Cypress Gardens

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New in 2005 ~ Cypress Gardens Adventure Park

Mar 7, 2005 (Updated Jun 19, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Relaxing, different, beautiful

Cons:Located in an odd place, not for rainy days.

The Bottom Line: Enjoyable way to spend a day. There's plenty of fun things for the whole family to enjoy.


I have spring fever so have been looking for some new fun things to do. A different theme park adventure sounded like fun so I started researching parks in other states. Imagine my surprise to find a new theme park in my home state! I could not believe my eyes when I ran across an advertisement for Cypress Gardens Adventure Park in Winter Haven, Florida. I have heard excellent things about Cypress Gardens in the past but knew that they had gone out of business in 2003. I took a look at their website and found that they had reopened as an adventure park December 19th, 2004 with plenty of things to do.

The park opens at 10AM in the morning and closing times vary depending on the day and season. A person could easily spend a full day at the park but I don’t think open to close is necessary, at least not until the rest of the park is completed. We were there for half of the day and we were exhausted when we left. We had done a lot of things but there were still plenty more to do. The park is closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas day.

Ticket prices are $34.99 tax for ages 10-55 years old. Ages 3-9 years old and 56 are 29.95 tax. They offer a second day free which can be used within 6 days which makes for a great value. My thought on this is this theme park is located in a small town so where would you stay and what else would you do while you were there? The park is more than an hour away from big cities such as Orlando or Tampa. We enjoyed the drive, it seemed quick and there wasn’t any traffic. It is located off of US 27 South of I-4.

This park requires guests to go through a metal detector and a bag check before entering. There is a dress code that you may not be aware of. The park wants to accommodate families with children so guests will not be allowed in if they have profanity or something offensive on their shirt. Swimwear is not allowed unless there is a shirt or cover-up over it (unless in the water park). Offensive tattoos are not allowed to be visible either.

The park charges $7 for parking or $25 for a year parking pass which can be paid by cash or credit card at the gate. The parking is a long lot with transportation that drives visitors up to the gate. Parking was full when we arrived at noon so we had to park in the overflow grass lot that had not been cleaned out yet. We were not very happy about the parking arrangements and there was no communication or signs about how to get to and from your car.

The parking lot was maxed out however the park was relatively empty. A lot of the visitors were there to see the Smother Brothers live. Three minutes was the longest that we waited for any of the rides that we went on. I suppose the rides are never very long because there is a very short waiting area for the rides.

There are 38 rides in Adventure Grove to choose from. There is a selection of children’s rides in which only the child will fit on. There are a few roller coasters, and some crazy teen and older rides that you couldn’t pay me to get on. There were two water rides that looked sensational but we weren’t prepared to get wet this time. Cypress Gardens is in the process of building a water park that will be opening in the summer of 2005. The rides weren’t up yet but they had things planned out and started already.

Our first ride was on the little train. You can get off of the train on the other side of Adventure Grove if you prefer. We went on a double decker carousel which had a photographer taking pictures of the kids. We made the mistake of going on the Ferris wheel, we were all scared when we got up there. The rides are all brand new and unique. They were the types of rides that you would see at a carnival or state fair. The kids really had a good time on the rides that we went on and wanted to come back again.

There are 19 concerts already scheduled from now to July 16th. We bought our season pass under the pretense that even if we didn’t enjoy the park we would go just to see the entertainment. Some of the individuals that we plan on seeing are: Sawyer Brown, Travis Tritt, Lonestar, Styx, Diamond Rio, and Vince Gill. There are others also booked; the full list can be found at: http://cypressgardens.com/concerts.asp

The concerts are held in an outdoor amphitheater. A lot of people were bringing their own folding chairs for the concert. The amphitheater is in the front of the park so entry and exiting will be easy if that’s the reason you’re going to the park.

We missed all of the performances on this trip because we were riding rides and exploring the park which just goes to show that you could easily spend a full day or more at this park. The animal show, comedy show, and 3-D Laser and fireworks show have not opened yet. They say “coming soon” on the map. We saw some of the live musical performances. There is a gazebo in the front which has a park singer performing. It adds to the atmosphere. A lot of people were gathered around relaxing and enjoying the music. The ones that I heard were singing country music. We saw a part of the Wild West Shenani-guns which was a skit. Seating was limited and full during the times we were there. I’ll have to update this as I see the shows but there are three more shows that we look forward to seeing on our next visit: Cypress Gardens on Ice, Ski Show Spectacular, and the Farmyard Frolics comedy show.

There are areas being constructed for animals which will be arriving in the future. These will complement the park rather than being a main attraction. There was nothing in Nature's Way yet. They had a very long deck walk path that lead out to the lake which looked brand new. There were areas along the deck that looked like they were setting up for the animals.

Wings of Wonder was one of my favorites. There is a Butterfly Arboretum and a beautiful butterfly exhibit of all the butterflies and other insects in their family.

Another beautiful part of the park was the Botanical Gardens which was a major part of the previous park. There is a nice walk path through the gardens with a lovely view of the lake. There are benches along the way to relax and enjoy the scenery. The landscape is just beautiful and there is a large selection of trees, the greenest grass, exotic flowers, and topiaries. It is undeniably beautiful.

There wasn’t many choices in selection of foods. The majority was outside fast food and ranged from $6-$9 a platter. There were a couple indoor air conditioned sit down areas. There were selections of hamburger, chicken strips, BBQ, pizza (coming soon), and lots of ice cream. I was very impressed with the taste of their food. We split a chicken tenders and French fries platter for $7. It was a large enough serving that we shared it for a snack. We also got a raspberry smoothie in a collector cup. The collector cup can be refilled with coke or a smoothie at a discounted price. There were many places to get ice cream however we changed our mind and had fudge from the fudge shop which was heavenly.

I was really impressed with the little trinket stores that they had. All of the items were unique and most items were reasonably priced. My youngest daughter likes hat so we found a straw hat for $3.00 and my other daughter’s sandal broke so we were lucky to have found a large selection of flip flops in the Surf Shop. The flip flops were a bit overpriced at $10 but she loved them and at least we didn’t have to leave the park. There were common things sold in the stores like sunglasses, sun lotion, hats, bags, t-shirts, film, and trinkets. There were also little shops off of the attractions that sold items that matched the theme such as the Christmas shop or the butterfly shop.

This is an outdoor park so there would be nothing to do at this park if it rained or was too cold to be outside. The large nearby theme parks have indoor rides and exhibits to entertain guests during the short time that it rains but this park does not have any indoor activities at all. Furthermore, there are not a lot of air conditioned activities either.

The tickets are very reasonably priced I think, especially with a second day for free. I would not be surprised if the prices went up when the rest of the park is completed. Our family is pretty hard to please and we had a really nice time. We went in with the idea that it would probably be lame but we were pleasantly surprised. The park is obviously not finished yet because many of the attractions are not open yet. I imagine it will be done by summer 2005 because most things are in place. I think it is turning into a very nice park.

Everyone that we saw was really enjoying themselves. I loved how relaxing the park was. The landscaping is excellent and the park is beautiful and clean. The rides are colorful and new but they seemed to be placed a little too close to each other. We saw a high number of the over 50 crowd and they were all enjoying themselves. We will definitely be going here when the grandparents come down because it’s a wonderful relaxing place to spend together. There were also families with younger children who were enjoying the rides in the park. The short lines make rides more enjoyable and there is a nice selection for all ages.

The whole park is arranged near Lake Eloise which is a large natural lake. It really adds to the atmosphere and also enables the park to offer more things such as a ski show, more appeal to the Botanical Gardens, a ferry line (which is not open yet), and more animals (which are not in place yet). It will be interesting to see what happens to this new adventure park. They have a really nice park but it is pretty far off of the beaten path and they lack the advertising that a tourist attraction requires. This does benefit those who do know about it because the day is so much more enjoyable without the crowds. I walked directly on the roller coasters with no wait whatsoever. The park was large enough in space and attractions to have a lot of people inside but there is not enough parking or room for lines to accommodate folks. It is obvious that a lot of money was invested in this park, it’s absolutely beautiful.

Cypress Gardens
6000 Cypress Gardens Blvd.
Winter Haven, FL 33884
Phone: (863) 324-2111
Website: www.cypressgardens.com


Recommend this product? Yes

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