Yesterday I posted about the grand re-opening ceremony at Legoland Florida for the Florida Pool and Oriental Garden. Anyone who’s been around Florida for a long time knows that Legoland Florida actually sits on the grounds of the old Cypress Gardens amusement park. Sadly, that classic park couldn’t retain its money-making capacity in a modern age crowded with the likes of Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld Orlando. Its many incarnations failed until Merlin Entertainments swooped in and saved it from becoming another tacky lakefront condo development. Now it’s a family attraction once again, and although Lego is front and center, the Cypress Gardens area is still there (for the most part) and still retains its nostalgic charm.
If you’d like to see the full re-opening ceremony, it’s all there in the video below, featuring the park’s general manager, Adrian Jones, and Bob Gernert, former president of Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce.
Jones also took some time to chat one on one with the media about Merlin Entertainments’s commitment to retain the classic charm of Cypress Gardens while still moving forward with the Legoland Florida identity. You can see the full interview in the video below. In it, he discusses how you’re going to see more Lego elements popping up in the garden, but he also says that restoring the canals is the next big project. That will make the purists’ hearts sing, since the old canal boat ride was a Cypress Gardens icon.
If you just watched the video, did you also catch Jones’s allusion to the possible return of the topiaries? As he said, they’re in very poor shape, and it would be a lot of work to restore them to their former glory. But obviously that’s still on the table, so they may just re-emerge someday.
In the meantime, watch for the new Lego elements, but don’t expect to see the Florida Pool filled with floating bricks. That was a one-time display put in place just for the grand re-opening. The bricks are being sent back to their usual home in the Legoland Water Park lazy river.
Bob Gernert also gave interviews, and he spoke very candidly about just howt close Cypress Gardens came to being nothing but a memory before Merlin stepped in. You can hear his full interview below:
Thankfully, now the gardens are protected. Merlin agreed to maintain them as a condition of building Legoland Florida. Even better, they’ve gone beyond mere maintenance to get them into a shape that recalls their glory days and opens them to a whole new generation. Sure, kids might shrug and roll their eyes because Southern belles, banyan trees, gazebos, and pools shaped like the Sunshine State might not be as exciting as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or an excursion on Expedition Everest out to the east or even Miniland right there at Legoland itself. But perhaps some of that natural beauty will still sink in and they’ll have fond memories of visiting a natural wonder like so many generations before them.