Cypress Gardens opened on January 2, 1936 as a botanical garden planted by Dick and Julie Pope. Over the years, it became one of the biggest attractions in Florida, known for its water ski shows, lush gardens, and Southern Belle models.
It became known as the “Water Ski Capital of the World” because many of the sport’s landmark “firsts” and over 50 world records were broken there. Numerous movies have been filmed at the park, including portions of “This is Cinerama,” the first feature filmed in that wide-screen format, and a string of Esther Williams films and TV specials in the 1950s and 1960s. With their addition of a custom photography boat named Miss Cover Girl in the early 1960s, the park became a popular site for the filming of television commercials.
Competition for guests increased after Walt Disney World Resort opened nearby in 1971. In the early 1980s, the Popes retired and transferred the park to their son, Dick Pope Jr.
In the 1980s book publisher Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich purchased the park along with SeaWorld, Circus World (later rebuilt as Boardwalk & Baseball) and Stars Hall of Fame, but sold most of the businesses to Anheuser-Busch in 1989. Busch continued to operate Cypress Gardens until April 1, 1995, when a group of the park’s managers led by Bill Reynolds bought the property.
Under President and CEO Reynolds, the park operated until April 13, 2003, when it closed after a prolonged tourism decline following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. A grass-roots effort to reopen the site soon materialized against plans to develop the property into condominiums.
On February 22, 2004, Adventure Parks Group, owned by Kent Buescher, purchased the property and renamed it Cypress Gardens Adventure Park. The purchase of the amusement park portion of the Cypress Gardens property was part of a larger conservation transaction. In that transaction, the entire 150-acre (0.61 km2) site was purchased from its previous owner, First Gardens, L.C., by The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization (TPL). TPL then sold a conservation easement over the entire property to the state of Florida, while Polk County purchased the 30 acre gardens portion of the property, less the development rights conveyed in the state easement. And finally, Adventure Parks Group purchased the balance of the property, also subject to the conservation easement.
Buescher’s plan to reopen the park in September 2004 was delayed by damages created by hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne. Cypress Gardens Adventure Park finally opened in November 2004. One of its new attractions, the Triple Hurricane roller coaster, was named for the tumultuous storm season. The adjacent Splash Island water park opened in 2005, along with the Galaxy Spin roller coaster.
In September 2006, Adventure Parks Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the Florida site following approximately $30 million in damages sustained by the 2004 hurricanes.
Land South Adventures, a subsidiary of Mulberry, Florida-based Land South Holdings, purchased Cypress Gardens at a bankruptcy auction on October 16, 2007 for $16.9 million, leaving Buescher as interim manager until Baker Leisure Group of Orlando, Florida took over park operations in January 2008.
Many celebrities and dignitaries have skied and visited at the park, including Elvis Presley, Jordan’s former King Hussein and his son and successor, King Abdullah II. It was also the site of a Johnny Carson special.
|Kenmerkend||Ouderwetse kleding, paard-en-wagen|
|Ligging||Winter Haven, Florida|
|Toegangsprijs||Bejaarden (60+): $34.95
Volwassenen (10-59 jaar): $39.95
Kinderen (3-9): $ 34.95
|Openingstijden||10.00 am – 10.00 pm|