Polk County Building Blocks
Not all my posts on these boards cry out for answers.
Some of them just pose questions.
I think it's fair to say that sometimes I'm more interested in the people behind the mechanics behind the parks and behind the rides.
Hence this potential "conversation stopper" of a thread. :-)
1991 was the first time my wife, in-laws and this full time Liverpudlian (I work in Liverpool, UK) community registered nurse and part time amusement park enthusiast hired a car in the US of A - from somewhere on I-Drive if I remember correctly -and drove the 60 minutes or so to Cypress Gardens.
I was still getting used to the idea that at a red traffic light in Florida you can turn right if there is no oncoming traffic.
Jump the lights for any reason (other than ambulance or police) in the UK and you can bet your life you will receive a £65 fine, 3 points on your driving license and possibly an increase in your insurance premium as a result.
12 points on your license = One heck of a ban.
Cypress Gardens was an oasis.
I've posted about this place before on these hallowed boards but for the sheer heck of it I'll repeat myself:
This from my website themagiceye and an article entitled "Once upon a time in America"
Needing a break from the hectic Disney routine, themagiceye decided to venture off the beaten track, hired a car and eventually found itself in an oasis of calm that was Cypress Gardens.
There are many abiding memories that stand out from this visit:
The Banyan Tree, a large Buddah, a pond in the shape of Florida, the Southern Belles, a boat trip on Lake Eloise, Banana George the barefoot skier, the Wings of Wonder Butterfly House, a carousel, a side stall that involved squirting water into a clown's mouth, a side stall that involved putting a ball into a golf hole and winning tickets, speaking to a PR guy who told us about a recent visit from the Guinness World Records, a model railway inside a building, themagiceye's first taste of American lemonade that was ladled into small glasses, references to a movie entitled
EASY TO LOVE (1953)
"Musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. Another Esther Williams vehicle, shot in Cypress Gardens, Florida. The finale has Williams and 80 boy and girl water-skiers carrying big flags, a hundred girls in a pool shaped like Florida, and shots from helicopters, with Williams on a trapeze hanging from a plane. Critics called this Busby Berkeley's "crowning achievement."
...and then there was the Island in the Sky.
A five minute ride 153 feet up in the air on this contraption afforded magnificent views and provided us with magnificent memories of a place that sadly closed its doors to the public on April 13th 2003.
I have followed the fate of Cypress gardens religiously over the last ten years, even attempting to interview a Southern Belle for my website (No reply though - I guess that's Showbiz!!)
I followed it on the net when On 22 February 2004, Kent Buescher’s Adventure Parks Group purchased Cypress Gardens, added some large carnival rides and renamed it Cypress Gardens Adventure Park.
I followed it on the net when on 10 November 2008 Land South Holdings announced the temporary closure of the park and it was shut down a week later.
I followed it on the net when in late March 2009 Cypress Gardens reopened and emphasis was placed back onto its botanical and topiary gardens.
I followed it on the net through its demise.
And I'm following it now as Legoland Florida is less than 2 months from opening.
More than anything I'm very interested in how a community can change what it offers to the visitor - or more accurately the visitor demographic.
Polk County has one seismic shift to consider.
The average age of visitors to Cypress Gardens was considerably older than the 2 - 12 age group that Merlin have set their sights on here.
I reckon Merlin will succeed where many have said they will fail simply because of the brand name.
If Legoland Windsor is anything to go by then a day at LF will make for a great family day out.
But what of the existing businesses in Polk County?
How are businesses adapting, if at all?
Can posters here offer up any examples of how businesses are changing to suit the demographic?
In this age of Trip Advisor, Facebook, Tumblr et al businesses, hotels, restaurants etc have got to get it right first time.
Will they get it right first time?
What changes are being implemented?
I wish everyone all the best.
Apart from the temperamental coaster that was The Jungle Coaster in Windsor - and is now the TECHNIC Test Track Coaster at Florida - people of Polk County believe me when I say:
You are all in for a real treat.
A real opportunity.
My family and I love Legoland and love Florida.
I sincerely wish all of you all the very best.
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