Cypress Gardens 70th Anniversary
Photos and Story by Susan Winfree

On a day trip recently, we decided to visit Cypress Gardens. The park is celebrating it's 70th

Anniversary this year, and I wondered how it had changed since my last visit years ago.  

What a pleasant surprise, when just inside, a southern belle welcomed guests and posed for photos.  This tradition started in 1940, when a vine on the entrance wall, the first thing visitors saw, died after a freeze. Visitors drove up, saw the dead vine and left, without even entering the park.   Julie Pope instructed one of her girls to put on an old fashioned dress and stand in front of the vine to hide it.    More visitors came and were so taken with the pretty girl, they never noticed the dead the Southern Belle tradition was born. It is said that local families have generations, grandmothers, mothers and daughters that have served as southern belles since 1940.

On to the World Famous Water Ski show............

Living up to it's name as 'THE WATER SKI CAPITOL OF THE WORLD',  Skiers take to the water and air with jumps, flips, turns and the signature PYRAMID.     AND AS THE STORY GOES..............

The ski show began when in 1943; a photo appeared in the newspaper of water skiers being pulled by a boat at Cypress Gardens.  Some soldiers visited and asked about. The water show, which didn't exist. Julie Pope, seizing the opportunity, rounded up her children and friends to stage the parks first water ski show. The next weekend over 800 soldiers showed up.  Another tradition was born!

I bet you didn't know the famous gazebo at the gardens was built in 1973 from a World War ll satellite dish, did you?

All of the beautiful gardens, birds, butterflies and wildlife are beautifully maintained, but there’s so much more now------more shows-   CYPRESS GARDENS ON ICE., a 50's review 'SHAKE RATTLE & ROLL' and don't miss  'THE TREASURE OF CYPRESS COVE' A hilarious comedy with Mike Lee, John Donovan and Jacob Fulhart as  pirates after the treasure.  Great interaction with visitors.

CYPRESS GARDENS re-opened Dec. 2004 after massive restoration and additions.  39 great rides were added inc. 5 roller coasters and the world’s tallest spinning rapids ride. As well as a water park, 'SPLASH ISLAND'.  ALL INCLUDED IN THE PARK ADMISSION, which, by the way is MUCH lower then the 'other' parks.   This is the best value around and can entertain all ages, fm toddlers to grandma & grandpa. EVEN TEENS.     AND NO LONG LINES!!   (Except on concert days, make sure to check the schedule)

DICK POPE JR. and wife JULIE opened their dream park in 1936.   Special events are scheduled all year to celebrate the 70th year Anniversary of the now re-named CYPRESS GARDENS ADVENTURE PARK.


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