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
?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
?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
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,