The “Drench” dolphin show at Toyota Stadium, located at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, is seen in this 2016 photo. The animal encounter/amusement park is in talks to relocate to Fresno, according to sources.Photo by Jeremy Thompson on flickr.com
Written by Edward Smith
Negotiations are underway for a Six Flags amusement park to come to Fresno County despite fervent denial from City of Vallejo officials.
Sources confirm that talks have begun with the amusement park about the possibility of locating the tourist attraction to the area. Six Flags Marketing Manager Marc Merino said it is not their policy to comment on rumors.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo features both roller coasters and animal exhibits. It is also the city’s second largest employer prior to the pandemic, according to the “Vallejo Times-Herald.”
In 2015, the park employed 1,591 people, according to the “North Bay Business Journal.”
Vallejo City Manager Greg Nyhoff said park officials have assured him they aren’t going anywhere.
“I have heard this baseless rumor about the park leaving Vallejo, and according to park officials, it sounds as if there is absolutely no truth to this report, and the source who reported this is incorrect,” Nyhoff said in a statement.
A Vallejo City Council member and the mayor both spoke with the park manager, according to Nyhoff, and the manager informed them she had spoken with the corporate office who said there was no truth to the rumor.
The origin of the rumor began with a letter by a citizen to the “Vallejo Times-Herald” about dissatisfaction by Six Flags corporate with a nearby development of land at the Solano County Fairgrounds called the 360 project. The plan to develop the land began in 2009 and would have brought 2,500 permanent jobs, 5,700 temporary construction jobs and more than $500 million in new investment, according to Solano County documents.
Merino said he would not comment on development plans there.
As it stands now, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has more than 60 rides, shows and attractions, including 10 roller coasters on 135 acres, according to the “North Bay Business Journal.” It receives about 1.5 million visitors a year, the report by Solano County stated.
Lisa Oliveira, interim president for tourism marketing organization Visit Fresno County, said that kind of attraction makes her “salivate.”
Six Flags in Fresno would have a “huge impact” for Fresno County.
Road trippers often drive along the coast when traveling across the state, Oliveira said. But the addition of the amusement park to other draws such as the national parks as well as agricultural tourism adds incentive to bring those travelers through the Central Valley.
While the project could be years away from completion, it could go a long way toward Visit Fresno County’s goal to increase overnight guests.
Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer said there are a lot of rumors but could not discuss to what extent those might be true, but said “I am pursuing every avenue to bring Fresno forward as an entertainment community.”
Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi said an amusement park would need a great deal of land.
Parks are usually located near freeways. The height of roller coasters means special zoning for parks, but the city could be very competitive in attracting the park.
This won’t be the first time a major entertainment company has sought to develop in the Central Valley. Walt Disney had a vision to develop Mineral King in Sequoia National Forest into a ski resort with hotels and restaurants in the mid-1960s. But the project was bogged down by environmental lawsuits as well as the death of Walt Disney, who trumpeted the cause for the resort.
After the U.S. Department of the Interior came out against the project, Mineral King Valley was added to the National Parks system.
Fresno city officials, however, say they would work to bring a project like Six Flags to fruition — if, indeed, they get that shot.
“It’s very exciting and the City is doing everything they can to encourage companies like that to come to Fresno,” Karbassi said.