Cypress Gardens Splash Island Water Park
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009
According to Mark Jackson, the director of Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing,
two companies have shown interest in purchasing the theme park.
One of those is Merlin Entertainments Group, which owns theme parks scattered around the world.
Those parks include Legoland California.
Jackson did not disclose the second company that has shown interest in Cypress Gardens. California
Wikipedia Legoland California
  Note: links added by ACTWON not the WHNC
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Cypress Gardens closing its gates
After months of rumor surrounding the possible sale or closing of Cypress Gardens,
the owners announced this afternoon that Florida’s oldest theme park is closing effective today.
The following statement was released by Bob Morgan, the park's director of sales and marketing:
“From the earliest moment that our firm purchased Cypress Gardens and Splash Island Waterpark,
our highest priority has always been to maintain the park’s beauty
and protect its proud traditions as a mainstay of the state’s history and natural treasures.
It is with these ideals in mind that we must announce that the park
will be closed for business as of Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009.
"During the last two years, Land South Adventures LLC has explored numerous management frameworks
and exhausted every possible approach to keep the park running in its traditional form.
Now, we are in the process of negotiating with several potential purchasers and lessees for all or part of the property,
and do not feel it is fair to our employees, the guests, or the public
to continue operations heading into the fall with the future of the property in flux.
"We are optimistic that the outcome will be in the best interests
of both the park and the residents of Polk County and the state of Florida.”
Founded in 1936 by Dick and Julie Pope, Cypress Gardens changed hands several times between 1985,
when it was sold by the Pope family to Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
and 2004, when it was purchased by Kent Buescher.
The county controls the 30 acres of botanical gardens and the state holds a conservatorship over the rest.
This arrangement was made in 2004, when the state and county facilitated the $7 million sale of the property
from developer Larry Maxwell to Buescher.
This was arranged through a national nonprofit conservation organization,
the Trust for Public Land in an effort to preserve the original gardens.
Rob Harper and Brian Philpot - through their business, Land South Holdings
purchased the theme park in October 2007 in a bankruptcy auction.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Polk County will begin intersection improvements to
Cypress Gardens Road and Cypress Gardens Boulevard on Monday.
The upgrades will increase the level of service and enhance safety
Construction is expected to finish by mid December.
Motorists are advised to use caution in the work zone and to expect delays.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
With Cypress Gardens and Splash Island Water Park running smoothly,
Bill Sims will no longer be at the park every day.
Cypress Gardens spokesman Bob Morgan said Sims is "still a part of the management team."
Morgan said that when Sims was brought on board in February,
his main priority was to get the park reopened and operating.
Since that has been accomplished, he has stepped back from day-to-day operations.
Sims, who was executive vice president of Cypress Gardens when it was sold in 1985,
returned to his roots in February as the head of the new management team
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Cypress Gardens will host its first major celebration since its March reopening
with fireworks, flags, fun and music in a special three-day tribute to those who have served their country.
Memorial Weekend: A Salute to the Military will be held May 23-25 at the attraction
"It's the first special event for the Gardens as we go into the 2009 season,
and it is our way of saluting members of the armed forces,
kicking off the summer and celebrating the Gardens,"
said Bob Morgan, the attraction's director of marketing
Cypress Gardens will be open from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on May 23.
The evening will feature "A Tribute to Patsy Cline" by entertainer Margo Anderson,
who will sing selections by Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Reba McEntire at 6:30 p.m.
The day will culminate with a fireworks display over Lake Eloise at 9:05 p.m.
The Gardens will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on May 24.
Entertainment will include "A Tribute to Elvis" at 4 p.m.
and a performance by Winter Haven-based band Fletcher Cane.
"Elvis Presley served in the Army, so this is fitting"
said Bill Sims, who is managing the attraction's operations.
On May 25, Memorial Day, park hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Active and retired military personnel will get into Cypress Gardens for free.
The Navy band from Jacksonville is set to present a concert at 4 p.m.
  Note: Wikipedia links add by ACTWON not the WHNC
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Cypress Gardens comes alive again with visitors
After four months of emptiness, the parking lot at Cypress Gardens
was busy again with cars Saturday
as people rolled in for the reopening of Florida's first theme park.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Business briefs
Theme park and water park veteran Bob Morgan
has been named the new director of sales and marketing
for Cypress Gardens and Splash Island Water Park.
"Bob brings more than 25 years of successful sales and marketing experience to the position,"
Cypress Gardens General Manager Bill Sims said in a news release.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Cypress Gardens' new day at hand; park reopens Saturday
Somewhere, Cypress Gardens founder Dick Pope Sr. is smiling.
Once more, flowers are blooming, skiers are performing
and Southern Belles are strolling in the attraction he opened in 1936
"I'm excited," General Manager Bill Sims said during a media tour of the attraction Thursday.
"It's my goal to get our water park and gardens back to something Dick Pope Sr. can be proud of."
Sims worked at Cypress Gardens from 1970 to 1985
Friday, March 27, 2009
"Because of timing, we're not adding any water rides,"
Bill Sims, the Cypress Gardens general manager,
said during a media tour of the gardens and water park Thursday.
The water park will follow a seasonal schedule,
which includes being open every day in June, July and August
and on weekends in September and October.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Shuttered since Nov. 17 for renovations, Cypress Gardens will reopen March 28
with a former park veteran at the helm, attraction officials said today.
Bill Sims, introduced by owners Brian Philpot and Rob Harper
as leader of the attraction's new management team,
said Florida's first theme park will open in time for spring break.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Cypress Gardens' plans progressing
The owners of Cypress Gardens Adventure Park
are moving forward with plans to open in late March,
said the attraction's spokesman, Rick Dantzler.  News Chief  Winter Haven, FL

Cypress Gardens has long history

Jan. 2, 1936 Richard "Dick" Pope Sr. and his wife, Julie, open Cypress Gardens
as a botanical garden on the northeast shore of Lake Eloise near Winter Haven.
1943 The first water ski show is held at Cypress Gardens to entertain visiting U.S. servicemen,
and the park quickly becomes known as the "water-ski capital of the world."
1947 Water-ski shows at the Gardens begin to be presented on a daily basis.
Also, for the first time, a feature-length motion picture,
"On an Island With You" is filmed in the original botanical gardens.
It stars Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams.
1948 Dick Pope Jr., the son of the Cypress Gardens owners and then 18 years old,
is featured barefoot skiing on television.
1952 Dick Pope Sr. is formally named "Mr. Florida" by Orlando Sentinel Publisher Martin Anderson.
1953 "Easy to Love" another theatrical movie starring Esther Williams, is filmed at the park.
The Florida Pool is constructed for the movie.
1962 Dick Pope Sr. turned the reins of the park over to his son, Dick Pope Jr.,
and then commits himself to promoting tourism and the development of Florida
1965 Dick Pope Sr. rescues the ailing Florida Pavilion at the 1965 World's Fair in New York.
By the year's end, the Florida Ski Show makes the pavilion the fair's most popular.
Late 1960s Television stars Johnny Carson and Mike Douglas
broadcast specials from the "islands" area on Lake Summit.
1971 Cypress Gardens receives new competition for guests
with the opening of Walt Disney World near Orlando.
1974 Cypress Gardens is expanded southward through acquisition of the Snively property.
Rides, a zoo and the Crossroads area are added.
1983 The Island in the Sky ride, sponsored originally by Kodak, is installed.
1985 Cypress Gardens is purchased along with
Sea World, Circus World (later rebuilt as Boardwalk & Baseball)
and the Stars Hall of Fame by Harcourt, Brace Yavonovich, a publishing company.
For the first time, the park is not led by someone from the founding Pope family.
Sept. 28, 1989 The park is purchased by Busch Entertainment,
the owner of Busch Gardens in Tampa.
April 1, 1995 Cypress Gardens is purchased by a management team led by William Reynolds
2001 The Wacky Water Park opens in the park.
April 13, 2003 Cypress Gardens closes, with no immediate plans for reopening,
following a prolonged tourism decline that resulted from
the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
More than 500 people are put out of work with only three days' notice.
Soon afterward, the Friends of Cypress Gardens is incorporated,
and within three and a half months,
this grassroots effort raises $13.5 million and helps to save the park
Feb. 22, 2004 Adventure Parks Group, owned by Kent Buescher,
purchases the property and renames it Cypress Gardens Adventure Park.
The purchase of the amusement park portion of the Cypress Gardens property
is part of a larger conservation transaction involving
the Polk County government and the state of Florida.
September 2004 Buescher's plan to reopen the park is delayed by severe damage
caused by hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne.
November 2004 Cypress Gardens Adventure Park reopens with great fanfare.
One of its new attractions, the Triple Hurricane roller coaster,
is named for the tumultuous storm season.
2005 Buescher adds the Splash Island water park to the Cypress Gardens entertainment package.
September 2006 Adventure Parks Group files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy,
partly as a result of the $30 million in damages sustained by the 2004 hurricanes.
Oct. 16, 2007 Led by owners Brian Philpot and Rob Harper, Land South Adventures,
a subsidiary of Mulberry-based Land South Holdings LLC,
buys Cypress Gardens in a bankruptcy auction for $16.9 million.
Buescher remains as interim manager
Jan. 2, 2008 Buescher is relieved of his management duties and
Baker Leisure Group of Orlando takes over park management operations
Nov. 10, 2008 Land South Holdings announces the temporary closure of the park, effective Nov. 17,
for renovations and restructuring, including the elimination of rides and the animal park.
Feb. 24, 2009 Philpot and Harper announce that Cypress Gardens will reopen on March 18, 2009,
with reduced pricing and an option for guests to pay separate admission for either
Cypress Gardens or the Splash Island water park.
Former park executive Bill Sims is named the park's general manager.
Sept. 23, 2009 Philpot and Harper announce the closing of Cypress Gardens effective immediately
and commit to helping find another buyer for the historic theme park operation.
  Note: Wikipedia and IMDb links add by ACTWON not the WHNC

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Land South Adventures has announced that
Cypress Gardens and Splash Island Waterpark closed for business as of Wednesday.
The company purchased the parks about two years ago.
In a Wednesday afternoon press release, the company said:
"During the last two years, Land South Adventures, LLC,
has explored numerous management frameworks and
exhausted every possible approach to keep the park running in its traditional form.
Now, we are in the process of negotiating with several potential purchasers
and lessees for all or part of the property,
and do not feel it is fair to our employees, the guests, or the public
to continue operations heading into the fall with the future of the property in flux."

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