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Memories and Photos of the Former Spectacular Cypress Gardens in Florida

The southern states have a charm all their own. From beaches to deserts, there is a wide array of landscapes to please almost anyone!

Cypress Gardens

This post will show many pictures of the beautiful Cypress Gardens in Florida that my mother and I enjoyed one year while on vacation.

We were making our way to Florida from Houston to visit my aunt and uncle and did some sightseeing along the way. After leaving Tarpon Springs, "the sponge capital of the world," a fascinating Greek-influenced town in Florida, we decided that we had enough time to visit the renowned and beautiful tourist site before arriving at my aunt and uncle's home.

Cypress Gardens opened in 1936, and my grandparents, along with many other people, visited it often through the years. It was the oldest operating tourist attraction in Florida—a state filled to the brim with other tourist attractions.

Dick and Julie Pope were the founders and owners for many years until they sold it in 1985. Julie had a "green thumb," and with her involvement, over 8,000 varieties of plants were showcased in this scenic garden with waterways and cypress trees adorning this distinctive piece of land.

In 1938 electric boats were added to take the touring visitors through the gardens via this mode of transportation. The water ski shows became a part of this evolving attraction in 1943. When my mother and I saw it in March of 1998, Ski Xtreme had water skiers forming a human pyramid culminating the performance. Every type of acrobatic showmanship, including jumps off a ramp and other fast-moving entertainment, made for a delightful and memorable water show.

Southern Bells

Young girls adorned like Southern Bells in hoop-skirted colorful dresses graced the gardens adding even more pizazz to the beautiful sight.

Other young women could rent these hoop dresses in all types of colors for photo opportunities, and we saw several families taking pictures of their young daughters dressed in this attire.

Hoop skirted young ladies roam the grounds

Hoop skirted young ladies roam the grounds

Topiary in the Gardens

Besides the botanical gardens, topiary elements were cultivated and punctuate the landscape with fantastic shapes. Topiary is a gardening art form that takes plenty of tending and constant pruning to keep the desired characters in shape.

The topiary forms we saw included cute teddy bear shapes, a horse-drawn carriage in which people could sit for photos, and a hoop skirted woman made to look like she was standing outside near a waterway painting a canvas. These are just a small example of the many topiaries that graced the grounds when we were visiting.

Animals at Cypress Gardens

A small zoo was also a part of these gardens when we visited there.

One of the pictures that I took was of an animal called a Capybara. This fascinating creature lives typically in marshes and swamps or wooded areas near water in Central and South America. Their diet consists of eating aquatic plants, grains, and fruits. They can weigh from 60 to 110 pounds when fully grown.

Another photo was of the Patagonian Cavy. These are rodents that live in the dry grasslands of southern South America. They live on raw vegetables, hay, and green matter. They get to be 2 1/2 feet long and nest in burrows. Rapid runners, they can also leap up to 6 feet in the air.

I took some photos of other birds and animals as well.

Changes Take Place

When the Pope family sold Cypress Gardens in 1985, things began to change. Slowly carnival and adventure rides, including things like roller coasters, were added. A paddlewheel boat joined the scene in 1999. Splash Island, which was a water park, was added.

After September 11th, our modern "day of infamy" in the United States, the park was running such a large deficit that it had to be closed.

Today Cypress Gardens has pretty much gone back to its roots. What is featured once again are the spectacular gardens. The water park called Splash Island continues to operate, and one can pay separate admission charges to see one or the other.

The adventure rides are being sold off, and the zoo animals relocated into other good homes. That is an ongoing project as of the date of this post. The water ski show will continue to be an attraction according to what I have read, but the human pyramid will no longer be a part of the show for cost-cutting economic reasons.

I believe that eliminating all of those rides and keeping the gardens' quiet beauty as the focus will serve it best in the long run. People can go elsewhere to enjoy an amusement park atmosphere. I am happy that my grandparents saw it many years ago and that my mother and I got to see it in almost the same condition that many decades later.

Update

Cypress Gardens is now forever closed, and LegoLand takes its place.

I hope that you enjoyed these pictures of what these beautiful gardens used to look like in Florida. The physical site itself is pretty, and there are still gardens, but strolling through them will no longer be the same type of experience. It is like the passing of an era!

Cypress Gardens (now Legoland) near Winter Haven, Florida

Sources:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 18, 2013:

Hello virtualit,

So glad that you enjoyed these photos of what used to be the Cypress Gardens in Florida. Thanks for your comment.

Abdus Salam from Bangladesh on May 17, 2013:

lovely place and beautiful picture. thanks for sharing...

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 17, 2013:

Hi Indian Chef,

I am so happy that I got to experience Cypress Gardens as it used to be with my mother...and as my grandparents also saw it. Nice to be able to share it with you. The Budda statue and its reflection in the water was beautiful. Thanks for your vote + share.

Indian Chef from New Delhi India on May 17, 2013:

Very beautiful pics. I really loved the picture of horse carriage. That was so beautiful and I also didn't expect the statue of Buddha there and that too so big. Voting up and sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 27, 2012:

Hi Linda F,

Too bad that you do not have that picture of Cypress Gardens that once belonged to your parents of which you so admired. At least you have your memories of it! Thanks for your comment.

Linda F. on June 27, 2012:

Thanks for the lovely pictures and the trip down memory lane. My parents had a huge framed picture on pasteboard of the lovely gardens (about 3 x 4 feet) that I used to gaze at and imagine myself there. Wish she would have asked me if I wanted it before she got rid of it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 02, 2011:

Hello East Texas Girl,

Nice that you also have pictures and memories of the beautiful Cypress Gardens. Thanks for your comment.

Shana from East Texas on December 02, 2011:

I went to the Cypress Gardens 30 years ago and have a picture of that same view.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 02, 2011:

Hi RTalloni,

I am thankful that several generations of my family got to see the beautiful Cypress Gardens as it existed for years. Sad to know that it is now gone. At least we can still share pictures of what it used to look like. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 02, 2011:

Hi Ann,

No, I did not know that it had closed and is now a Lego Land. What a shame! The passing of an era that will be long remembered!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 02, 2011:

Hello Kris Heeter,

They had many of those topiaries at Cypress Gardens which added to the beauty of the place. Glad that you enjoyed these photos. Thanks for your comment.

RTalloni on December 02, 2011:

When this popped up it brought back a lot of memories--thanks for sharing. My what changes over the years!

anndavis25 from Clearwater, Fl. on December 02, 2011:

Hi Peggy, I am glad I saved all my pictures of CG. Did you know it closed? It is now the home of Lego Land. It just opened last month. We used to visit once a year and sure going to miss it.

Kris Heeter from Indiana on December 02, 2011:

I love the topiary elements - those always fascinate me. Beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 08, 2011:

Hello LeroyShane,

Thanks for your brief but complimentary comment on this hub about pictures of the beautiful Cypress Gardens in Florida. :-)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 23, 2011:

Hello simon64,

Glad to hear that you enjoyed the pictures of Cypress Gardens in Florida and thanks for the comment.

simon64 from UK on February 23, 2011:

Great Hub. The pictures are just stunning!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 03, 2010:

Hi Micky,

You are certainly busy reading a bunch of my hubs! Glad you liked this one about Cypress Gardens in Florida. I enjoyed myself taking the pictures and strolling the grounds with my mother. Thanks for the comment.

Micky Dee on December 03, 2010:

It's another wonderful travel hub! The pictures and descriptions with the videos make a fantastic hub. You are just incredible!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 26, 2010:

Hello minutecreature,

So happy to hear that you enjoyed reading this hub about the beautiful Cypress Gardens in Florida. I had a lot of fun taking pictures...and that pre-dated the common use of digital cameras! I would have a heyday now! Thanks for the nice comment.

minutecreature on November 25, 2010:

Hi Peggy, I really love your posts. They are very informative and nice to read. God bless and more power!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 14, 2010:

Hello Florida Collection Agency,

If you live in Florida (which I am assuming from the name of your business that you do) you MUST visit the Cypress Gardens! They are truly amazing and so beautiful. Thanks for the comment.

Florida Collection Agency on September 14, 2010:

Amazing pictures. I can't believe this place exists. I have to make it there soon.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 23, 2010:

Hello sdp,

Thanks for adding this information regarding the beautiful Cypress Gardens in Florida. You were fortunate in living nearby to such a pretty site.

sdp on July 23, 2010:

I grew up in Lakeland, just beside Winter Haven, and have been to Cypress Gardens countless times. I have pictures from the 70s of myself near or beside these landmarks. Don't forget the swimming pool shaped the state of Florida. The boat ride took you up beside it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 02, 2010:

Hello Property-Invest,

Thanks for appreciating and commenting on this Cypress Gardens, Florida hub.

Property-Invest from London on July 02, 2010:

This is a really stunning hub, thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 26, 2010:

Hello annmeadows,

Hope that you enjoy the beautiful Cypress Gardens as much as my mother and I did when we were visiting in Florida. Thanks for the nice comment.

annmeadows from Mobile, Al. on June 26, 2010:

Peggy, I've got to visit this place on my trip through Florida. Thanks for all the beautiful pictures and rich content.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 05, 2010:

Hi Dawn Goodrich,

So very happy that you liked these pictures of the beautiful Cypress Gardens in Florida. You certainly live in a pretty State of the Union! Thanks for the very nice comment.

Dawn Goodrich on June 04, 2010:

Very nice pictures. Thank you so much.

We are from Florida. This brings us back to our roots

and makes us proud to see.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2010:

Hello Journey*,

Glad that you liked them. Cypress Gardens is so beautiful that it would be hard not to get good photos in that scenic part of Florida. Thanks for stopping by.

Nyesha Pagnou MPH from USA on February 11, 2010:

Hi Peggy W, these photos are lovely! Thanks for sharing with us.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2010:

Greetings blpelton,

Happy to hear that you enjoyed the photos of Florida's Cypress Gardens. Thanks for leaving a comment.

blpelton on February 11, 2010:

great journey loved the pix! great hub! THX 4 sharing!!!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 29, 2010:

Hello My Digest,

So happy that you enjoyed this hub about the beautiful Cypress Gardens in Florida. Going over to your site now to see if you have written any articles about gardens. Thanks for the comment.

My Digest on January 29, 2010:

I love gardens and I enjoy gardens and breathe gardens...LOL thank you for this beautiful hub!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 22, 2009:

Hello loveroflife,

They have acres and acres of gorgeous garden scenery at Cypress Gardens in Florida. Not to worry! LOL

loveroflife on October 21, 2009:

Cypress Gardens is a beautiful attraction. Glad they were able to keep most of it available for viewing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 23, 2009:

Hi swathin2,

Hope you enjoy your outing at Cypress Gardens as much as we did. Thanks for the comment.

swathin2 on July 22, 2009:

the photos are really wonderful and pleasure to watch. i am going to make my next outing to this place

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 07, 2009:

Glad you liked them Scott. Enjoy your day also. Thanks for commenting.

scottaye73 from Michigan, USA on May 07, 2009:

Wow, this is gorgeous, I've always loved Florida. Thanks for showing these pictures and writing this hub! Have a great day. ~ Scott

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 03, 2009:

Hi Laila, Imagine having a place this beautiful in which to relax and unwind every day. A bit of paradise on earth! Thanks for commenting.

And, hello gpetrou85........thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 03, 2009:

Hi ripplemaker, Happy that you could enjoy this journey via my photos. I agree about nature being a wonderful place in which to bask and unwind. Thanks for commenting.

Laila Rajaratnam from India on May 03, 2009:

Wow..thanks for sharing these amazing photos!Yes,just keeping the quiet beauty of the gardens is a great idea as they are so relaxing and soothing to the mind!Thanks!

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on May 03, 2009:

Hey this is so cool. I love watching the photos and the well tended gardens and would definitely love to watch the shows including the acrobatics performed on water. Oooh, I would love that a lot! Nature is very soothing and calming and it would be a joy to bask in it. Thanks for sharing the photos you took Peggy W! :-)

gpetrou85 from greece on May 02, 2009:

very nice,good hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 02, 2009:

Hi frogyfish, Glad that this brought back some good memories for you. Writing about places that I have seen does the same for me. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

frogyfish from Central United States of America on May 01, 2009:

I visited Cypress Gardens as a young teen, and that day there were none of the 'workers' in uniform'. It is or should I say was a quiet beautiful place. Loved traveling with you!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 28, 2009:

Hi katyzzz, So happy you liked every square inch of it. Thanks for commenting.

katyzzz from Sydney, Australia on April 28, 2009:

What an exquisite journey you have taken us on. I loved every square inch of it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 20, 2009:

Hi kiran, Glad that you enjoyed this hub. Thanks for the comment.

Hello Birte, So many places in the U.S. and the world for that matter...it would be difficult (almost impossible) to see them all! That is one nice thing about hubpages. We can all learn from one another. Hope you get to see Cypress Gardens if you would like as well as other places high on your list of things to view. Thanks!

Hi Pete, Glad that this brought back memories for you of the water show. Did you get to see the human pyramid? That was an amazing sight! At least for those that will never be able to see it in the future....I have a photo of it in this hub. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

And....hello Dolores. I couldn't agree with you more about gardens being quiet places of beauty. Somehow roller coasters and gardens do not fit my idea of something that I would enjoy seeing blended together. Glad to read that they are getting rid of those rides. Thanks for reading this and leaving your comments.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on April 20, 2009:

Thanks for sharing the wonderful pics, Peggy. I think you are so right about getting rid of the rides, gardens should be places of quiet, except for birds and frogs etc. The topiary is out of this world especially the horse and carriage.

Pete Maida on April 20, 2009:

It is a beautiful place. I had forgotten about the water ski shows.

BirteEdwards on April 20, 2009:

Thanks Peggy for showing yet another side and place of the US that someone like me has not yet had the chance to see

kiran8 from Mangalore, India on April 20, 2009:

Wonderful pictures peggy, thanks a lot for the article and the pics :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 19, 2009:

Melody, Thanks for reading and my wish is that you get there and many other beautiful places in the world!

Hi K@ri, Where in Florida do your parents live? I've only seen parts of the west coast of Florida and some of the interior of the state. But from what I have experienced, Florida is a wonderland filled with attractions worth seeing. Intend to write more hubs regarding things we have experienced. Thanks again for commenting on this and many other hubs. Appreciate it. Enjoy your hubs as well.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on April 19, 2009:

Beautiful pictures Peggy! I can't believe there are people sitting in that horse and carriage! I never knew you could sit in topiary. The ground look lovely. My parents are in Florida, I'm going to have to see how far away they are from Cypress Gardens and Tarpon Springs!

Melody Lagrimas from Philippines on April 19, 2009:

Oh, wish I could go to this beautiful place, thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 19, 2009:

Hi G-Ma, The Butchart Gardens in Victoria are beautiful also. We also loved the ones in Vancouver equally well. Guess we simply like beautiful gardens where ever they happen to be! Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Merle Ann Johnson from NW in the land of the Free on April 19, 2009:

Awww that was great..Loved it sweetie...reminds me of The Butchart Gardens in Victoria Canada....I also was impressed with the water pictures, very nice..Thanks for sharing...G-Ma :O) Hugs

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