Special Note about Cypress Gardens:
The following information is about the closed Cypress Gardens. Cypress Gardens predated Disney World by many years. Its quaint mix of botanical gardens, Southern belles in hoop skirts, and water ski shows once made the park a Florida must-see. But Disney and other next-generation parks rendered Cypress Gardens a bit too quaint, and by 2003, it closed after years of dwindling attendance.
The owners of Georgia's Wild Adventures came to the rescue, added the "Adventure Park" tagline, and introduced coasters and other amusement park staples into the mix. However, they declared bankruptcy. New owners eliminated the coasters and rides during the 2008 season.
Surprises loomed at every bend in the path: A ring of beautiful, yet faintly ominous, banyan trees provided a canopy of shade; impossibly beautiful, flowing flowerbeds converged at a white gazebo and cascaded down a hill. The Topiary Trail featured oversized whimsical creatures fashioned from hedges and plants. A butterfly conservatory, which sat at the entrance to the lovely, formal Plantation Gardens, offered a hushed sanctuary.
The food was mostly uninspired, typical park fare. I wondered why the park didn't add some vegetable gardens to the grounds so that they could have prepared meals using the freshly picked crops. With its old-Florida heritage, perhaps Cypress Gardens should have also incorporated citrus into some dishes or at least featured citrus drinks.