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This SuperSUCKS! Cypress Gardens closing its doors this sunday

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Man I wonder what will happen to that tiki..


Oh no! Just a couple of weeks ago, I saw Cypress Gardens in the movie "This is Cinerama," which played in true three-reel form in our restored Cinerama theater here in Seattle. The footage was fantastic, oversaturated colors, cute 50's girls in southern belle costumes, really over-the-top. It's a shame it's having to close, though not totally surprising.

Rain posted on Fri, Apr 11, 2003 10:27 AM

i'm pretty surprised that place stayed open this long. we went last year for a friend's birthday (he's into old florida stuff), and it was like being in a twilight zone episode directed by terry gilliam -- hundreds of geriatrics, 2 Elvis impersonators, and really awful canned music. we did have fun -- it was just a very surreal kind of fun.

i don't remember tikis there at all, but they did have a HUGE (probably about 18ft) seated buddha statue.

My childhood is linked to the memories of growing up in North/Central Florida...the closing of CG is depressing! It was the part of my lexicon of great Fl places, linked to Tiki Gardens, Busch Gardens and early Disney World.

Now just another memory...I would love to buy a peice of property in what ever develoment they have planned there and strut around in Antebellum Garb all day just to keep it alive.

Mambo posted on Sat, Apr 12, 2003 6:15 AM

so sad...


I'm forwarding this from the Society for Commercial Archeology mailing list:

Dear SCA Members,

On Sunday, Cypress Gardens (dating from 1936) closed. This is a tremendous loss as it is considered to be Florida's first real themed attraction. The site is threatened with development as the land is worth millions. There is a growing movement to preserve the original 37 acre botanical gardens.

Cypress Gardens is perhaps best known for its elaborate water skiing shows, but Elvis Presley and Esther Williams made appearances at the park and several movies have been filmed among the lush tropical foliage. The attraction reached its peak of popularity in the 1950s and 1960s.

A special meeting of state and local leaders has been set for Thursday in Winter Haven to discuss the State of Florida acquiring a portion, if not all of the property due to public pressure. Fortunately, Gov. Bush has also gotten involved.

Please log on to http://www.winterhavenfl.com and click on "Save Cypress Gardens" and sign the email petition.

Thanking you in advance,

Carrie Scupholm
SCA Secretary

There's an audio blurb about Cypress Gardens on NPR this week. Here's the link:



Someone has expressed interest in purchasing and saving Cypress Gardens. Here's a press release from http://www.savethegardens.com

May 29 , 2003 10:00 am EST Wild Adventures CEO Details Vision for Cypress Gardens

Also Announces Plans to Honor Passes at Valdosta Park

Valdosta, GA - In a press conference held today at the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, Wild Adventures President and CEO, Kent Buescher, drew a picture of his vision for Cypress Gardens. Prior to detailing his plans, Buescher gave those in attendance a synopsis of his career and the parallels that he shares with Cypress Garden's founder, Dick Pope, Sr.

Buescher then detailed the history of Wild Adventures, including it's conception, building and growth. He then clarified that he understood the differences between Wild Adventures and the future of Cypress Gardens.

"I understand that Cypress Gardens is located in a much more competitive market occupied by the giants of the theme park world and that Cypress Garden's most recent market was significantly comprised of a senior clientele. The plans, the vision that I am announcing today incorporates those realities. My vision for Cypress Gardens is a vision that celebrates Florida and its rich history."

Buescher stated that his company would enhance and preserve the gardens in perpetuity. They would make the ski show a relevant centerpiece of the park's entertainment options, while adding many new ones that would appeal to the entire spectrum of Cypress Garden's guests. A new animal collection representing Florida's vast wildlife will be an additional attraction. Animal keepers on duty during the park's operating hours will be present to answer questions and educate the park's guests. The park's buildings will be completely renovated to restore their former glory. A new entrance and parking lot to provide the necessary drive-up curb appeal will be completed. A section of carefully chosen amusement rides will be incorporated in a manner that invokes the nostalgia of an old-fashioned Florida boardwalk. Some of the existing retail space and the famed Snively Mansion will be utilized to incorporate historical displays, including a celebration of Dick Pope's life and career. A complete water park will be added as well.

"It's interesting to note that some of the most famous attractions of Cypress Gardens have been its pools. The Florida Pool is undeniably one of the most famous pools in American history as was the Aquarama Pool, complete with its high dives, built especially for the Queen of water, Esther Williams. Our water park will celebrate that history."

In order for this vision to unfold, Wild Adventures must first acquire the park from its present owners. Buescher has met with Florida officials and fundamentally agreed with the state's plan to purchase an environmental easement that will forever preserve the botanical gardens, ski show area and other historical structures.

"I have been amazed at the interest that Florida's governor, Jeb Bush, and state officials have in preserving Cypress Gardens and making it a viable, perpetual entity. I hope that we will be able to partner with the state in accomplishing that goal."

To achieve that end, the state must approve the use of Florida Forever funds for this purpose. The state will undertake an effort to appraise the property to determine its value and their level of participation. Assuming that this process is completed and Wild Adventures can reach an agreeable purchase price with the current owners, Wild Adventures hopes to take possession, complete a revitalization of the existing structures and construct a new entrance and parking area in time for an October opening. It is anticipated that the ride and water park area would be completed by the summer of 2004. Buescher announced that his company would spend $30-million dollars to make the necessary enhancements and additions to the gardens during its first 12 months of ownership.

Finally, Buescher discussed Wild Adventures' plan to honor valid 2003 passes held by Cypress Gardens passholders. "Effective immediately, Cypress Gardens passholders will be given a free Passport 2003 valid for unlimited admissions to Wild Adventures Super Park throughout 2003. To obtain this free pass, Cypress Garden's passholders will only need to present their valid 2003 pass and a picture ID at Wild Adventures' Will Call window. Furthermore, if our plan to purchase Cypress Gardens is successful, a pass will be created allowing unlimited admission to both parks."


Today on TCM they're showing Easy To Love (1953) starring Esther Williams and filmed in Cypress Gardens. It starts at 5:30PM ET (2:30 PT).


I received this in an email today from the Winterhaven Chamber of Commerce:

A grateful community thanks the citizens of Polk County,
people of Florida and others throughout the world
whose love of Cypress Gardens and
willingness to express that love
has led to its preservation.

Cypress Gardens will soon bloom again.

Special thanks to
Governor Jeb Bush and Cabinet
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The Trust for Public Land
The Polk County Legislative Delegation
The Polk County Commission
The City of Winter Haven
Mr. Kent Buescher

How about that jacket?! Do I see tikis on it?

This is the best "I" could do with the quality of the photo.
I think your right Jab.
Imagine finding this baby on Ebay.


yes, folks

it looks like Cypress Gardens escaped the wrecking ball and will be coming back in full effect.. I'm pretty excited about it, as I really wanted my new boy to be able to go there and uncover the tiki and see the Water-Ski Shows.

It was purchased by a Georgia theme park owner, who is going to put about $35mill into renovations- he's going to add some roller coasters, more rides, etc which some people arent happy about- but I'll say this much: the last time I was there, just prior to its closing, it was looking sad. The animal areas were like a PETA nightmare- it seemed they hadnt been updated since the 60's. Now thats good for things like botanical garden design (read: tikiness) but I'm not one for 60's era animal enclosure nostalgia.

The gardens are on one end of the park- the "theme" stuff on the other, with the ski-lake in between. So I could TOTALLY see the theme side having major improvements whilst retaining every bit of charm of the gardens.

I, for one, am STOKED.


Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2004

State signs off on plan to save Cypress Gardens

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet voted today to contribute $11 million toward a deal that will let a Georgia theme park owner take over Cypress Gardens, one of Florida’s oldest tourist attractions.

Under the arrangement, the Trust for Public Land will exercise its option to buy the 150 acres that make up Cypress Gardens, located just outside Winter Haven. The park, which is known for its botanical gardens, water ski shows and Southern belles in hoop skirts and parasols, closed last April after 67 years in operation.

Kent Buescher, who owns Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Ga., will then buy 130 acres for $7 million and Polk County will buy the historic 30-acre core of the park for $2.5 million.

The deal, which the trust brokered, required an $11 million conservation easement from the state.

“Only in Florida would this be a cultural resource perhaps,” Bush said before the unanimous vote. “But that’s what distinguishes us. We live in paradise and everybody else doesn’t. So I don’t feel bad about that at all.”

The park could reopen as soon as Memorial Day weekend, said Sara Sumner, a spokeswoman for Wild Adventures.

The new owner plans to invest $35 million over the next 18 months to refurbish the gardens, buildings and construct a new entrance. Buescher also plans to add some roller coasters, bring back the ski shows and schedule concerts.


Pics from my tour thru Cypress Gardens (and some other FL Gardens too) just prior to the closing..



I was just looking at the website for the newly revamped Cypress Gardens...
Not only did the theme park reopen. It has added a Polynesian Themed Water Park...
Here is the info from Cypress Garden's Website...

It’s H2Official! Gallons of refreshing fun will flow at the all-new Splash Island in Cypress Gardens with its Grand Opening Saturday, March 11. Be one of the first to lazily float down the crystal clear waters of “Paradise River” or conquer the four stories of “Polynesian Adventure’s” numerous platforms, slides, water cannons and blast buckets. Then, get set for a tubing adventure on the “Tonga Tubes,” the twin-slide complex. Hang ten on “Kowabunga Bay,” the 20,000 square-foot wave pool or take a lightning-fast adventure on the speed slides of “Voodoo Plunge.” Smaller fishes will enjoy the gentle water fun of the “Tikki Garden.” In keeping with Cypress Gardens Adventure Park’s retro-Florida theming, the park features a Polynesian atmosphere, hearkening back to the days of tikki bars and surfboards. Splash Island will also include several restaurants and snack stands, such as “Volcano Jim’s Snack Shack and Tikki Bar,” which will dish up delectable snacks and drinks. The “Kahuna Bathhouse” is the changing and shower area, complete with locker rentals. Complimentary life vests are also available.


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