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Cypress Gardens Closing...


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^ Make sure you guys do Photo TR's as it will be some of the last ever!!!

 

Also, if they have announced to the locals that the rides are closing after those days you may find some crowds that turn up to take one last ride.

 

--Robb

 

This time of year, you mostly will find the blue hairs out and about in the park..The snowbirds are in FULL swing, and they love to hang out in the gardens in large slow moving groups...LOL

 

I am sad on one hand, but again, saw it coming. I was there for there $5 special back in Sept, and while it was slow, it looked like they had been trying to get it fixed up. The employees were polite, and the rides were all walk ons. It was also a school day, so that might have made the difference. Will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of weeks over there.

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my wife and i made it a point to go to the gardens last november when we were visiting family for thanksgiving. something told me that if i wanted to see this park as it stood then i should make the effort. while the old part of the park was very nice, the ride section reminded me more of a carnival set up in a mall parking lot than a amusement park. it was clean and well staffed but a little odd in its position. i know that there is restrictions put on developing the original gardens. i think that the state actually has a steak in this park so this section most likely would not be closed unless approved by the state. that said i wonder if the current "owners" will also be shutting down the island in the sky tower? It is in the original area of the park and most likely considered one of the parks historic attraction. also I really hope that they try to find a new owner for the wooden coasters. I would be a shame to loose these two rides after loosing so many others in the past year.

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my wife and i made it a point to go to the gardens last november when we were visiting family for thanksgiving. something told me that if i wanted to see this park as it stood then i should make the effort. while the old part of the park was very nice, the ride section reminded me more of a carnival set up in a mall parking lot than a amusement park. it was clean and well staffed but a little odd in its position. i know that there is restrictions put on developing the original gardens. i think that the state actually has a steak in this park so this section most likely would not be closed unless approved by the state. that said i wonder if the current "owners" will also be shutting down the island in the sky tower? It is in the original area of the park and most likely considered one of the parks historic attraction. also I really hope that they try to find a new owner for the wooden coasters. I would be a shame to loose these two rides after loosing so many others in the past year.

I really hope they keep the tower. That thing is awesome. I wonder if they could just keep starliner and the tower... Those are the only rides that are really all that important and all.

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Well since they stayed open for decades as just a gardens and water ski attraction I guess they have a chance, although that kind of stuff just doesn't sell anymore. Personally I also consider myself a vintage roadside attractions enthusiast so I think its cool they're going back to their roots.

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You know...the Starliner would fit perfectly at Old Town in the spot where the Dragsters once were....

 

(Old Town...are you listening?)

 

Then again, I'm convinced that ride is cursed. And as cheesy as Old Town is, I kind of like the quirky feel of that park. I won't miss Cypress Gardens, but I'd miss wandering through Old Town fearing for my life from the Kissimmee locals!

 

--Robb

 

I like Old Town, too. I just wonder if they would have the room for Starliner, though it would be a great addition.

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Well since they stayed open for decades as just a gardens and water ski attraction I guess they have a chance, although that kind of stuff just doesn't sell anymore. Personally I also consider myself a vintage roadside attractions enthusiast so I think its cool they're going back to their roots.

 

This is a lot like how I feel. I'm actually pretty happy to hear this news. Ever since the mid 90's when Busch sold it off, I feared that the park would lose it's identity, and it slowly did. The only "mistake" was that the place never found the correct owner. Each new owner that stepped in treated the place like it was suffering from a mid-life crisis. Adding a craptacular carnie-like atmosphere to the place was like your typical balding 40-something stocking up on Rogaine and buying a Harley. Sometimes you simply need to embrace what you really are and learn to succeed with what you're given. Sadly, the last few owners never learned how to do so.

 

In my opinion, if ownership would try and take a cue from Gilroy Gardens,(shameless plug for Larry) the place could really flourish. You can't tell me that there's a shortage of families in Central Florida who would appreciate having a nice mid-range priced family oriented park that they could spend the day at. There are a ton of bigger thrills to be found in the region, so why not carve out your own niche? It's not like the park doesn't have a beautiful foundation, along with a rich history to work with.

 

And as said, the park has been "in trouble" since 1971, yet hasn't been bulldozed yet. In many ways, it's like a torchbearer for small parks everywhere. If it can exist where it has for so long, then anything's possible. I'm not sure an expanded water park is the perfect solution, but I'm keeping hope alive. I sure wish the Herschend's would have put this place in their portfolio.

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Dang, now I wanna KICK myself for missing out on the last $5 day (which was just this past Sunday, November 9th).

 

I went late last year when they did that "if U have an annual pass to any other park in Florida, its free" promo...and for what its worth, we had a blast. Its one of the few places my 3 year old daughter (at the time) can ride rollercoasters that are a little less "baby" (I think the height requirement for almost all coasters was 36"). Doing re-rides all day to the point of getting nauseous was a great experience for us!

 

The food near the ride area left a lot to be desired (their popcorn was part of what made me a bit nauceous), but riding those rides without having to do a lot of "baby swapping" was great.

 

Would love to hit it this last weekend....

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^ Especially considering that it originally closed when it was a simple Garden Park. They should have sold it to the state a long time ago when they had a chance and made it a simple Florida state park.

 

Erik - I just read an article that stated the garden area is actually owned by Polk County and the Cypress Gardens owners only serve as caretakers for that portion.

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Dammit.

 

I missed the Starliner at Miracle Strip by ONE WEEKEND. The park closed for good the weekend before I got there.

 

I missed it at Cypress Gardens by one season. Just a couple months after I visited it, they announced that Starliner would be the next season's new ride.

 

...and now it's closed.

It wasn't really a "destination park" but I had a good time there.

 

Maximum suckage.

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lol I think I'm the only one that may bummed out by CG closing, but that's because the last time I was there it was the mid 70's, and all I can remember was the glass-bottom boats. It's weird; the palce is more well known than WeekiWatchee was, buit WatchMeWinkie is the only place I really remember, aside from the Mouse. Odd.

 

I

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  • 4 months later...

CP opens up tomorrow, Rides still being removed. Is anyone going? I wanna see a trip report of how the park changed....and sad I might not ever get the Starliner credit.

 

WINTER HAVEN - Somewhere, Cypress Gardens founder Dick Pope Sr. is smiling. Once more, flowers are blooming, skiers are performing and Southern Belles are strolling in the attraction he opened in 1936.

Related Links:

 

* Cypress Gardens

* Baker Leisure Group

* Land South Holdings

* Cypress Gardens

* Water park will open with improvements yet to come

 

External Links:

 

* Cypress Gardens

 

More Photos:

 

* Cypress Gardens Media Tour

 

Cypress Gardens - and Splash Island Water Park - will reopen 10 a.m. Saturday with a return to traditions of the past after a nearly four-month hiatus.

 

"I'm excited," General Manager Bill Sims said during a media tour of the attraction Thursday. "It's my goal to get our water park and gardens back to something Dick Pope Sr. can be proud of."

 

Sims worked at Cypress Gardens from 1970 to 1985 and learned much of what he knows about the attraction industry directly from Pope. Sims has led management teams at Silver Springs and Weeki Wachee Springs in Spring Hill. He was hired about a month ago manage Cypress Gardens. The attraction's new marketing and sales director will be announced today.

 

Sims told media representatives Thursday that Cypress Gardens is still a work in progress. Rides are still being removed to make way for a parking lot on the north end of the park, boats need repairing and structures renovated. But more than 200 employees are working, upgrades continue and excitement is increasing.

 

The entrance to Cypress Gardens, which is now separate from that of Splash Island, has been returned to its original location. Eventually, the circular parking lot once located in front of this entrance also will be restored. But until this restoration is completed, visitors will park in the south parking lot and take a bus to the gate. Parking is free.

 

Hanging baskets of colorful plants line the open-air walkway leading into park. Passing through the air-conditioned entrance, one may linger and peruse the citrus and sweet offerings of Davidson of Dundee - a local business that had a retail space in Cypress Gardens years ago - and libations of Florida Tropical Wines before heading to the ticket booths.

 

Admission to Cypress Gardens is $12.95 for adults and $9.95 for children and seniors. An annual pass for Cypress Gardens costs $39.95. A combined annual pass that includes Cypress Gardens and Splash Island Water Park is available for $69.95. These prices are 40 percent lower than they were in mid-November, when Gardens owners Rob Harper and Brian Philpot surprised the community by announcing the park's closing for renovations.

 

Cypress Gardens will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday year-round.

 

The refurbished amphitheater is ready for spectators to sit and rest their feet while they experience the thrills and grace of professional water skiers who will present shows at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Sims said more ski shows will be scheduled as park attendance increases.

 

"We're trying to get this thing back on track," said Don Buffa, who is not only a former Cypress Gardens skier but also produced the ski shows during the last four years the park was open before closing in November.

 

Buffa said a new show featuring current popular music will be presented Saturday. For those curious about the skiers, biographies are posted along the wall in the ski area. There are 45 skiers on staff with 11 performing per show. Visitors will find several second-generation Cypress Gardens skiers among them.

 

Ski tournaments are in the works and these will be announced at a later date.

 

Turning right on the path just before the amphitheater will take one by the electric boat dock - which won't be open on Saturday but is expected to be operational as soon as the boats are refurbished - and into the original botanical gardens.

 

Here, according to guest services representative Doug High, is where numerous commercials, including those for Timex and Burma Shave, and several films were made in the past.

 

"We're going to get back in that business," Sims said.

 

Sims described the botanical gardens as being in "excellent condition."

 

"We've planted 60,000 new annuals," he said. "I'm very proud of what the staff has done.

 

"You're going to see color. You're going to see beauty," Sims added.

 

A ribbon of brilliant red and yellow flowers lead to the gazebo, which served as a popular wedding location and the set for the "Days of Discovery" gospel music television show that once aired on Sunday mornings. Sims has mentioned the possibility of hosting another inspirational show in the future.

 

The gazebo, Southern Plantation and an area of the lakefront are now available for weddings.

 

Turning left at the amphitheater takes one past the waterfall into the topiary gardens, a whimsical collection of 14 blooming creations - including a strutting peacock, a moss-draped swan, a bright red lady bug and a large Easter basket.

 

Here one is likely to find a Southern Belle or two reclining in the shade among the topiaries or walking along the path, just as they did in days past.

 

"These Belles have been the most photographed ladies in the world," Sims said.

 

The former Jubilee Junction, now called Southern Crossroads, is located just beyond the topiary garden. While not open on a regular basis, special events such as wine and cheese festivals and farmers markets will be held here on the weekends from October through April.

 

Island in the Sky, the revolving ride that offered a panoramic view of Winter Haven, will not be open this week nor in the foreseeable future.

 

"Reconditioning is needed," Sims said. "It's on my list but not real high."

 

Work is being done in the concert venue and Sims said performances will begin this summer.

 

"In the next two months, I'll have a major announcement about the concert facility," he said, adding that he is in negotiations for a something that "is major for the entire county and the Central Florida region."

 

Visitors who attend Saturday's reopening will be asked to complete and return a survey about their experience.

 

"We need our customers to help us improve. We will make improvements daily and weekly," Sims said.

 

http://www.newschief.com/article/20090327/NEWS/903275021/1024/ENTERTAINMENT?Title=Cypress-Gardens-new-day-at-hand

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