Cypress Gardens getting Geauga'd?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 12:54 PM

I don't start many new threads, but this concerns me. Over at a certain site that rhymes with Schmeamschmape, there are rumors that Cypress Gardens is going to be closed without warning -- possibly after the new year. The report seems to be corroborated by other unnamed sources.

The fear is that, as happened with Geauga Lake, the owners will, with no notice, pull the plug on the amusement rides. The park would then operate only as a waterpark.

I certainly hope this ain't so. I've only had the chance to get to CG once, but it is one of the most delightful parks (or places in general, for that matter) I've ever visited.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008 1:05 PM

See? It's all starting to make sense. (Not your rambling, the closure of GL :) )

This economy does not play well with smaller/family amusement parks. I wonder how places like GL and even CP made it through the depression and are/were still around today. Perhaps they weren't as developed then and didn't have a high an operating cost?

Or, maybe people hate amusement parks and only love waterparks now.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008 1:55 PM

That park sure has been a mixed bag of success and failure, and I'm not sure that the hurricane damage was the biggest problem. It still sounds to me like they're not sure what their market is.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008 2:18 PM

Josh, but if smaller/family parks don't do well in these circumstances, how do you explain the success of places like Waldameer, Knoebels and Holiday World the last couple of seasons? Two of those parks aren't even close to significant metropolitan areas (and Erie is stretching the definition).

I suspect CG's fortunes have always been much complicated by its proximity to Disney/Universal/Sea World/BGA. It must rely almost exclusively on the locals to succeed. So what happened to the locals? Is even a day trip to CG becoming unaffordable for the Kissimmee-St. Cloud crowd? Or are the new owners indulging in mismanagement?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008 5:08 PM

I guess we found a new word to add to the Coaster Junkie's Dictionary.

Geauga'd: verb; applies to amusment & water park combos: to close and sell off the amusment rides but keep the water park operating.

Add this one to the dictionary w/ X2'd, Gravy Buffet, and Credit Whoars.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008 10:17 PM

I was in Orlando a couple months ago, and didn't even know this park was there. I always thought it was in northern Florida. If someone that follows the industry doesn't know, I doubt the average tourist does.

I would've probably gone for an afternoon if I had known that it was just a short drive from Disney. I imagine others would do the same... it looks like a great park for families. Is this HRP syndrome all over again?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008 11:30 PM

The problem with CG is that it really is out of the way from the hotbed of tourists. Even Circus World/Boardwalk & Baseball was closer, and that ended badly.

It really is an attraction for locals (hence the waterparks and concert series). It also lacks a real identity, despite its storied past. It's either a poor man's Dollywood or a rich man's county fair. If the local-centric Wild Adventures folks out of Valdosta couldn't make it work, it's hard to see it thriving under less experienced ownership.

Last edited by Paris, Friday, November 7, 2008 7:52 PM
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008 11:44 PM

Just got an e-mail from the park tonight. This Sunday, $5 admission. Might end up down there just to make sure I get to see my Starliner once more....

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008 11:56 PM

I've heard lackluster reviews of Wild Adventures as well, but that park may be doing better simply because the nearest amusement/theme park (Magic Kingdom) is 190 miles away... not exactly a day trip. Residents of central Florida, on the other hand, have seven other major theme parks within an hour's drive, all of which are more attractive than a carnival in a nice setting.

A couple junior coasters aren't enough to keep locals from driving to Orlando, and certainly won't attract a significant amount of tourists (provided that they were aware that the park even existed).

Last edited by PhantomTails, Wednesday, November 5, 2008 11:57 PM
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Thursday, November 6, 2008 5:29 AM

Jeff said:
That park sure has been a mixed bag of success and failure, and I'm not sure that the hurricane damage was the biggest problem. It still sounds to me like they're not sure what their market is.

The hurricanes never dictated the park's success in recent times. That only made Kent Bueshner file bankruptcy to cover his losses from the insurance companies not coming through and paying the claims.

No reason why this park can't succeed considering it's not far from the I-4 highway which leads people from Orlando to Tampa. If they market the park correctly as a family park on the way from Busch to Disney or vice versa, they can make a go of this.

Regardless of what happens, the original gardens are state protected.

They need to market this park heavily in the Orlando and Tampa market with emphasis that they offer rides, waterpark, animals, famous ski show and concerts all included in one admission and it's half way between Busch Gardens and the Orlando parks.

Last edited by Chitown, Thursday, November 6, 2008 5:37 AM
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Thursday, November 6, 2008 9:06 AM

If they market the park correctly as a family park on the way from Busch to Disney or vice versa, they can make a go of this.

I've been thinking about this some, and I think part of the problem is how the "majors" have changed admission options for tourists.

About five years ago, give or take, Disney charged admission that scaled linearly by the number of days you used. There was a small discount for buying more days at once, but not a big deal. In that environment, the "sixth day" at Disney still cost more than a visit to Gatorland, or Cypress Gardens, or what-have-you, and so rather than go to Disney again, many families might choose to do something different.

Now, every major operator in the area offers some sort of ticket that after you buy the first 2-4 days or so, the remainder are essentially free. Disney's "days" are about $2 each after you buy 4. Busch's and Universal's are "free" after 2. At that point, there's a lot less incentive to drive an hour to some smaller, out-of-the-way kiddie park with flowers.

So, I think the tourists are pretty much out. Hell, I've been to Central Florida at least annually for the past five years, and I still haven't bothered to visit CG. If I'm not going, who's left?

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Sunday, November 9, 2008 12:56 AM

At that point, there's a lot less incentive to drive an hour to some smaller, out-of-the-way kiddie park with flowers.

So, I think the tourists are pretty much out. Hell, I've been to Central Florida at least annually for the past five years, and I still haven't bothered to visit CG. If I'm not going, who's left?

That's the thing, you make it sound like it's a second rate park with no appeal.

It's definitely more than a kiddie park with flowers. If you appreciate more than high thrills and enjoy a relaxed setting, this park fits the bill.

When you combine a bunch of flats including some thrilling ones, along with a classic wooden coaster along with the history of the gardens and ski show and then throw in a nice animal section and concerts, it really isn't something that tourists should just brush off.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008 1:53 PM

Perhaps they shouldn't, but apparently they are.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008 2:36 PM

I'd still like to know what was going on the day I was there back in February...

I got to the park shortly after it opened and got the first non-handicapped parking space in the first parking lot, an easy walk to the gate.

I spent almost all of my limited time on the midway, and saw very few other people in the park; just enough to make it worthwhile to run the wood coasters.

When it came time for me to leave (and almost miss my flight out of MCO, but that's another story, having to do mostly with the incompetence of TSA...) the front of the park was so jammed full of (mostly elderly) people that I could barely pick my way back to the entrance. I mean, the place was absolutely mobbed with people, albeit most of them not out on the midway. This was on a day that the waterpark was closed.

There is a bit of a disincentive for tourists to Orlando to visit Cypress Gardens, by the way. The park is located in the lakeland section of Central Florida, and the humidity there is *significantly* higher than it is in Orlando.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008 8:13 PM

Was going to Cypress today, but an advance call confirmed *multiple* down rides, the most important of which was of course Starliner. Ended up at IoA/USF instead. I'll end up there sometime before the place closes (planning on something for the Christmas lights, they do a really nice job).

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Sunday, November 9, 2008 11:01 PM

You know... it's a shame that their operating schedule got so truncated. A friend and I went on a cruise a few weeks ago, and flew in to Tampa early Thursday for a Friday cruise, and back out late Monday. We needed to fill most of Thurs, and several hours Mon, and of course my first thought was 'roller coasters!' We're doing Disney in Dec, and both USO/IOA and BGT were too expensive for the few hours we'd have at either. I got really excited when I found CG (a big bonus that they had several coasters my friend could ride, even with her fear of heights,) only to find out they were closed both days.

Sigh. I rode Starliner at Miracle Strip many moons ago and really would have liked to see what was done with it. I doubt I'll be in a spot to hit CG again, either.

Hope it's not Geagua'd, though... although GL was my home park as a child, and thus extra-sad, it makes me really sad to see ANY park disappear (even those like WWW, which didn't have a lot to offer to begin with, LOL.)

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Monday, November 10, 2008 9:16 AM

It wasn't hurricanes that killed the park, it was location. Simply put, the park wasn't near anything.

When we went, we were led to believe it was about 20 minutes south of Orlando. What we didn't know was that while the exit off of Route 4 was 20 minutes south of Orlando, the park was another 20 minute drive from the interstate. While we didn't mind, I can't see that having made the park close enough for Orlando tourists to justify taking a few hours from their Disney/Universal/Sea World time that they likely paid for quite handsomely.

I'd love to see one of the small parks on I-Drive get the two wood coasters.

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Monday, November 10, 2008 9:38 AM

I don't know if Olde Towne has room but it might be a candidate for one of the coasters.

I put most of my remarks in the news thread but this park is certainly a model for "location, location, location."

Winter Haven is too far off the beaten path.

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Monday, November 10, 2008 2:12 PM

Old Town has no room unless they tear down that crappy hotel next door. Then again, that wouldn't be a bad thing :) I stayed there once and it was horrible. Bad roach problem, dirty rooms, and mostly transients actually living there. I do know the hotel and the park are connected, so maybe they could take out a few buildings? ;)

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