Nostalgic Trip to Florida’s Cypress Gardens

Travel Photo Thursday

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Sadly, it is true that you can’t go home again. Even more sad, you can’t even travel to the same spots you loved in the past.

In case you missed the classic Florida attraction, Cypress Gardens, before it became a Legoland theme park, we’re taking a little nostalgia trip today. I visited Cypress Gardens in 1998. It was a not-to-be-missed attraction on my first trip to Florida, since I had grown up with newsreel shots of those beautiful girls on water skis.

Cypress Gardens was started more than 75 years ago, and built it’s reputation on beautiful girls–both in Southern Belle Costume and in swim suits as they performed in water ski shows.

You can click on the pictures to enlarge them a bit, if you wish.

Today’s Florida Legoland, from what I’ve seen in pictures on line, has made some major changes. Instead of girls in beautiful Scarlet O’Hara dresses, visitors are greeted by southern belles fashioned form Lego blocks.  And instead of beautiful girls and broad shouldered muscle men performing on water skis, Lego characters entertain on the water. The park is mostly thrill rides and stores to sell Lego products.

However, they have preserved at least some of the original gardens, including the large revolving platform at the height of the trees and the gazebo and landscaping of the iconic shot with girls on the lawn.

As for the ibis and the squirrel. I have no idea what they are thinking about the changes…..if they stuck around to see.

This photo gallery has been my contribution to Travel Photo Thursday. Go to Budget Traveler’s Sandbox if you would like to see a fascinating array of photographs from around the world.  Just peruse the main photo essay and then click on the names of the photographers at the bottom. These photos are all my own, and were scanned from the old slides.

A couple of bonuses to go with my own photos:

See comparison shots of before and after Legoland at Yesterland.

And here is a video from 1957–the show had not changed much when I saw it in 1998.

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

4 thoughts on “Nostalgic Trip to Florida’s Cypress Gardens

  1. It’s so true about not being able to go back. Things change so rapidly and the territory becomes so unfamiliar. Glad you have some good memories though.

  2. Along with the now-defunct Circus World, Cypress Gardens was on our list of regular attractions when we’d visit our grandparents in Florida as kids. And as a child who wasn’t too thrilled by thrill rides, I gotta say I enjoyed the more relaxed pace of the Gardens!

  3. Thank goodness you got to see Cypress Gardens, before it morphed into Legoland. Seaworld at the Gold Coast in Queensland had a similar water-ski show, which was first replaced by jet skis and now also with jet packs. I actually saw the water-ski girls when I was a child but have no photos of them.

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