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Press Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 23, 2010
CONTACT: Governor's Press Office, (850) 488-5394
  Terri Durdaller, DEP, (850) 245-2112 OR (850) 519-2897

Governor and Cabinet Approve Land Agreement to Bring LEGOLAND® to Central Florida

~ Land agreement will preserve historic value and bring tourism and jobs to Polk County~

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet approved the use of state lands enabling Merlin Entertainments to build a LEGOLAND® family theme park on 150 acres of land at Cypress Gardens.

“The addition of LEGOLAND® Florida to our state’s already impressive list of attractions will serve only to enhance the Sunshine State as a travel destination,” Governor Crist said. “The beauty and splendor of the historic Cypress Gardens site will once again fascinate visitors and residents alike.”

Cypress Gardens is rich with international flora, containing over 8,000 plants from more than 90 countries in its historic gardens. In an effort to preserve this cultural and historic resource in August 2003, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) joined the state to negotiate a contract with the property owners and successfully executed agreements with the state, county and a private buyer.

“Cypress Gardens is known as Florida’s first theme park and has been an integral part of Central Florida’s history since it opened in 1936,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael W. Sole. “The purpose of this agreement is to both create jobs and maintain the cultural integrity of the land and ensure it retains its scenic and historical value.”

The new park is slated to open in 2011, bringing with it an estimated 1,000 new jobs to Polk County with a $300 million projected investment over the next five years. In January, Governor Crist, along with Senator JD Alexander, joined Merlin Entertainments for the company’s announcement of plans to open the family theme park at the 145-acre Cypress Gardens site in Winter Haven.

“A project like this helps create quality-paying jobs while growing the economy,” said Chris Hart, interim director of the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development. “Tourism plays a significant role in Florida’s economy, and we welcome LEGOLAND® to the Sunshine State.”

Florida will be home to the fifth LEGOLAND® opened worldwide. The only other one in North America is LEGOLAND® California, which was recently voted the country’s best children’s theme park by Amusement Today for the sixth consecutive year.

“Merlin Entertainments Group has a proud history of preserving historical sites,” said John Ussher, general manager of LEGOLAND® Development. “Merlin is grateful to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Cabinet for their role in helping to preserve the historical botanical gardens and insuring LEGOLAND® Florida will be enjoyed by millions of visitors for years to come.”

DEP is the state’s principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. DEP enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida’s air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally-sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves. For more information about the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, visit www.dep.state.fl.us.

Lego Land Las Vegas Replica

"The addition of LEGOLAND® Florida to our state’s already impressive list of attractions will serve only to enhance the Sunshine State as a travel destination."

Charlie Crist
Governor

–30–

10–054

Last updated: March 24, 2010

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