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Robert Niles

Legoland owner buys Cypress Gardens

Published: January 15, 2010 at 1:18 PM

It looks like Merlin Entertainments Group, the owner of Legoland California and a slew of parks thoughout Europe, has bought the defunct Cypress Gardens park in Florida.

What this means? Your guess is as good as mine. Stuck in a lousy location away from Florida's major highways, Cypress Gardens has never had great success, though its won fans during its various incarnations over the years.

Some folks seem to hope that Cypress Gardens could become the site of a new Legoland Florida. Merlin's been rebuffed so far in its attempts to find a site for a second U.S. Legoland in the Midwest. And Legoland did select Carlsbad in Southern California for its first U.S. park, rather than building in more traditional tourist areas near Anaheim, San Diego or Los Angeles.

But Merlin owns many brand names, so there's no reason why the company couldn't try to give a Cypress Gardens-branded amusement park a go.

Replies (11)

Published: January 15, 2010 at 1:41 PM

If nothing else, PLEASE save the Starliner Roller Coaster! It was already saved once and moved to Cypress Gardens.
James Rao

Published: January 15, 2010 at 4:29 PM

According to Screamscape, most every ride in the park is up for sale (including Starliner), so the new owners must have plans to go in a completely different direction (as intimated by Mr. Niles, Legoland Florida sounds like a distinct possibility).

However, I am not sure how this deal shakes out, and maybe the rides are no longer for sale?

Joshua Counsil

Published: January 15, 2010 at 6:17 PM

I think Legoland might be trotting in dangerous territory. Universal got in there when Disney only had two parks, and look what Disney did - immediately built a new theme park.

Still, this would definitely up the competition, which can only benefit the fans.

David Graham

Published: January 15, 2010 at 6:40 PM

It will be interesting to watch to see what they do, but everyone has to remember Legoland doesn't go for the same large crowds as WDW, S.w. or USF goes for. I think I remember they are usually about 2 million a year were it's more like 8 to 10 (guessing) for the other parks. Location is my only concern, but if they build it, I will go check it out as a local, never been to a Legoland...
Bob Miller

Published: January 16, 2010 at 9:31 AM

As that line in the movie goes" If you build it, they will come". If Merlin does put in a Legoland at Cypress Gardens, and does major advertising untill it's established in the market, it'll do fine.

Just because the Cypress Gardens location is out of the way, it doesn't doom the whole idea of a Legoland being successful. Just look at Knoebels here in Pennsylvania. It's way out in the sticks, but people from all over PA,NY and NJ, come to this little burg to enjoy the rides. And from what I've read in TPI, folks from all over come here also, to my home park, just 10 miles away. So advertising does help.

I'd hate to see all of Cypress Gardens disappear, it's a nice place. So hopefully Merlin can fit a Legoland in the area some how. JMHO.

David Kirby

Published: January 16, 2010 at 1:51 PM

I doubt any of the major chains will build another park in response to this. Honestly, I doubt Disney will ever build another full scale park. Their existing parks need a LOT of work before they even consider building a new park. Universal just spent millions on Harry Potter - I doubt a new park is in their budget. BG/Seaworld just opened Aquatica not even 2 years ago so I doubt a new park is in their future.
Raul Araoz

Published: January 16, 2010 at 4:14 PM

Love the idea. Merlin has a terrific track record and if they decide to leave Cypress the way it is, build a new Legoland, or create some sort of hybrid; this site might actually become successful.

I agree that Disney or Universal are not going to respond for some time if Legoland does come to fruition. As far as location goes, I figure that if enough tourists express interest in the new park, Merlin and Mears could create a similar transportation option that Busch Gardens has.

Published: January 18, 2010 at 5:18 AM

Merlin are second in the industry in terms of size, I'm sure they will have the resources and expertise to pull off opening another Legoland in the already competitive market of Florida.

They bought over Tussaud's in the UK two years ago and have since been adding new rides, attractions and generally improving all of the parks that came with the takeover.

They are good and I'm sure the other established Florida residents will be keeping an eye on there new neighbour.

Published: January 18, 2010 at 11:49 AM

I went to Cypress gardens in the 80s. Don't remember any rides at the time, other than the boat ride through the canals with beatiful gardens adorned with girls in Southern belle outfits. Oh, yeah, and the water ski show. I think if they preserved some of the original gardens for the retro vibe, and built a legoland along with it would be great! I would make the trek out there.

Don't think even with two gates it would be more than a one day park, so would be an add on to an Orlando vacation for most, and would not pull a response out of the existing parks.

Published: January 18, 2010 at 3:20 PM

So once again, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, and Cypress Gardens are all under the same corporate umbrella: Blackstone. I've only been to CG once and agree with another poster that it's an add-on park, hopefully Merlin can make it successful again. While Legoland would attract tourists back to Winter Haven I hope they can keep part of the "classic" CG intact. It's not Cypress Gardens without a water-ski show.
Robert Niles

Published: January 18, 2010 at 6:31 PM

Even though Blackstone owns control of both Merlin and SeaWorld, those are seperate companies with their own management.

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