Cypress Gardens Now Protected (FL)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., 2/24/2004 – The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization, announced today that it has successfully completed the protection of Cypress Gardens, the historic amusement park.

In a real estate closing which took place in Lakeland, the 150-acre site was purchased from its previous owner, First Gardens, L.C., by TPL. Then, TPL sold a conservation easement over the entire property to the state of Florida, while Polk County purchased the historic 30 acre gardens portion of the property, minus the development rights covered by the state-owned easement. And finally, Kent Buescher, owner of Wild Adventures theme park in Valdosta, Ga., purchased the remaining property, also subject to the conservation easement.

Gov. Jeb Bush said, “Cypress Gardens is a rare piece of Florida’s modern history. Because of the unwavering public support and the joint commitment by state, local and private partners to save this cultural icon, Florida’s first theme park will live again.”

“This has been an extremely complicated project, but we are pleased with the result and we look forward to celebrating the grand re-opening of Cypress Gardens,” said Will Rogers, president of TPL. “Hundreds of thousands of people have fond memories of Cypress Gardens, and we are happy that we have been able to help preserve this special place.”

TPL signed a contract last Aug. 25 with First Gardens, L.C., to purchase the property, with the goal of assuring its long-term protection. The site includes the botanical gardens, the water ski arena, Snively Mansion, the butterfly conservatory, and historic structures such as the radio museum.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, is a national non-profit which works to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres. Operating in Florida since 1975, TPL has helped protect more than 275 sites, including parks, waterfronts, historic sites, greenways and trails. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations. For more information, visit TPL on the web at