Florida Cypress Gardens announced today its plans to cease normal park operations when the park closes at 7:00pm Sunday, April 13th. This announcement comes from Bill Reynolds, President and CEO.
This painful decision is one which the owners and operators of Florida Cypress Gardens have little to no control over. The circumstances dating back to September 11th, 2001 which brought about an immediate decline in the tourism industry are part of the decision to close. Attendance, the park's major source of revenue, has never rebounded from this event. Even with the best entertainment offering in its history, the park's March attendance was down 42,000 visitors from the previous year."
The ensuing worsening economy, and the effect on those who rely on interest for their income – the majority of Cypress Gardens' clientele – have also been contributing factors. The threat of terrorism and the Iraq threat and ultimate war have impacted the park's ability to sustain itself.
This unavoidable action will result in the immediate layoff of essentially the entire staff, although a skeleton crew will remain for a short time to secure the property and wrap up the park's affairs in an orderly manner.
Reynolds stated that this is purely a financial decision. "It is mandated by our lack of funds to sustain the normal operations. These diminished funds have impacted the company and placed it in this faltering and distressed situation. This distressed situation has been created as previously mentioned by unforeseen factors beyond the control of Cypress Gardens' management and efforts."
Reynolds and his ownership team acquired the Cypress Gardens property on April 1, 1995 from the Anheuser Busch theme park division. This sale took place in an effort to better position Cypress Gardens for continued operation. It was believed that a private entrepreneurial ownership would be the best course of action for this small Central Florida attraction. Over the eight years of private ownership, despite imaginative and creative marketing strategies and substantial capital investment in the park, the operations have accumulated losses of over six million dollars.
Financial issues pertaining to creditors and others will be dealt with in accordance with the limited resources available, and in consultation with financial advisors and legal counsel.
Reynolds commented that one reason this decision is so painful is because of the tremendous efforts that have been undertaken by the Cypress Gardens' employees to provide a wonderful experience for its guests. "I'd like to thank them for all of their dedication and work over the years."
The park will be open Thursday and Friday from 9:30 am to 5:00pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 am to 7:00pm.