| FLORIDA OPEN FOR BUSINESS
MIAMI, FL - Tourists are welcome. That is the message being sent out by property & retail owners in the State of Florida. Since 1900 over 60 hurricanes have been recorded. Never have four Cat 2 or more Hurricanes hit one state in the same year. The damage and the effects of the storms have been well documented. But according to Florida residents it is not how many times you get knocked down that counts but how many times you get back on your feet. E. Douglas Cifers of Florida Monthly magazine says, “The hurricanes are gone, and Florida is open for business. So pack up the family and visit Florida.”
The resiliency of the State perhaps can best be shown in the example of the grand re-opening of Cypress Gardens. Originally scheduled for it’s re-opening prior to Thanksgiving 2004, Cypress Gardens Adventure Park, Florida’s first theme park, blends it’s storied past with sensational new thrills.
Like so many areas across Florida, Cypress Gardens Adventure Park was significantly affected by this years storms, especially Hurricane Charley. As the eye of the storm passed over Winter Haven, more than 75 miles inland, Florida’s first theme park stood the test of fierce wind, severe rain and tornados that touched down in the park’s most historic area of the park, the botanical gardens. “When I arrived Saturday morning at Cypress Gardens I was devastated,” said park owner Kent Buescher. “We had spent so much time restoring and rejuvenating the park that it was heartbreaking to see six months of hard work disappear overnight.”
Clean up began immediately as work crews arrived to assess the damage. Dedicated employees came to work Saturday morning, leaving their families and homes that too had been affected by this massive storm. Initial statements from state tourism officials give us hope that there may be some sort of financial assistance available that might help soften the blow that Charley delivered. The botanical gardens sustained a significant amount of damage as tornados touched down destroying numerous trees and changing the lush tropical backdrop of the gardens. Miraculously the Banyan Tree, a historic fixture of the Gardens planted by park founders Dick and Julie Pope, escaped with minor damage.
“Mother Nature has a way of allowing intense rejuvenation of plants, trees and flowers after such a devastating natural experience,” Buescher said. “We will not turn back now, we will continue to do all we can to make Cypress Gardens Adventure Park better.”
While the four roller coasters under construction in the new ride area of the park escaped the storm unscathed, the park did experience structural damage totaling between $3.5 and $5 million. Numerous new roofs as well as the reconstruction of buildings to meet codes set in place after Hurricane Andrew are just a few of the reasons park officials say the community will celebrate Cypress Gardens’ reopening this Dec. 9th.
“We were fortunate, many people worked very hard ,” Buescher said. “As we all continue to rebuild, our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have experienced great loss from the storms.”
The park will feature 38 new exciting rides, including four roller coasters and the world’s tallest spinning rapids ride. Residents and tourists alike will enjoy all-star concerts, spectacular daily shows, and a craftsmen’s village. And revisit the historic gardens, beautiful belles and the world-famous water ski shows.
Yes Florida is now open for business. So pack up the kids and jump in, the water is fine, and so are Floridians.