(April 30, 2021) Bucking a barrage of rumors on social media, the new manager of West Ocean City’s Frontier Town says the Old West experience that patrons have grown to love over the past 60-plus years is here to stay.
“The local public is used to coming and seeing these things year after year and experiencing this,” said Dean Geracinos, the chief operating officer of site manager Blue Water Development, of the park attractions.
“For people that stay in the campground, there is absolutely no change whatsoever … Our characters are going to be roaming the streets in elaborate western costumes, immersing them in the nuance, giving them the experience.”
Geracinos’ explanation come in response to recent Facebook chatter that claimed Blue Water, which took over management of the park and campground from Sun RV Resorts on April 1, planned to eliminate many of the Wild West-style themes and attractions.
“Social media has an arm of its own. We’re just trying to get the word out that, frankly, 95 percent of what’s out there about the canceling of the shows or anything is absolutely — I guess you could say quote — ‘fake news,’” Geracinos said. “It’s just the opposite, we are enhancing the experience.”
The “enhancements,” as Geracinos put them, include upgraded themes courtesy of a new hire brought in from Dollywood, redesigning some of the attractions — which are all free to the public now, and updating the food and beverage options.
“When Blue Water takes over a property, we like to identify the issues of the guests …,” he said. “The two biggest ones are being on one side of the park and not being able to get food and beverages … [and] tremendous lines at the water park and not being able to get food.”
Ben Elliott, the general manager of Frontier Town, reiterated Geracinos’ comments.
“It’s going to be an enhancement to what we’d done before,” he said.
Both Geracinos and Elliott assured that when the Frontier Town Western Theme Park opens Memorial Day weekend — which is earlier than the regular Father’s Day weekend opening — outlaws will still attempt to rob the bank while marshals and deputies try to stop them. Twice a day, a Native American performance will take place in the village, and the train will run around the park hauling gold.
Simulated gun fights will still occur, but the shows will be upgraded to include trick riding, trick shooting and trick roping courtesy of the professional Texas Trick Riders.
Elliott said the hiring of the riders may have fueled some of the rumors, as they will replace some regular seasonal cast members. However, he said the park will still have 15 to 20 characters roaming the streets, along with the employees in the Native American village.
The rumored changes also included a claim that the park would no longer have livestock, which Elliott cleared up as well.
“Some of the livestock owned by Sun [RV Resorts] is no longer on the property but we still have a total of four horses, two ponies and a miniature donkey on site,” he said.
He added that the Texas Trick Riders are bringing in their own trained horses and livestock, including the buffalo from Paramount’s “Yellowstone.”
The only attraction that is not returning, Geracinos said, is the can-can show.
“In today’s environment we thought it wouldn’t be the right thing to do, we are no longer going to have can-can girls,” Geracinos said. “But there will obviously be a female western presence throughout the shows and throughout the town.”
The water park, which did not open last year because of covid, is also set to reopen this year with proper safety protocols in place.
In total, Frontier Town will employ 326 people, Geracinos said.
And while he acknowledged some of the same staffing challenges that other local businesses are struggling with, he said Frontier Town is in a better position because of how many people want to work there and get the experience.
“We get more applicants here than any other properties,” he said.
Blue Water owns and manages an array of properties from Maine to Florida. Locally, the company manages Fort Whaley RV Resort and Campground in Whaleyville and owns and operates the oceanfront Commander Hotel in Ocean City.
At Frontier Town, Blue Water took over an age-old operation that founders Bill Patton and Bill Pacey built in 1959. The Wild West theme derived from the popularity of Western movies at the time. In 1963 the campground opened and has expanded to more than 600 sites.
In the 1970s, the water park was added, followed by a number of expansions and enhancements over the years. Today, Frontier Town’s attractions include the water park, a mini golf course, the Western Theme Park, an adventure park, an arcade, and a “JAWS” exhibit.