I really hoped that Cypress Gardens could make it. But even in the best economic climate it wouldn’t have been easy. So it was not a shock to learn today that the historic attraction has closed its doors. After a turbulent last few years, Cypress Gardens, which this year re-opened without the amusement rides, and its Splash Island water park are now possibly closed for good.
When Cypress Gardens evolved into a world renown tourist destination back in the 30s and 40s, the world was a different place. The star power of Esther Williams waned long ago and water skiing shows no longer pull in the crowds. The public is no longer so easily satisfied.
“The world is not the same today as it was 30 or 40 years ago,” Dantzler said. “Coming up with a model that works in today’s marketplace is a challenge.”
I actually think Cypress Gardens had a model that would work. But when Hurricane insurance didn’t pay out and the economy started to slow, it was just too difficult to keep the property afloat. They might have been able to overcome one of those, but both was too much.
Had central Florida taken another turn, perhaps with a successful Hollywood East industry, or with Lakeland or Winter Haven attracting a corporate world headquarters or two, Cypress Gardens could have used those as a platform to success. But those are what ifs and could’ve beens.
Those who track the Amusement Park Industry know Cypress Gardens is not alone in its troubles. Many regional parks are closed or having difficulty operating. Will they come back when the economy comes back? Those in the theme park industry remain hopeful that there will always be a demand for families to head out together for some quality time together at the park. How about you?