Don’t expect to avoid Cypress Gardens’ crowds by sneaking in an early weekday visit in September — the park won’t be open.
The Winter Haven theme park plans to limit its September park schedule to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, park officials said.
“We’re just trying this September to focus on our weekends,” said Haley Kish, a spokeswoman for Cypress Gardens Adventure Park.
Kish said it is typical for smaller parks to reduce their operating hours in September to reduce costs and improve revenue.
“This is just feeling it out,” Kish said. “A lot of theme parks go dark in September.”
For now, the reduction in operations will be contained to September, although it could be extended, depending on park attendance.
Kish didn’t know what, if any, accommodations would be made during September for the 450 to 500 employees who work at the park.
But to make up for the shorter schedule, the Gardens will have bigger events and concerts, she said. And while officials said haven’t officially announced the definitive plans are, expect to see events involving extreme sports and another with members of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“We have a jam-packed event schedule,” Kish said.
Last year, former owner Kent Buescher developed “Garden Days,” which was not successful. It allowed visitors to purchase a reduced priced ticked for a tour of the botanical gardens, along with various shows and animal exhibits on a limited basis.
During that month, the park’s attendance was between 50 and 200 people a day.
And for a park that had an on-duty staff of 200, it didn’t make economic sense, Kish said.
The reduction is one of several moves Mulberry-based Land South Holdings has made since its partners, Brain Philpot and Robert Harper IV, purchased the park last October from Buescher.
Shortly after the purchase, ticket, parking and food prices were reduced. And in January, Land South contracted with Orlando-based Baker Leisure Group to oversee the park’s daily operations.
Philpot and Harper bought the oldest theme park in the state for $16.8 million at a bankruptcy auction in Macon, Ga.