Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Many Faces of Cypress Gardens

Cypress Gardens started out as a botanical garden on a private estate. While it has grown and adapted to the competitive environment of Florida attractions over the many years since it began- it is still a magnificent botanical garden, both natural and formal, first and foremost. But surely there is something here for everyone: a butterfly conservatory, an aviary, a zoological display (with things you won't likely see elsewhere like a black spotted leopard and an agouti), a Southern Mansion with belles in gowns strolling the property, an amusement park, and a world class water skiing show that has been running for the last 60 years consecutively- making this the longest running athletic display event in the country.
The view from the sky ride- a space needle like ride that carries you 153 up in the air for a bird's eye view of the grounds is terrific and a great place to hear a brief history of the place while the observation platform rotates so you won't miss anything the guide is talking about.

Another reminder: click on photos to enlarge and "back arrow" to return to blog.

Looking up at the sky ride...
And looking straight down from 153 feet in the air...
and then out over the garden grounds.
There are dozens of large topiary pieces all of which were beautifully executed and in terrific condition, even for the winter month display.

There are waterfalls, flowing streams, and a huge lake- all part and parcel to the park....
There are Cypress trees pretty much everywhere- hence the name, but at Lake Eloise they are very large and stand majestically, draped in Spanish moss by the water's edge.
In the Oriental garden section, bamboo of all sizes and shapes rustle musically in the wind.
The Banyan Tree is worth the price of admission alone. It is breath-takingly huge and beautiful at the same time.
The head shot photo roster on the entryway to the ski stadium reads like a who's who of the water ski world, and many if not most of the sports greats have performed here or been a part of the ski team at one time or another. The show was very entertaining!
Their signature pyramid performed while flying the American flad passes by the stadium seating in revue....
These skiers are heading right to left, having just cleared the jump ramp "three up" and are each performing a different flip maneuver.
The butterfly girls wave to visitors as they exit the ski show and welcome them to other parts of the grounds.
This Galapagos sized tortoise was as eager to look at us as we were to look at him....
But "Action Jackson", here " behaved just like I normally do, by sticking his head in harm's way and hamming it up for the cameras. It seemed like he and his family were having a great time at the gardens....and there will be a lot of people go home with a photo very similar to this one!
This "photo op" gator marked the entrance to the display which housed some of the actual alligators that "starred" in the Tarzan movies of the 1930's. Now if that isn't special, then I don't know what is!!! Ahhhh, ee ah ee ah ee ah eee ah!

Oh, and the price of admission to the park includes a second day visit (used within a week) at no additional charge. So since our timing seems to have been simply impeccable on this visit, we will go back again Sunday to hear The Beach Boys in concert. Surf's up, dude!

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