New Cypress Gardens Ownership Announces Operational Change at Historic Attraction

Respected attractions management specialist Baker Leisure Group to oversee

park operations, entertainment; provide more enjoyable guest experience

Jan 02, 2008, 00:00 ET from Cypress Gardens

    CYPRESS GARDENS, Fla., Jan. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 worldwide as
 one of the premiere consulting and management specialists in the themed
 attractions industry, has been appointed to operate the 71-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 assignments 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 largest theme parks in the Middle East.
 Altogether, Baker Leisure Group has been involved with more than 100 theme
 parks, attractions and related assignments around the world since the firm
 was founded 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.
     Land South Holdings Group
     Land South Holdings, based in Mulberry, Fla., is a real estate
 investment company specializing in large land acquisitions in the United
     Baker Leisure Group
     Baker Leisure Group based in Orlando, Fla., is a multi-faceted
 management and consulting company specializing in attractions,
 entertainment centers and tourism businesses.

SOURCE Cypress Gardens