The main reason Barbara McHuron said she bought Six Flags season tickets for her extended family was because the passes were good for both Discovery Kingdom and Waterworld.
She was less than happy to learn last week that they're not.
Six Flags officials have refunded the Concord teacher's money, and a spokeswoman said anyone who bought season passes unaware they no longer apply to both parks, will be dealt with fairly.
McHuron said she was led to believe the nine passes she bought for $69.99 each as Christmas gifts, would be honored at both Discovery Kingdom - the Vallejo theme park formerly known as Marine World - and at Concord's Waterworld USA park. In fact, she said, the Web site where she bought the tickets indicated they would be honored. As of Wednesday, Waterworld's recorded message still suggested that the parks are connected, and its Web site still carries the "Six Flags Waterworld Concord" logo.
"I am sure there are others (who think their season passes are good for both parks)," McHuron said.
Though linked since 2000, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Waterworld's bond was severed with the parent company's decision last month to sell its Northern California water parks. The break was among several profit-boosting changes the company made, park officials said at the time. Six Flags season passes are still good at Six Flags parks nationwide, said spokeswoman Nancy Chan.
Chan said she doesn't know how many season passes may have been bought before the water parks' sale was announced last month.
McHuron said Six Flags and Waterworld officials are not doing enough to publicize the split.
Chan points to the company's Web site which notes the changes, including the Waterworld sale, but concedes that some people may have bought season passes without noticing they're no longer accepted at Northern California water parks. Six Flags officials will find ways to compensate customers who complain, Chan said.
McHuron was refunded her season pass money so she could buy Waterworld passes. She was also given two free Discovery Kingdom tickets for each person, and said she considers the matter resolved.
"The woman at Marine World said words you seldom hear," McHuron said. "She said, 'We want to do the right thing.' How often do you hear that?"
Not necessarily, Chan replied, when asked if anyone complaining would get the same compensation.
"There has been some miscommunication, and if we come across it, we'll deal with it on a case-by-case basis," she said.
Waterworld season passes cost $39.99. Discovery Kingdom tickets are $49.99, so a season pass still pays for itself in fewer than two visits, Chan said.
We understand the language on the actual ticket they received may be misleading," Chan said. "We are working on addressing this immediately, and if there has been any confusion for other purchasers, we would be happy to refund the season pass for any buyer who comes to us before the season opens in March."
"We have a lot of great new shows and attractions this year - a better-than-ever entertainment value for the whole family. We will be making an announcement in the coming weeks of new offerings this year, as well as our holiday events that will add to the value of the season pass," she said. "Plus, we have an extended season this year."
Six Flags' corporate changes upset some customers last year, when it was decided to postpone Marine World's highly touted extended season until 2007.
Though officials had announced extending the 2006 season to January, they chose instead to concentrate on "enhancing the park experience," former Marine World spokesman Paul Garcia said at the time.
Six Flags guest services department can be reached at (707) 556-5551. E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at [email protected]
or call 553-6824.