will reopen next year around the second week of June. The mini golf and the rope course will be open until the end of October. The waterpark will also close after Labor Day weekend for renovations.
For more information about Frontier Town, visit campground.frontiertown.com or call 410-641-0880.
Frontier Town schedule
Western Theme Park:
10 a.m. – Gates open on Main Street
10:20 a.m. – Flag raising on Main Street
11 a.m. – The Great Western Stampede – Wild West Arena
11:45 a.m. – Native American Dancing at the Native American Village
12:25 p.m. – Legend of Amos Cash on Main Street
12:55 p.m. – Can-Can Show at Golden Nugget Saloon
1:45 p.m. – Gunfight at OK Corral on Main Street
2:25 p.m. – Bank Holdup and Trial of Lopez on Main Street
3:15 p.m. – Native American Dancing at Native American Village
4:05 p.m. – Can-Can Show at Golden Nugget Saloon
4:45 p.m. – Jailbreak and Gun Demo on Main Street
5:20 p.m. – Gunfight at OK Corral on Main Street
6:00 p.m. – Gates close
* Every day until Labor Day
Water Park: Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from May 25 to Sept. 2
Mini Golf course: Open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. from May 25 to Sept. 2. In the spring and fall, open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.