Though Legoland Florida has only been around for a few years, the Cypress Gardens area inside the park has been there for much longer and is celebrating its 80th year. [Read more…]
Legoland Florida paid tribute today to the heritage of Cypress Gardens during a ribbon cutting ceremony to reopen the Florida Pool and Oriental Gardens.
When Legoland Florida opens on Oct. 15, guests 60 years and older will have the opportunity to purchase a Senior Garden Pass, which is a weekday annual pass for only $60 plus tax. [Read more…]
Legoland Florida officials held a media presentation and hard hat tour yesterday to answer the three questions they are most often asked.
What’s going to be in the park?
When will it open?
How much will tickets cost? [Read more…]
Thousands of eager residents came out to the Winter Haven Orange Dome one night last week to see what Legoland Florida will bring to Central Florida upon opening in fall 2011. [Read more…]
Today Merlin Entertainments announced a multi-million dollar investment for its biggest family tourist center in the world with the planned opening of Legoland Florida.
Merlin purchased the historical Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Fla. from property investment company Land South Group and will open Legoland Florida on the site at the end of 2011. The deal to buy the 145-acre site includes the current theme park and waterpark as well as an operating lease in perpetuity on the historic botanical gardens. Merlin plans a significant multi-million dollar investment over a number of years, up to and beyond opening, in what will be the biggest Legoland to date. In line with the group’s “resort” strategy for its theme parks, this is likely to include both accommodation and the addition of further branded attractions from the Merlin portfolio. This will build on the $100 million invested over the last few years in improved infrastructure on the site.
The Florida development will be Merlin’s second Legoland Park in North America. It will provide a full-day, year round, theme park experience geared towards families with children between the ages of two and 12. Its design will mirror the successful concept of the four existing Legoland Parks in Denmark, Germany, U.K. and California. However, as with the other four, it will also have its own unique “twist” reflecting its stunning location and adding a Florida flavour.
The decision to open a Legoland Park in Florida follows considerable research in the area by Merlin over a number of years. This indicated a high recognition of the Legoland Park brand and a 90 percent plus intention to visit by families in this target market. The issue has been to find the ideal site. Cypress Gardens has long been a popular location for millions of visitors. Merlin believes its Central Florida location, approximately 50 minutes from Orlando and also close to Tampa, is the perfect site for Legoland.
The development follows the success of Legoland California which opened in 1999. Legoland California was recently voted the country’s best children’s theme park by “Amusement Today” for the sixth year running. It is also recognized as the fastest growing theme park in the U.S., enjoying an increase in visitor numbers year-on-year, including six percent in 2009.
Legoland Florida will be the biggest Legoland Park ever opened and will offer a unique mix of more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, including spectacular Lego models and other interactive elements for the whole family to enjoy together.
The park is expected to create more than 1,000 new jobs by opening; as well as boosting the Florida economy through the use of local contractors for development.
Frequently Asked Questions:
When will the park open?
The Legoland makeover will take approximately two years. They’re expecting to open at the end of 2011.
Why open it in Polk County?
Officials said they visited Cypress Gardens in past years and fell in love with the place. They explained that their other theme parks are located on beautiful grounds. They looked at many locations in Orlando but ultimately chose Cypress Gardens. They also added that if they had built from scratch on another location, it would have taken them five or six years.
Will the gardens remain?
Yes. They stressed that they will keep the beautiful gardens.
What about the Southern Belles and the Florida shaped pool?
They haven’t decided if they’ll remain yet or not.
Will they keep the water ski shows?
They haven’t decided for sure, but they hope to. They think the water ski show could easily be themed with the Lego brand.
Will the Cypress Gardens name remain?
Maybe in some form. The location will be called Legoland Florida, and eventually Legoland Florida Resort. They are thinking about calling the gardens part of Legoland “Cypress Gardens”. If so, you’d go to Legoland Florida to visit the Cypress Gardens.
How many attractions will there be?
Somewhere around 50 all together. This includes rides and shows.
Will any of the Cypress Gardens rides remain? What about the wooden roller coasters?
Some of Cypress Gardens’ rides have already been removed. Some of them have been sold but not moved off property yet. Officials said they will probably keep some of the rides and retheme them. They are thinking about keeping one of the wooden roller coasters but didn’t say which one.
Will a Legoland hotel be built?
They plan to eventually build an onsite hotel, but not until a while after the opening.
Where is it located and how do I get there?
The property is about a 45 to 55 minute drive from Downtown Disney. From Orlando, you would take I-4 West to exit 55, (U.S. 27 South), then turn right on Cypress Gardens Boulevard. It’s an easy drive if I-4 traffic isn’t bad.
Will they offer promotions with other Central Florida theme parks?
They hope to. They said they’re willing to work with any of the other theme park companies including Disney.
Will the water park remain? Will it become a Legoland waterpark?
Yes, the water park will remain. It won’t become a Legoland Water Park right away, but if their upcoming first Legoland Water Park, which opens in California in June, does well, they may bring it here.
Will the waterpark be included with admission to Legoland?
No. It will require a separate ticket.
How much will ticket prices be to Legoland?
They haven’t announced prices yet, but a current one-day adult ticket to Legoland California is $67.
Here’s video from the press conference:
Here’s a look at the Legoland California Resort. This will give you an idea of the types of attractions that are coming to Legoland Florida:
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It seems the cat may have gotten out of the bag. The Lakeland Ledger has obtained an e-mail sent to Polk County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson that says Legoland is coming to Cypress Gardens. All e-mails sent to public official’s business e-mail accounts are public record.
But the e-mail wasn’t sent from Merlin Entertainments Group officials (Merlin, owner of Legoland, has purchased the Cypress Gardens property). It was sent by Mark Jackson, a director with Central Florida Tourism & Sports Marketing. So it’s possible he has assumed the announcement will be Legoland, but not likely.
Here are some details listed in the e-mail:
“Helpful Facts: Confidential until Thursday.
1. LEGOLAND Florida will be the fifth LEGOLAND attraction worldwide (CA, Denmark, England, and Germany).
2. Merlin is the second largest attraction company in the world, second only behind Disney.
3. Merlin’s massive research in the area already indicated that; the LEGOLAND brand already has high recognition and a 90% intention to visit by families in their target market.
4. LEGOLAND, CA, is the fastest growing theme park in the U.S., realizing an astounding 6% growth in 2009. The park was also recognized by Amusement Today as the country’s best theme park for children for the sixth consecutive year.
5. Check out Merlin’s website (www.merlinentertainments.biz.) for a broad overview of their operations.”
We plan on being there tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. for the announcement. Check our Twitter account at www.twitter.com/attractions for news from the press conference. We’ll also have all the details, as well as photos and video here tomorrow afternoon.
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Merlin Entertainments Group has purchased Cypress Gardens.
A spokeswoman for Merlin said the purchase includes the current Cypress Gardens theme park, the Splash Island water park and the adjacent botanical gardens. The company did not disclose the sales price.
Merlin is the second busiest amusement operator in the world. Its holdings include Legoland theme parks, Madame Tussaud’s wax museums and the London Eye.
The acquisition also increases the already substantial presence of private-equity colossus The Blackstone Group in Central Florida’s theme-park industry. Blackstone, which has fall purchased SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and co-owns Universal Orlando, holds a majority stake in Merlin.
Last June, we reported rumors of Legoland possibly coming to Central Florida. Some Legoland visitors took a Legoland online survey which asked their thoughts about visiting Legoland Florida if it were to be built. It also asked what they thought about Legoland being built where Cypress Gardens is located.
Cypress Gardens closed last September after a months-long closing and removing all of their rides, then reopening with just the gardens and ski show.
A press conference has been scheduled for next Thursday to discuss the sale. The Stars of Florida Waterski Show Web site also lists Jan. 21 as an important date, stating “Check back to this website for news on Cypress Gardens! Jan. 21st could be a big day!”
The owners of Cypress Gardens announced today that the park and Splash Island Waterpark have closed. The park closed last fall for five months then reopened earlier this year without its many amusement rides. Since the end of March, it has operated with just its water park, gardens and ski show.
Here’s the owner’s statement regarding the closing and possible sale.
From the earliest moment that our firm purchased Cypress Gardens and Splash Island Waterpark, our highest priority has always been to maintain the park’s beauty and protect its proud traditions as a mainstay of the state’s history and natural treasures. It is with these ideals in mind that we must announce that the park will be closed for business as of Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009.
During the last two years, Land South Adventures, LLC, has explored numerous management frameworks and exhausted every possible approach to keep the park running in its traditional form. Now we are in the process of negotiating with several potential purchasers and lessees for all or part of the property, and do not feel it is fair to our employees, the guests or the public to continue operations heading into the fall with the future of the property in flux.
We are optimistic that the outcome will be in the best interests of both the park and the residents of Polk County and the State of Florida.
Here’s what’s happening around the tourist areas of Central Florida for July 4 this year.
“Celebrate America Fireworks” will fill the sky at 9 pm. July 4 (guests who’d like to begin the celebratory weekend a day early can enjoy the special fireworks on July 3 at 9 p.m.). After the fireworks, guests can enjoy a performance of Disney’s “SpectroMagic” parade of lights, music and magic at 10:30 p.m. on July 3 and 4.
Special fireworks will be presented at 10 p.m. on July 4. Fantasmic! will also be performed at 9 p.m. and 10:45 p.m.
“IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” becomes more dynamic on July 4 as the normal show is supplemented with a patriotic finale. The performance begins at 10 p.m.
On July 3, SeaWorld will feature a special tribute performance by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne All-American Chorus and dazzling fireworks display. The celebration continues July 4 with a patriotic presentation of red, white and blue fireworks immediately following the new fountain and fireworks finale – “Reflections.”
The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famers the O’Jays will perform at 9 p.m. as the last of Universal’s Summer Concert Series. After the concert, guests can enjoy a special Fourth of July version of Universal 360: A Cinesphere Spectacular – a high-tech lagoon show featuring famous scenes from more than 100 Universal Pictures films projected on four-story-tall, 360-degree “cinespheres,” along with original music, lasers and pyrotechnic effects.
Cypress Gardens will hold a special “Nighttime Ski Show” at 8:45 p.m. The Fletcher Cane Band will play at The Lakeside Stage from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Fireworks on the Lake will immediately follow the ski show at 9:15 p.m.
See David Cassidy in concert on July 3 and Starship on July 4. Each night’s concert starts at 8 p.m. and will be followed by a fireworks presentation at 9:30 p.m.
The town of Celebration will be holding a Flashback Forth of July Tribute to the ’70s. The event begins at 5 p.m. and the ’70s themed fireworks show will get under way at 9:30 p.m. The Reflections Band will perform starting at 6 p.m. A KidZone will be set up and additional music will be offered by The Dixieland Jazz Band. There will also be a ’70s Costume Contest at 7:30 p.m.
Live music begins at 3 p.m. with Jimmy Buffett tribute band “Live Bait”. Then ’60s pop artist The Lovin Spoon and award winning country music staple Terri Clark will eluminate the Twin Oaks Mansion concert stage. Fireworks will take place after the concerts.
Holy Land Experience
A special July 4th concert will be held 7:15 to 8 p.m. with Grammy Award-winning Inspirational artist Larnelle Harris.
Cypress Gardens is on track to reopen this Saturday, March 28 and will operate its new Splash Island Water Park through the season ending Oct. 18. The park closed late last year and has removed all of the rides, choosing to concentrate on their gardens and water park.
“You will see many changes and improvements with more to come,” Bill Sims, Cypress Gardens’ new operations director said. “Remember, we’re a work in a progress.”
Cypress Gardens, which idled about 200 full- and part-time employees when it closed in November, has since rehired more than 90 and plans to eventually have a staff of 150 during the peak season. Sims said Cypress Gardens is better positioned with its new model. He said the park was smart to remove its rides because of upkeep costs and intense competition from similar attractions in Orlando.
The future of some Cypress Gardens attractions is still unclear. The water ski show will return for opening day but additional performances will likely depend on traffic and demand, Sims said. The boat tours are scheduled to resume in the “near future,” and concerts and seasonal festivals have been announced with few specifics.
In any event, county tourism director Mark Jackson said Cypress Gardens’ return will be a boon during a weak economy. ”Leisure travel has really taken a hit with the economic climate being the way it is,” Jackson said. “The Gardens is vitally important.”
Daily tickets for Cypress Gardens will run $12.95 for adults and $9.95 for young children and seniors.
Daily tickets for Splash Island will be $23.95 each for ages 10 to 59 and $17.95 for children ages 3 to 9 and seniors 60 and older.
Tickets for both attractions will cost $29.95 for adults and $22.95 for children and seniors.
Annual passes will cost $49.95 for Splash Island and $39.95 for Cypress Gardens. A combined pass for the 2009 water park season and 12-month access to Cypress Gardens will be offered at $69.95.
Current Season Pass holders will receive an extended expiration date to offset time lost to the park’s seasonal shutdown in November. Cypress Gardens is not offering refunds for customers upset at the removal of rides.
Splash Island will primarily be open on weekends, but will operate weekdays during June, July and August.
Cypress Gardens, the small Winter Haven attraction built on botanical gardens and Southern Belles, has announced the new management that will reopen the shuttered park this spring.
Bill Sims, a long-time veteran of the Florida tourism industry, will manage the park, which is scheduled to open March 28. Cypress Gardens closed in the fall, promising to reopen with a renewed focus on its historic gardens and a relatively new water park that has been popular with locals. It is eliminating its carnival rides and roller coasters, as well as a zoo area.
He said Cypress Gardens will focus on quality and value – and will cut its ticket prices by about 40 percent. The Park will also offer a separate, less expensive admission for people who just want to visit the gardens.
As for the park’s furloughed workers, Sims said a portion of them will be recalled, although he could not offer a specific employment figure. Season pass holders will receive an extra four months beyond their expiration date, to make up for the months the park was closed, Sims said.
When Cypress Gardens announced in November that they were closing down for nearly five months while they retool the park, Silver Springs announced that Cypress Gardens passholders could have free admission to their Festival of Lights. Now that the festival is over, two more local attractions have stepped up.
Fantasy of Flight and Bok Tower Gardens recently announced that they will honor annual passes issued by Cypress Gardens. The attractions will honor all valid annual passes until their date of expiration.
Additionally, Cypress Gardens annual pass holders will receive $5 off any level of membership to Fantasy of Flight and/or Bok Tower Gardens. Bok Tower Gardens will also honor unexpired complimentary one-time passes to Cypress Gardens. These offers are not valid with any other promotions, coupons or offers. To learn more, visit fantasyofflight.com and boktowergardens.org.
Silver Springs General Manager Terry Turner and Cypress Garden’s Co-Owner Rob Harper have announced that Cypress Garden’s season passholders will receive free admission to Silver Springs during their Festival of Lights.
Silver Springs 16th annual Festival of Lights runs Dec. 5 and 6, 12 to 24, and 26 and 27. Cypress Gardens passholders, during the Festival of Lights, will also be able to visit the Traveling Vietnam Vets Wall on Dec. 5, 6 and 7 and attend three concerts: Diamond Rio on Dec. 6, The Temptations featuring Dennis Edwards on Dec. 12, and Ronnie Milsap on Dec. 20.
Cypress Gardens is closed until March 2009 as they revamp the offerings at the park. (Click here for more info.)
“We continue to formulate a program for our season passholders, and feel this opportunity at Silver Springs is an immediate benefit for the holiday season,” Cypress Gardens co-owner Harper stated.
Click here to visit our Silver Springs Photo Gallery.
You can flip through and preview the entire issue here before you buy it.
Features included in this fun new issue are:
• Chill out in Orlando with ICE!
Holiday fun at the Gaylord Palms Resort.
• 21st Century Christmas
How Disney keeps its holidays up-to-date.
• A’Lure – The Call of the Ocean
A photo feature.
• Piano Man
Bob Jackson thrills audiences with his piano-playing antics.
Disney fans have nothing but options when starting a collection.
• Behind the Scenes of Disney’s Ambassador Program
A 44-year tradition (started by Walt himself) offers fun – and a lot of work.
• A Taste of Winter Inside – No Matter the Forecast Outside
Icebar Orlando officially opens.
• RESTAURANT REPORT: T-Rex at Downtown Disney
• RESORT REPORT – Gaylord Palms Resort
…and much more!
Cypress Gardens is offering $10 admission per person, per day today, Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 14-16, 2008). All Cypress Gardens logo merchandise will be 75 percent off with everything else priced at 50 percent off throughout the weekend. As previously reported, this is your last opportunity to enjoy the rides and Nature’s Way sections of the park before they are closed.
At 10 a.m. on Sunday, park guests can stroll through the Gardens’ Splash Island water park and see over a hundred corvette models ranging from 1953 to 2008. Guests will also be able to enjoy some of the biggest hits of the ’50s and ’60s in the amphitheater starting with the Coasters at 1 p.m. and the Original Drifters at 3:30 p.m.
After months of exhaustive analysis by park officials and owners, Cypress Gardens will temporarily close on Monday, Nov. 17, for a major renovation. With a reopening scheduled for March of 2009, the plans include expanding the water park while preserving the history and nostalgia of the original park, with a focus on the original botanical gardens.
The ski show shall continue as part of the original park experience. The existing animal area and the ride area will be permanently closed. “The operating expense of running 38 amusement rides, a zoo, the botanical gardens, a ski show, and a water park are considerable,” said Cypress Gardens co-owner Rob Harper. “It is obvious the park cannot successfully function as four parks in one. We have some exciting new plans that everyone will be thrilled to see come March,” Harper added.
To finish planning for the future of the park and renovate the grounds prior to the March 2009 reopening, Cypress Gardens will complete its last full day of operations on Sunday, Nov. 16.
“We are in the process of notifying our employees. The vast majority of them will be temporarily without work at the park during the renovations, and those eligible will be reinstated when renovations are complete,” Harper said.
The renovation plans for the park are centered around the core elements that have made Cypress Gardens famous around the world, while simultaneously making it a sustainable long-term success. According to Brian Philpot, Harper’s business partner, the key is ensuring that the integrity of the original Cypress Gardens is not compromised by non-original and non-essential elements. “The last thing we want to do is jeopardize the history and long-term future of this storied park with elements that do not promote what made Cypress Gardens what it is today – a beautiful botanical garden for enjoyment by all ages,” said Harper. The goal is to add a modern flair to a timeless classic, Harper added.
Planned changes include adding a parking area and moving the main entrance back to where it was when the gardens first opened. The new parking area will provide convenient access for visitors to the water park and gardens. Visitors had complained about the long three-fourth-mile walk from the current parking lot through the ride area to the water park and botanical gardens.
Among other changes come March 2009 are new cultural components showcasing the history of Cypress Gardens. These changes will make the visitor experience much more enjoyable. “Rob Harper and Brian Philpot are doing the right thing with these plans and we look forward to helping them along the way,” said Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing Director, Mark Jackson. “Polk County benefits greatly from the thousands of visitors that come to Cypress Gardens each year and this move will ensure the long-term sustainability of one of Polk County’s largest tourism assets.”
Harper stated that is has been a difficult decision to temporarily close for the renovations because the park didn’t want to cause any inconvenience to its employees or guests, however, in the long term, this approach is best for all
involved. “We regret any inconvenience this may bring to our employees and many guests, and ask for their patience and understanding as these changes are necessary for the sustained long-term success of the park. More information will be available for our pass holders in the weeks ahead and ask that they check our Web site in coming weeks. We are excited about the future of Cypress Gardens, and look forward to an improved guest experience,” he said.
More information and updates will be available periodically on the park’s Web site, cypressgardens.com as the renovations progress.
Cypress Gardens has decided to take the “not so scary” approach to Halloween this year by offering a kid friendly Fall Festival this Friday and Saturday. Children 9 and under will receive free admission after 3 p.m. and free ice cream if they come in costume (no masks). Adults will receive admission for $15 after 3 on Friday only.
There will be trick-or-treating on Friday from 4 to 9 p.m. and on Satuday from 4 to 6 p.m. On Friday, Natures Way will be having trick or treating for the animals. This allows the guests to watch the animals be fed pumpkin by the animal handlers. Normally, the animals are fed before or after park hours. The times for this are 11:30 a.m. (Jaguar and Wallabies) and 3:30 p.m. (Goats, Lemurs and Tortoises).
For those a bit daring, venture out on the Magnolia Mansion and Plantation Gardens Haunted Tour or visit the “Boo House” in Jubilee Junction.
Live entertainment is also on the agenda. Catch street performances in Jubilee Junction at various times on both days. In “Bad Bob the Bone Butcher,” Bad Bob the Bone Butcher comes back from the grave and it’s the deputy’s bones that the Butcher Man craves! Don’t miss the hilarious Halloween high-jinks at “ShenaniGuns! Comedy Wild West Show!” The silly scalawags of Cypress Cove get a slapstick scare when the hidden treasure they seek turns out to be haunted in “The Haunted Treasure of Cypress Cove”!
Cypress Gardens will host Footin’ Fever, a barefoot endurance competition starting at 8 a.m. this Saturday. Competitors will go head-to-head around the Cypress Gardens show circle on Lake Eloise. Two competitors will go at a time and the first competitor to fall will be eliminated.
The entry fee for competitors is $50 and includes free parking in the main parking lot, entry to Cypress Gardens, a T-shirt and a cook-out following the competition. If you think you have what it takes to stay upright, skiers may register beginning at 7 a.m. at the Cypress Gardens main entrance. An awards ceremony will be held directly following the last ski show of the day. All USA Water Ski members must bring their membership cards. Depending on entries received, the competition could be extended to Sunday, Oct 26, to finish final rounds.
Small town southern boy Billy Currington will be performing his list of country hits at Cypress Gardens tomorrow starting at 7:30 p.m. The concert is included with park admission.
Currington’s southern country sound has been described as “blues tinged” and “soulful.” Although Currington started writing songs and playing the guitar as a teenager, his debut CD didn’t hit the shelves until 2003. His second album, “Doin’ Somethin’ Right” achieved the number two spot on the Billboard’s Current Country Albums Chart after being release in 2005. “Walk a Little Straighter,” “I Got a Feelin’,” “Party for Two,” and “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right,” are some of his hits. In 2006 “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” won the “Hottest Video of the Year” award from the fan-voted, CMT Music Awards. He is slated to release a new album this Fall.
A huge accomplishment for Currington was being chosen to record “Party of Two” with country star Shania Twain. Other bragging rights include being named one of the 20 Sexiest Southern Men by CMT, one of Nashville’s “25 Most Beautiful People” by Nashville Lifestyles’ magazine (which he has also graced the cover of), an “On the Verge” artist by USA Today and has also appeared in People’s “Sexiest Man Issue.”
Guests are invited to bring their lawn chairs or enjoy complimentary bench seating. Reserved seating is also available for $10, $15 and $25 but does not include park admission, which must be purchased separately. Guests can order both reserved seats and park admission online by visiting www.cypressgardens.com or by calling 863- 324-2111, option 2.