What ever happened to Cypress Gardens, Florida?
Back in the early 1960’s, my family and I stayed in Deerfield Beach, Florida for a couple of lovely weeks in July. Mostly, we came to play in the water, lie on the beach, watch the sun rise over the ocean, do some shopping and marvel at palm trees.
Being avid gardeners, my parents decided that we should go on a side trip while in Florida, to the Historic Botanical Cypress Gardens which had been opened in 1936. In those pre-Disney days when my family and I visited, Cypress Gardens was the most visited attraction in the state.
It was stunning – a masterpiece in plant life in an incredibly artistic and vast setting.
Brightly dressed Southern Belles glided slowly on the lawns holding parasols. Trees and bushes dripped with blossom. Mammoth canopied trees with Spanish Moss beards were at every bend of the winding pathways. Sculpture and edifices dotted the landscape. A lazy boat ride on the waterway gave us a different perspective of the gardens.
And when we were done our wandering, there was a water ski show by the side of the lake that amazed us.
Here is a glimpse of the Cypress Gardens of 1957, uploaded to YouTube by John Romeo on Jun 21, 2008, and used with thanks.
A short while ago, a happy accident took me and my memories back to Cypress Gardens.I was actually on my way to Legoland in Winter Haven when I noticed signs for Cypress Gardens. “It’s here?” I questioned.
It was nearer than I thought, since Cypress Gardens is now part of the Legoland theme park, and the pleasure of garden wandering is included in the price of admission to Legoland.
The Gardens have morphed since my childhood visit because it has endured some hard times. There has been competition from newer theme parks, hugely expensive hurricane damage, drops in attendance levels, changes in ownership and then bankruptcy which closed the attraction for a while. When Legoland opened in the fall of 2011, Cypress Gardens reopened with it.
It’s a smaller venue now. The live Southern Belles are no longer wandering the gardens, but lovely Lego ladies are perched on benches here and there in their stead. The water ski show is part of Legoland’s Pirate’s Cove attraction now. There are no longer boat tours sliding through the Garden’s canal.
Even with all these pieces from the “olden days” missing from Cypress Gardens, it remains a gorgeous, peaceful haven in this part of the world. The gardens are still incredibly beautiful, the trees still majestic, and a wander along the albeit shorter paths is still awe-inspiring . Cypress Gardens is a royal attraction, and one that shouldn’t be missed when visiting the Orlando area.
This next video is a brief glimpse of Cypress Gardens (included as part of the Legoland theme park admission) in February 2012. The gardens are gorgeous and peaceful, with lots of places to sit a spell, and take a load off. And, the water ski show at Cypress Gardens Florida continues to this day, albeit, with a pirate theme.
Cypress Gardens – Legoland Orlando
- Location: One LEGOLAND Way, Winter Haven, FL 33884
- Distance: about 52 miles from #408 & #4 in downtown Orlando
- Tel: (877) 350-LEGO(5346)
- Web: florida.legoland.com
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