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Cypress Gardens
Location Winter Haven, Florida, United States
Owner Adventure Parks Group
Opened January 2, 1936 (1936-01-02)
Closed September 23, 2009 (2009-09-23)
Previous names Cypress Gardens Adventure Park
Operating season Year-round
Total 41
Roller coasters 5
Water rides 2
Cypress Gardens is located in Florida
Cypress Gardens
Location in Florida
Cypress Gardens is located in the United States
Cypress Gardens
Location in the United States
Location Winter Haven, Florida
Built 1936
NRHP reference No. 14000152
Added to NRHP April 14, 2014

Cypress Gardens was a botanical garden and theme park near Winter Haven, Florida that operated from 1936 to 2009. As of 2011, the botanical garden portion had been preserved inside the newly formed Legoland Florida.


The Gazebo and a Southern belle of Cypress Gardens

Billed as Florida's first commercial tourist theme park, Cypress Gardens opened on January 2, 1936 as a botanical garden planted by Dick Pope Sr. and his wife Julie. Over the years it became one of the biggest attractions in Florida, known for its water ski shows, gardens, and Southern Belles.

It became known as the "Water Ski Capital of the World" because it was the site of many of the sport's landmark firsts and over 50 world records were broken there. During World War II, soldiers visited and waterskiing was introduced for their entertainment. Numerous movies were filmed at the park, including portions of This is Cinerama, the first feature filmed in the wide-screen format, and a string of Esther Williams films and TV specials in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the 1950s the Southern Belles attraction was introduced, in which young women dressed in the crinolines reminiscent of the Antebellum South. During the American Civil War Centennial young men dressed in Confederate uniforms would be photographed with the Southern Belles. In the early 1960s a custom photography boat named Miss Cover Girl was introduced, and the park became a popular site for the filming of television commercials.

Many celebrities and dignitaries have skied and visited at the park, including Elvis Presley, King Hussein of Jordan and his son and successor, King Abdullah II. It was also the site of a Johnny Carson special.

On April 14, 2014, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Legoland acquisition

On January 15, 2010, the world's second largest theme park and attraction operator Merlin Entertainments bought Cypress Gardens with intent to use the site for the fifth Legoland. On January 21, 2010, Merlin Entertainments announced that the park would be turned into Legoland Florida. On October 21, 2010, an October 2011 opening date was announced. Opening day occurred on October 15, 2011 at 10 am EDT.


Roller coasters

Ride Year Opened Year Closed Description
Fiesta Express 2004 2008 A Zamperla kiddie coaster with small hairpin turns.
Okeechobee Rampage 2004 2008 A Vekoma junior roller coaster.
Swamp Thing 2004 2008 A Vekoma Family Suspended roller coaster.
Triple Hurricane 2004 2008 Martin & Vleminckx Group junior wooden coaster. Named for the three hurricanes (Charley, Frances, and Jeanne) that hit the park in 2004. It is an ACE Coaster Classic.
Galaxy Spin 2005 2008 Zamperla Spinning Wild Mouse coaster, like the Primeval Whirl at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Starliner 2007 2008 A classic Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters designed wooden coaster. Originally ran at the Miracle Strip Amusement Park in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Thrill rides

Ride Year Opened Year Closed Description
Delta Kite Flyers 2004 2008 Zamperla Kite Flyer flat ride, riders are spun around while in a flying position.
Disk'O 2004 2008 Zamperla Disk'O flat ride, riders spin around on a frisbee crossing a track.
Pharaoh's Fury 2004 2008 Chance Rides Swinging Ship flat ride.
Power Surge 2004 2008 Zamperla Power Surge flat ride, a large spinning and flipping flat ride.
Thunderbolt 2004 2008 An ARM tower ride, like the Power Tower at Cedar Point.
Yo-Yo 2004 2008 Chance Rides "Yo-Yo" flat ride, a circular "wave swinger" type flat ride.

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