Monday, November 23, 2009

Aerial Antics: Cypress Gardens

This week's Aerial Antics comes with a bit of sadness, as we take a look at the recently closed Cypress Gardens.

The park opened in 1936 and quickly became famous for it's beautiful botanical gardens and it's water ski shows on the lake you can see glistening in the sunlight above. The ownership has changed hands several times over the decades, with many investors and companies such as Busch Gardens owning the property during it's history.

The park was purchased and re-branded Cypress Gardens Adventure Park in 2004, when most of the rides featured in this post were added. The park eventually changed hands again, sold off many of the rides, but still closed. It seems it's having a hard time fitting in the Florida entertainment industry these days.

The Triple Hurricane is a family wooden coaster that was named after the three hurricanes that held up the reopening of the park in late 2004. It was built by Martin & Vleminckx, and features a 40 ft. lift and around 1,360 ft. of track.

This section of the park was always known for it's beautiful floral displays, and had been dotted with amusement rides during the conversion. The park was home to two Vekoma coasters, one of which - Swamp Thing - is shown here.

Investments in the park also included a water park, known as Splash Island. Although the amusement rides were sold and removed, the latest owners had tried to operate the water park as a separate admission attraction. It's all new and it'd be nice to see it be able to reopen some day.

Finally, a big move for the park was the addition of the Starliner classic wooden coaster. It operated at Miracle Strip amusement park in Panama City, FL, from the 1960s to the mid 2000s when that park closed its doors. Cypress Gardens purchased and moved the ride, carefully rebuilding the John Allen coaster. Probably the biggest tragedy of the park's closure was this ride, as it's not often a park cares to move and rebuild a wooden ride, and this one was only able to operate a little over a year before closing again.

For a link to the aerials, click here.