Volume 1 Number 51
December 20, 2004



Visit the Cypress Gardens website for more information.




Located in Winter Haven, Cypress Gardens Adventure Park’s grand opening was a festive event with a ski show, hoop-skirted Southern belles and new roller coasters and rides. Not your grandparents’ Cypress Gardens of serene gardens and water acrobatics, but new excitement of the modern amusement park to complement the natural beauty and historical gardens. 

“This is a dynamic use of Florida Forever funds,” commented Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher. “The Cypress Gardens many Florida residents and visitors remember is recaptured with its southern charm and exciting water ski shows. And the visitors who want a more exciting adventure can find that, too.” 

Founded in 1936 by water skier Dick Pope Sr., the botanical gardens and natural lake have been a popular destination for families making road trips through Central Florida. Disney opening in 1971 launched Orlando’s dominance in the vacation market. 

Cypress Gardens suffered from the competition and went through a series of ownerships through the years. In 2003 the Trust for Public Land purchased the park to save it from development.  

On January 27, 2004, Gov. Bush and the Florida Cabinet secured the future of Cypress Gardens as a Florida attraction by voting unanimously to place a conservation easement over the entire 150-acre property.  

Polk County paid $2.5 million for 30 acres of the original botanical gardens and the state of Florida paid the trust $11 million for conservation rights for the entire property. Kent Buescher, who owns Wild Adventure theme park in Valdosta, Georgia, paid $7 million to buy the remaining 120 acres for the park. 

400 people have been hired to operate the attraction, and an arcade, animal exhibits, water park and a restaurant in the old mansion are planned. 

The 10-year, $3 billion Florida Forever program, which funded the state easement, conserves environmentally sensitive land, restores water resources and preserves cultural and historical resources. 

The skyline for December is downtown Gainesville, featuring the Hippodrome Theater, originally the post office.