Cypress Gardens: A Visual History

WINTER HAVEN, FL -- Blending old and new, LEGOLAND Florida celebrates the Cypress Gardens heritage with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to re-open the Florida Pool and Oriental Gardens. (Chip Litherland for LEGOLAND Florida, Merlin Entertainments Group)

In 1936, Dick Pope Sr. and his wife, Julie, opened a botanical garden just off the shore of Lake Eloise. In 1947, it held the first ever water ski show and quickly became known as the “Water Ski Capital of the World.” By 1953, two major motion pictures were filmed among the garden, and by the late 1960s a broadcast special, known as The Johnny Carson Show, was televised right from the island. Before there was a Disney World, there was Cypress Gardens. And it was nothing short of Florida magic.