SACO — Dylan Dean waded tentatively into the pool of Pirates Paradise, his eyes locked on the nozzles spraying water around him. After a few minutes near the edge, he ran toward a cascade of water spilling from a large pirate head, a wide grin on his face.

This is the water park experience he waited all summer to have.

Dylan, an 11-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, spent Wednesday at Funtown Splashtown USA with his family. It was a trip planned just for him after he was reportedly bullied at a water park in Texas last month, an incident that gained national attention and caught the Saco amusement park in a social media firestorm when it was confused with the similarly named Splashtown of San Antonio.

After a Texas television station reported that Dylan, who is autistic and has a medical condition that causes him to gain weight, had been bullied by water park employees in San Antonio, the Maine park became the victim of mistaken identity, receiving angry phone calls, emails, tweets and Facebook posts about the incident.

Funtown Splashtown USA went into crisis management mode and was able to stop the negative attention by taking to social media to explain the mixup. When the dust settled, the park owners decided to fly the Dean family to Maine for a vacation and a visit to the Saco park.

“This trip has just been amazing,” said Tracy Dean, Dylan’s mother. “The love and support we’ve had since we’ve been here is amazing. … It restores my faith in humanity. There is beauty and grace still in this world.”

The Deans – including Dylan’s father, Darren, and his younger brothers Drew and Carson – hadn’t been to Maine before this week’s trip. Tracy Dean was surprised when the owners of Funtown Splashtown USA offered to fly the family to Maine and put them up in a hotel for a four-day vacation.

Violet Cormier, who owns the Saco park, said she was excited to bring the Deans to Maine after their negative experience at the Texas park, which is not affiliated with Funtown Splashtown USA.

“We thought we’d call them and invite them over,” she said. “We’re excited for this family to be here and we’re happy to give back.”

Cormier said Funtown Splashtown USA regularly welcomes guests with special needs and she is happy to provide a “special experience for these wonderful children.” The park plans to host an autism awareness day on Aug. 24.

Ed Hodgdon, marketing manager for Funtown, said the park is adding a page to its website to describe the type of sounds and lights on every ride to help guests with sensory issues plan their visits.

Other recreational businesses have accommodated children with autism and other sensory difficulties. The Maine Mall has offered visits with Santa during the holiday season, and the Cinemagic Grand at Clarks Pond in South Portland has held movie showings during which the theater lights stay on and the sound is turned down.

The water park bullying incident occurred June 29 when Tracy Dean brought her family to Splashtown in San Antonio for the day, according to an article in the San Antonio Express-News.

Dylan was in the kiddie pool area and getting ready to go down a slide when some Splashtown lifeguards blew their whistles and told Dylan he couldn’t go down the slide because of his size. They then allegedly laughed and called him “fat,” according to a friend of Tracy Dean who was accompanying Dylan.

Tracy Dean told the Texas newspaper that her son, who has Asperger’s syndrome, was in tears and on the verge of a meltdown after the incident. She and her family left the park.

“This a major setback in Dylan’s life,” she told the San Antonio newspaper.

Splashtown in San Antonio disputes Tracy Dean’s story. In a Facebook post, the park said it was “an unfortunate misunderstanding.” According to the San Antonio park, a lifeguard blew his whistle and made hand gestures to Dylan to advise him he was too tall for a slide.

Though more than a month has passed since the incident in San Antonio, Dylan is still sometimes upset by it, Tracy Dean said. He occasionally calls himself “fatty,” the name the family says he was called in Texas.

“He’s been smiling a lot this week,” Tracy Dean said. “Dylan loves it because it’s cool here. He doesn’t ever want to go back to San Antonio.”

Before visiting Funtown, the family went on a trolley tour of Saco and ate at DiMillo’s floating restaurant in Portland. Everywhere they went, people were friendly and welcoming, Tracy Dean said.

“It’s been amazing for my family after what we endured in San Antonio to be treated like this,” she said.

On Wednesday, Dylan said he wanted to go straight to the water park when the family arrived at Funtown. After checking a map for directions, Dylan led his family directly to Pirates Paradise, a multistory structure with climbing nets, water slides and water shooting from nozzles and buckets.

Dylan loves the water, his mother said, but he always takes his time to study what’s going on before going in. After a few minutes of splashing under water at the base of the structure, he disappeared up the stairs on his way to check out the water slides.

“For him to even go up there is a huge accomplishment,” Tracy Dean said.

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