September 13, 2006
Winter Haven, FL - Cypress Gardens Adventure Park has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to debts incurred after the theme park was hit by three hurricanes in 2004. According to the filing the park racked up $25 million in debt from the three hurricanes.
A spokesman for park owner Kent Buescher said the theme park took three direct hits from the storms and the insurance company has yet to pay the claims. In the meantime, the park will remain open for business. Tickets and season passes will be honored.
"Our guests and our employees won't see any changes," said Sara Sumner, spokeswoman for Cypress Gardens Adventure Park.
Two years ago Cypress Gardens was saved when Kent Buescher owner of Wild Adventures theme park in Valdosta, Georgia purchased the park for $7 million. Buescher then spent $45 million on new roller coasters, rides and other upgrades. The re-opening ended up costing more than was expected and was setback several months due to the three hurricanes.
According to Ward Stone Jr., the company's bankruptcy attorney, Cypress Gardens has debt of about $70 million and the insurance company has yet to pay most of the $25 million it cost to repair the park after the hurricanes.
Cypress Gardens history dates back 70 years to 1936. The theme park is well known for its lush gardens and elaborate water ski show, but as competition from Orlando's theme parks increased the park fell into a decline and ultimately closed in 2002 after the tourism market collapsed following the events of 9/11.
The park hopes that by filling for bankruptcy it can reorganize and protect the park for the future. Buescher's other theme park Wild Adventures is unaffected.
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