Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco says it has become the victim of mistaken identity after receiving a torrent of angry phone calls, emails, tweets and Facebook posts about an alleged bullying incident at a similarly named water park in Texas.

Park spokesman Ed Hodgdon said Funtown Splashtown began receiving messages late Friday from irate customers vowing never to bring their families again to the popular amusement destination, and telling the park’s employees they should be ashamed of themselves. The angry messages had not ceased as of Sunday afternoon.

After a bit of searching online, Hodgdon found a news report broadcast Thursday by a San Antonio TV station about an alleged incident in which a boy with autism was heckled by two teenage employees of Splashtown in San Antonio, a waterpark that Hodgdon said has no relation to the park in Saco.

The news report, by San Antonio’s KENS 5 Eyewitness News, said 11-year-old Dylan Dean was about to go down a water slide when two waterpark employees began laughing, pointing at him and calling him fat. According to the report, Dean is autistic and has a medical condition that causes him to gain weight.

Then talk show host Ellen DeGeneres discussed the incident Friday on her show “Ellen.” Viewers everywhere began expressing their disappointment and disgust on Facebook and Twitter.

Unfortunately for Funtown Splashtown, many have misdirected their anger toward the Maine amusement park, Hodgdon said.

“They’re just seeing the word ‘Splashtown’ and that’s what they are fixating on,” he said.

The Saco amusement park was active on social media all weekend trying to clear its name. The company posted a message to its Facebook page explaining the mixup and trying to set the record straight.

“Some of our fans are confusing Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco, Maine with Splashtown San Antonio,” the Facebook post reads. “Funtown Splashtown USA would NEVER condone our team members to ridicule, tease or bully ANY guest.”

For its part, the other Splashtown in Texas posted to its Facebook page that the alleged bullying incident never happened.

“We interviewed both lifeguards separately, and found there is no collaborating (sic) evidence to support they made fun of or berated Dylan,” the post reads. “The one guard in charge of the Kiddie Pool area blew into his whistle and made hand gestures to advise Dylan he was too tall for this particular slide. They were concerned for his safety.”

That explanation did not sit well with viewers of the “Ellen” show, who continued to berate the Texas park and its unrelated namesake in Maine.

“Shame on you for allowing your employees to be bullies … especially to special-needs kids,” one woman wrote to Funtown Splashtown on Facebook. “I will never bring any of my family there.”

 


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