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Is Cypress Gardens back on track?

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Published: January 3, 2008 at 7:11 PM

An Orlando Sentinel story touches on the new owners of Cypress Gardens and what they are doing to bring the park back to it's earlier glory. It sounds linke the new owners, local people, have the right idea to bring the park back. I had been to the park when my parents would bring us down to Florida for vacation from the cold New York winters, so I do have a certain fondness for the park.

Readers' Opinions

From David Sutter on January 4, 2008 at 6:41 AM
Im glade someone besides me. Submitted a articale on this.
Will this cause an Inprovement to Cyress Gardens, i think so...Having worked for GreatAdventure before Six Flags and, verious other theme parks in both cast member and management areas...yes its all good, One of the areas that has always need inprovemet is in the Gardens cast members...While they are all polite and out going...it is understaffed...While the gardens themselfs are turly wonderful,,,The ride area needs to be worked on...One idea I do hope the work with is plantings or garden areas With the Rides area...After all it it Cypress Gardens...Some rethemeing would also help...And new costumes ...Very much done to a turn of the Century them wouuld bennefit the ideas...There is much to like and love about the place....And lots that needs inproving..But will it work? Yes...with smat planning and themeing it can become a great and wonderful place. And as many have stated here a good alternative to the Orlando attractions...
From Karan Ogilvie on January 4, 2008 at 10:13 AM
We took our grandchildren last spring and had a great time; there is work to be done to continue the improvements; the smaller park was nice - not so overwhelming for little ones. Need to work on the food offerings, too. We are planning to go back when the kids visit this spring and hope to see the improvements.
From Claudine Deshaies on January 4, 2008 at 3:46 PM
My parents have been to Cypress Gardens without me, but I've never been. If I do read positive reviews of the park on here during the year, I'll make a point to visit in the Spring of 2009. With so many parks to see in the Orlando area, I tend to pick the parks with bigger rides; but a small relaxing park can be fun, too. I hope they do well.
From TH Creative on January 4, 2008 at 5:44 PM
Oh for God's sake give it up!

Cypress Gardens may have history but its doomed. It's too far from Orlando and it's competing with Disney and Universal -- multi-park resorts that sell vacation packages designed to keep guests on their property.

CG will surely go the way of Circus World/Boardwalk & Baseball.

From David Sutter on January 5, 2008 at 5:40 AM
Well thats one mans view...But as the Big three price themselves out of reach. Mark my words it will work..With the same parks in Souther California...All their smaller ones do well...So No reason not to belive Cypress Gardens wont either...But then your not looking at it from the right perspective either...
From Erik Yates on January 5, 2008 at 7:48 AM
BGT is far out of reach, and it does amazingly well. CG really needs to step it up, take away the "RCT" feel it has, and make it a normal park. Add food, add shows, and add a flow to it.
I love CG, its really a neat little park....but they are just seem that they are really too redneck for their own good. I get it, you're country, and you're run by a local town...but they want to be a big park, and you can tell that by how they promote themselves, they just dont have the financial backing to do so, and unless you have that you cant be a big country hillbilly park...unless you're Dollywood.
From TH Creative on January 5, 2008 at 11:34 AM
"Not looking at it from the right perspective?!"

My perspective comes from Central Florida theme park and hospitality experience dating back to 1982. Circus World DIED! Boardwalk and Baseball DIED! And they were CLOSER to Orlando than Cypress Gardens.

The last owner of Cypress Gardens was an experienced theme park operator who added attractions and he STILL could not make it work.

With maintenance and operating costs creeping higher every year, trying to bring CG back from the dead is a fool's errand.

From Susan Pfeil on January 5, 2008 at 3:09 PM
Cypress Gardens is first and foremost a beautiful garden and shouldn't be turned into a theme park and plastered with a bunch of rides. I don't believe it was ever intended to be a high volume park due to its nature (no pun intended). If this company knows any better, they will figure out the gardens are its biggest asset and what they plan should evolve around that concept. Make the experience edutaining. Something like Animal Kingdoms “It’s tough to be a bug” would be cute. There are millions of bugs and plant life and there are as many different ways to tell a story. If the company is in to make millions and millions, well that may not be do-able.

A recommendation would be for a team from CG to fly to Sydney, Australia and check their gardens out (behind the Opera House). It's beautiful! They have a cute little train that takes you around the park and explains the rare types of plants and trees. I'm sure other botanical gardens around the world offer unique experiences. CG can check those out, too and gauge.

With this approach maybe CG will be able to obtain funding from major corporations who are going green or are earth friendly. These funds can go towards educational attractions like Siemens did with Spaceship Earth at EPCOT.

Anyway, I will look forward to seeing the changes.

From Erik Yates on January 5, 2008 at 3:55 PM
While thats a wonderful idea, its been tried....and it failed. They tried to capitlize on the gardens above all else....People in America, specifically Orlando want rides in their Gardens.
As for the previous owner, let it be told that both his parks have failed.....bankruptcy befell both parks. And the park hasnt failed yet, its still open, and theyare still planning more rides. They are still attracting big name performers, and still giving the concerts away with admission. But if they want to continue, and they want to continue to grow, they have to decide which way their going to go....strictly family or all around....persoally, I'd throw some more coasters in there, get rid of the carnival type rides and revamp the gardens and boat shows.
From Susan Pfeil on January 5, 2008 at 9:40 PM
I'm not convinced that theme park owners know much about obtaining gardens and all efforts were exhausted. As stated in this thread, operational costs go up with rides and maintenance. It's a historical garden and needs to be preserved. There is a balance it's just knowing how to go about it. I find it hard to believe that the Sanford Zoo can get major corporation sponsorships for exhibits, but CG doesn't have a chance.

I believe CG can be classified as a museum. As defined by the AAM “American museums are infinitely diverse…their common denominator is making a "unique contribution to the public by collecting, preserving, and interpreting the things of this world."

"Their numbers include both governmental and private museums of anthropology, art history and natural history, aquariums, arboreta, art centers, botanical gardens, children's museums, historic sites, nature centers, planetariums, science and technology centers, and zoos.

From David Sutter on January 6, 2008 at 6:59 AM
Ok this is my last vote on this. Cypress Gardens is on the Historic Registery. And the land around it is to be used for the expantion to attract guests to it. And it would take an act of congress to change any of it as it sits today. The Park is forever protected from development and will always remain. Adventure Group file banrupcy after the failure of funds appeared to restore the garden area after the huriccanes. And insurace companies. Failure to pay settlements as well. Every blog on here has its vailid points. And Im sure all will fare well. Park attendance figures show it reached 1.1 million guests last year. Reaching it 5th year goal 2 years early. The Tv ads have become more slick in their apperance. The concert list is now back on track with big names ever weekend. And new shows being added. THier working on inproving the the staffing and food selections. And moneies have been freed to work on the gardens as well. With that said lets just wish them all the best.
From Themepark Guy on January 7, 2008 at 3:52 PM
The debt load dropped dramatically when they went into bankruptcy-Great opportunity to make it work NOW. Kent's not a bad guy- hurricanes make a lot of people look bad.

Steve Baker is a good guy-great background, great staff, great understanding of how to make things work, great contacts is sponsorship.

There are enough people to make it work locally-you'll drive 45 minutes once or twice a year to go to a MUCH cheaper park-people do it every day.

I say DROP the concert series-only older season pass holders who don't spend go to them-no revenue, just expenses. 35 shows a year? $50K-$70K a show-do the math....YIKES..

I say that they have a great chance of making it now and look forward to going there soon.

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