In the fall, trees, plants, and flowers shed their leaves and blossoms to prepare for the arrival of spring and a new season. After years of plummeting revenues and a parade of owners, Florida's Cypress Gardens may not have another season. And that's a shame.
Current owner Land South Adventures LLC closed the park's gates yesterday and announced that it is seeking buyers or renters. Acknowledging the challenges of operating the park in its current form, the company said that it would consider selling or leasing the property in parcels.
Dating back to 1936, Cypress Gardens is the oldest theme park in Florida. Disney and other next-generation parks rendered Cypress Gardens a bit too quaint, and by 2003, it closed after years of dwindling attendance. Kent Buescher, then the owner of Georgia's Wild Adventures, came to the rescue and reopened the park in 2005 with a water park, concert series, coasters, and other amusement park staples. Buescher was successful in boosting attendance at the rejuvenated park, but by late 2007, mounting debt forced him to sell both Wild Adventures and Cypress Gardens.
When it took over in 2008, Land South Adventures ditched the coasters and rides, as well as the park's animal exhibits. It also began charging a separate fee for Splash Island Water Park, which had been included in general admission. Those seemed like boneheaded moves to me at the time and may have helped doom the company's chances for success.
With its incredibly beautiful gardens and venerable status, I'd be sad to see Cypress Gardens close for good. What are your thoughts?? Have you visited Cypress Gardens? Would you lament its loss if it closed? Click on "Comments" below to join the conversation.
- Cypress Gardens Photo Gallery- See the incredibly beautiful gardens that comprise the heart of the park.
- Cypress Gardens Splash Island Water Park Photo Gallery
- Cypress Gardens Coaster and Ride Photo Gallery- See the coasters and rides that have since closed at the park.
Photo: Elegant cypress trees line the banks of Lake Eloise at Cypress Gardens. © Arthur Levine, 2006. Licensed to About.com.