Cypress Gardens, Florida’s original theme park, originally opened on January 2, 1936. After providing 65 years of fun-filled memories for tourists and local citizens, it closed April 13, 2003. This popular vacation destination was bought by new owners and reopened Dec. 9, 2004, much to everyone's delight.
The 35-acre park has a variety of activities to keep visitors busy. There are the beautiful historic gardens where you might see beautiful southern belles strolling in their hoop-skirted dresses. Enjoy a different view by taking one of the Botanical Garden cruises. First introduced in 1938, these boat tours will take you through the cypress swamps and lakes surrounding the park.
You may enjoy spending time in Wings of Wonder, a delightful butterfly arboretum; watching the water ski shows, featuring a human pyramid, or graceful ice show.
Nature’s Way is home to more than 150 animals, including Tarzan, a 75-year-old alligator that once starred alongside Johnny Weissmueller in the “Tarzan” movies. There are also reptiles, mammals and a variety of birds. This area has been reopened after months of redesign and refurbishment. Many buildings were completely rebuilt and several new structures were added.
If you're hungry, head on over to Jubilee Junction where you can choose from several restaurants or snack stands. Jubilee Junction is a quaint village that has been built with a Victorian look. There are also shops with names like Tan Yer Hide leather shop, Crepe Myrtle Candle Company and Longwing's Emporium from which you can buy a variety of merchandise.
If you enjoy something more thrilling, Adventure Grove has five roller coasters with a sixth opening this year (2007) and 40 rides. There are heart-stopping, jaw-dropping rides and easier rides for children, a big and colorful carousel and a train ride that will take you all around Adventure Grove.
There are special events throughout the year, including Christmas Wonderland during which the grounds are decorated for the holidays and special music programs are held; Beaus and Arrows, a four-day wedding-vow renewal event, which includes cake and a reception each day; and Blooms and Blossoms, a flower and garden show that includes demonstrations on water gardens, container gardening, landscaping, lawn care, fern care, topiaries and other gardening topics.
Cypress Gardens also hosts some great concerts, especially for us "vintage" folks. Concerts this winter include Charlie Pride; Bobby Vinton; Trace Adkins; Willie Nelson; Tommy James & The Shondells; Diamond Rio; a Hippie Fest, featuring Iron Butterfly, Melanie, Country Joe McDonald, The Rascals, Eric Burden & the Animals and Badfinger, as well as singers from the Hollies and the Moody Blues; Riders In The Sky; Tracy Lawrence and Tracy Byrd; Loretta Lynn; Neil Sedaka; and Sara Evans.
Cypress Gardens is a fabulous place to visit all year-round but especially so in the winter, when temperatures are a bit cooler.