Cypress Gardens Closes

The turnstiles have stopped spinning at a historic theme park in Winter Haven, Fla., that re-opened its doors just six months ago.

Land South Adventures, the owners of Cypress Gardens, released a statement that the park had “explored numerous management frameworks and exhausted every possible approach to keep the park running in its traditional form.”

Cypress was known for featuring water-skiing shows, flower gardens, concerts and Southern belles during its 73 years in operation.

The park, which changed hands several times during that period and was hit by three hurricanes in 2004, closed last year for renovations and the removal of animal attractions and rides.

Bob Gernert Jr., executive director of the local chamber of commerce, told the News Chief the park struggled to compete in recent times.

“For a park and a location to be as successful and vibrant as Cypress Gardens was at its peak, the last six years have been very difficult. … As much as we love the gardens, Belles and water skiers, it’s hard to compete with what is up the road,” he said, in reference to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. “It will take someone with vision and an innovative spirit to make that park successful.”

One such interested party just might be Legoland, which the paper reported has been in discussions with park owners to purchase the 36-acre, lakeside site.

Mark Jackson, who heads a county tourism and sports marketing organization, told the Chief Legoland was a “well-heeled, top-notch organization with potential,” but added “there are multiple organizations discussing the purchase of the park.”