Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cypress Gardens Closes

Cypress Gardens and Splash Island water park, located in Winter Haven, Florida, have closed their doors.

The park, most recently owned by Land South Holdings and operated by Baker Leisure Group, has had a rough past decade or so. The park was purchased in 2004 by the owner of Wild Adventures Theme Park in Georgia, and renamed Cypress Gardens Adventure Park. Hampered by three consecutive hurricanes during the off-season that fall, the park suffered damages that it never fully recovered from.

The park was purchased during bankruptcy proceedings in 2007 and a new vision for the park was formed: the rides would be removed and only the gardens and water park would continue to operate.

The current owners have called the park not economically viable in it's current form. They are closing the park while they work on finding a new owner, or lessee for the whole property or even part of it. While that sounds hopeful, no one is certain the park will ever reopen at all at this point.

Personally, I could see the water park eventually reopening as it's fairly new, and many small water parks have been able to thrive off of local visitors around the country. The gardens however, I'm not so sure of.

The park was called "Florida's 1st Theme Park," and dates back to 1936. It's famous for it's gorgeous botanical gardens, as well as it's water ski shows and it's Southern Belles.

Tampa Bay Online has a nice article covering the closure located here. Sad news.


Chris said...

Seems there's a correlation between removing rides and the demise of a theme park, no matter how the removals are marketed. Look at Geauga Lake, under CF management, and look at what occurred here, at Cypress Gardens. If the business model was tough to sell to locals (ie; Lakeland) with the addition of rides, you can imagine how tough it would be with less to sell. It's a shame that the economy likely played a role which didn't allow for enough time for either of the past owners to trully realize their visions for the park.

I wouldn't be surprised if the state steps in and operates the park. The state of Florida recently acquired and now operates the Weeci Wachi (sp?) water park north of Tampa.