Cypress Gardens has announced that the park will close for renovations, reopening in the spring. They plan on removing the ride and animals, while expanding the water park and gardens. It is unknown what will happen to many of these waymarks, several will be removed/relocated to other parks, but others might be lost forever. Here are the structures as they were on the last day of operation—November 16, 2008.
Cypress Gardens to eliminate rides and animals, expand water park
By Rick Rousos, Lakeland Ledger
In print: Tuesday, November 11, 2008
WINTER HAVEN — Cypress Gardens will close Monday and plans to reopen in March with an expanded water park but without its rides and animal attractions, company officials said.
The botanical gardens and the ski shows will stay.
Cypress Gardens owners said the park was trying to be too many things.
"It is obvious the park cannot successfully function as four parks in one. We have some exciting new plans that everyone will be thrilled to see come March," co-owner Rob Harper said in a statement Sunday night.
The move to expand the water park and to eliminate the 38 rides and animal exhibits came after what the owners say was months of exhaustive analysis.
Other improvements include adding a parking area and moving the main entrance back to where it was years ago. The new parking area will be much closer to the water park and gardens than the current one.
Cypress Gardens also will add a display featuring the history of the attraction.
The owners say the renovations come during a normally slow time of year and the park will reopen just before the peak of the tourism season. They say they are sorry for having to let employees go temporarily and for any inconvenience to guests and pass holders.
St Pete Times Article
With a history as deep as the roots Cypress Gardens was founded on more than 72 years ago, take a look into our storied past and learn the names and famous faces who have discovered the true charm of Florida’s first theme park.
Founded in 1936 by Dick and Julie Pope, Cypress Gardens was a showcase for Central Florida and paved the way for other parks such as Disney and Universal to follow. Under his guidance, the beautiful botanical gardens became the backdrop for beautiful belles and peaceful boat rides, as well as many movies and thousands of advertising campaigns over the years. Familiar Starlets who have walked our paths include: Betty Davis, Johnny Carson, Carol Burnett, Esther Williams and Elvis to name just a few. Proclaimed the Water Ski Capitol of the World, Cypress Gardens became the birthplace of performance water skiing in 1941. In 1962, Dick Pope turned the reins of the park over to his son, Dick Pope, Jr., and then committed himself to promoting tourism and the development of Florida.
The park left control of the Pope family in 1985 when it was acquired by HBJ/SW. Four years later, Busch Entertainment Corporation, a subsidiary of Anheuser Busch Companies, Inc. purchased the park and ran it until it was sold to a private partnership in 1995. The decision to close the park came in April of 2003 after a severe blow to the tourism industry on September 11, 2001.
Kent Buescher, owner of Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta, Ga. initially became interested in purchasing the Christmas displays for Wild Adventures, but was captured by a vision of Cypress Gardens’ potential. Working hand-in-hand with the state, local government and the Trust For Public Land, a historic deal was inked early in 2004 to save the venerable attraction with Buescher at the helm. His plans for the park were based upon the same simple formula that made Wild Adventures such a success; provide a great variety of affordable family fun that all ages can enjoy.
Work revitalizing and restoring the park began immediately but was almost derailed by the hurricane season of 2004. However, Kent Buescher and his staff persevered in the Pope tradition and Cypress Gardens Adventure Park was reborn in November of the same year. Now, guests will find an exhilarating world of thrilling rides, Splash Island water park, dazzling entertainment, historic gardens, animals, the famed Southern Belles and world-famous water ski show, as well as Jubilee Junction, an old-fashioned village chock-full of exceptional shopping and fabulous food. Approximately 1.4 million guests sampled the delights of the newly refurbished park in 2005, one of the highest attendance counts at Cypress Gardens in the history of the park and the trend continued into 2006.
In 2007 Land South Adventures, LLC, out of Mulberry, Florida purchased Cypress Gardens Adventure Park, however Kent Buescher, remained as the interim manager until Baker Leisure Group took over the management in January 2008. The Baker Leisure Group is an Orlando-based company and has been involved with more than 100 theme parks, attractions and related assignments around the world since the firm was founded in 1988 by 40-year theme park and attractions management specialist Steve Baker. The owners and cast of Cypress Gardens invite you to leave your cares behind as you step into the natural beauty of real Florida and discover something completely Unexpected!