Cypress Gardens to Become Legoland
Cypress Gardens was sold again and this time the new owners are re-inventing this Winter Haven, Florida theme park. Cypress Gardens, billed as the oldest theme park in Florida has been a destination of millions from around the world for several decades and was always known for the water-skiing stunts and acrobats along with the gorgeous gardens.
Cypress Gardens arose from water-skiing exhibitions in the 1930s. The attraction later became as well known for its flower-drenched botanical gardens and the presence of Southern belles in elaborate hoop skirts. The attraction has changed owners several times in recent years and closed for the first time in 2003. It reopened with a new owner in 2004, only to shut down again two years later. The owners closed the park in 2008 and spent months renovating it before opening again last year. But the attraction closed again without warning in September.
Merlin Entertainments Group, the operator of Legoland theme parks, has bought the Winter Haven Park, after months of speculation following the abrupt closure of Cypress Gardens in September. The sale includes the original botanical gardens and the Splash Island water park. Merlin Entertainments Group is considered the world’s second-largest attraction company. It owns 59 attractions in 13 countries. Its properties include the Madame Tussauds wax museums and the Legoland parks, three in Europe and one in Carlsbad, Calif., south of Los Angeles. The company didn’t previously own any properties in Florida.
It’s a resurrection of the state’s first theme park, and we certainly felt the effects of the Gardens being closed. When you have the second-largest attraction-industry company in the world, it’s a huge, huge benefit, pretty much any way you look at it. We’re very excited about it. They operate a quality park. It is a niche market that is very attractive to anyone that ever has enjoyed playing with Legos, and that’s people from small children to middle-aged adults.
It would be a rebirth for tourism in Polk County and especially Winter Haven, a new injection of a primary tourism destination. Highland Homes has several communities in the Winter Haven area and is excited about the new employment base the new Legoland Park will bring. With homes in Winter Haven from $113,900, Highland Homes is confident they will be providing homes to the many new employees.
*Photo courtesy of Act1