The new owners of Florida’s Cypress Gardens have announced a significant operational change at the historic attraction. Owners say the move will create a more energized, fun-filled experience that will be applauded by Cypress Gardens’ current guest base and create strong appeal to both area residents and visitors to Central Florida.
Baker Leisure Group, headquartered in Orlando, respected globally as one of the premiere consulting and management specialists in the themed attractions industry, has been appointed to operate the 72-year old Florida themed attraction. “This is an important first step toward providing our guests with a more positive, memorable guest experience, ” said co-owners Rob Harper and Brian Philpot, who announced Baker Leisure Group’s appointment on Tuesday. Harper and Philpot said the change does not affect the attraction’s operating staff, but replaces the contractor that had been managing Cypress Gardens on interim basis since the two Polk County natives purchased the attraction last October. The operational changeover is effective immediately.
"We are fortunate to have Baker Leisure Group at Cypress Gardens. They are one of the premier management companies in the world and based in Central Florida. Cypress Gardens needs a strong community presence, an element the Baker group understands, ” said Harper and Philpot.
Baker Leisure Group, comprised of veterans of some of the world’s most successful theme parks and attractions, has earned worldwide recognition for their attraction and theme park management capabilities. The Orlando-based company has handled projects ranging from the popular Coca- Cola Olympic City at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games to planning, opening and managing Al Shallal, Saudi Arabia one of the biggest theme parks in the Middle East. Altogether, Baker Leisure Group has been involved with over 100 theme parks, attractions and related assignments across the world since the firm was established in 1988 by 40-year theme park and attractions management specialist Steve Baker.
Harper and Philpot also stresses that the attraction will maintain a close relationship with the local community. Community relations programs will include partnerships with local businesses, greater community involvement and a proactive outreach to Cypress Gardens’ “alumni” and fans.
Cypress Gardens staff were notified of the operational change on Tuesday morning. Vendors and suppliers to Cypress Gardens were also notified of the change, along with assurances that the change is a reflection of the new ownership’s confidence in the park’s future.
The ownership team said they are in the process of notifying a number of other influential local audiences in Central Florida, including tourism industry and economic development leadership, as well as current ticket holders and volunteers who have lobbied to keep Cypress Gardens operating after the attraction suffered attendance declines in the 1980s and 1990s and an ownership change in 2005.
“Visitors to Cypress Gardens will notice a more lively, interactive, engaging atmosphere as we move forward, ” said Steve Baker, whose company has assumed operational control of the attraction. “We provide the best overall guest experience possible. The changes will range from cosmetic to cultural. Cypress Gardens enthusiasts will recognize and applaud the changes and potential guests, particularly families living in the fast-growing Polk County metropolitan area, will have plenty of reasons to want to visit the attraction for the first time or make a return visit.”
Baker said operational changes will address intangibles such as more extensive staff training, revised internal operating procedures such as queue line management and more accessible food and beverage service, as well as more visible changes.