Tickets to Frontier City will be the usual price this weekend, but until the park’s water supply passes state inspection, customers will be allowed to bring outside food and drink. "Guests can always get their hand stamped and leave to eat and come back,” Frontier City spokeswoman Andrea Pennock said. "But during this time period we are also letting them bring in outside food and drink, which we don’t normally allow.” Glass containers and alcoholic beverages are not allowed, Pennock said. Guests also can buy bottled water for $1 throughout the park, and free water is available from a cooler at the first aid station. Frontier City closed early on Thursday after harmful bacteria was found in the water supply used for drinking and preparing food. The amusement park reopened Friday afternoon under a "boil water notice,” which means it was not allowed to serve fountain drinks with ice or sell any food that had to be prepared on site. Because the boil order only affected water meant for consumption, the Mystery River Log Flume and the Renegade Rapids remained open and were not affected by the E. coli contamination.
E. coli dangersPeople who visited Frontier City and drank from the water fountains two weeks ago probably shouldn’t worry about getting sick from the bacteria, Oklahoma City-Oklahoma County Health Department workers said, because in most cases symptoms present themselves within 24 hours. As of 5 p.m. Friday, the Oklahoma City-Oklahoma County Health Department had no reports of anyone becoming ill from E. coli from drinking water at Frontier City or eating food there. Health department spokesman H.R. Holman said he hates to talk about specific symptoms that could be caused by E. coli since he’s not a doctor. But he said he would encourage anyone who visited the park Wednesday or Thursday to contact their doctor if they become nauseated or shows signs of severe stomach or digestive illness. State Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Skylar McElhaney said she did not know the extent of the contamination at Frontier City, because the water-quality tests administered twice a month only test for the absence or presence of the bacteria. "If E. coli is present, it does not matter how much is there. It could have an adverse health risk, and a boil order is necessary,” McElhaney said. Sometimes it is impossible to pinpoint a cause or origin of contamination, McElhaney said, but there are a number of things that can contribute to the presence of bacteria in a water supply, including a waterline break that causes loss of pressure, a weak spot in the water system, a failure in the water treatment process or even a sampling error that produces a false positive result.
Sanitizing the parkAlthough the state does not regulate private water wells, it does inspect privately owned wells that provide water to the general public like the wells at the 51-year-old theme park. Before the outbreak, McElhaney said, the state did not require a mechanical chlorination system at Frontier City. But now that E. coli has been found there, the system will be required to properly chlorinate and sanitize the entire water supply. After the chlorination system is installed, McElhaney said, DEQ workers will have to get eight test results from different locations in the park to show the water is clean once the chlorinator is working. Once that is done, which will likely not happen until Monday, the boil order will be lifted, and the park can resume food and drink concessions.