Fla. Theme Park Opens Gates Final Time
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) _ Cypress Gardens, which billed itself as Florida’s oldest theme park and served as the backdrop for Esther Williams movies during its heyday, opened its gates for the last time on Sunday.
The park, which opened in 1936, has seen a steady decline in attendance since 1995. Park President Bill Reynolds says owners have lost $6 million in the last eight years.
More than 15,000 people passed through the park’s gates Sunday, a far cry from the daily norm of a few hundred people.
In addition to water-skiing, the park boasts 8,000 varieties of plants, canal rides, educational shows, and children’s rides and games.
Officials have already found new homes for most of the park’s 100 animals and recruiters from other theme parks plan to interview its 350 employees.
``It’s like the death of a family member,″ said Cherie Hare, who’s in charge of tickets and turnstiles. ``I’ve been here for 14 years, and I’ve seen a lot of skiers come out of here and get married.″