by Gary Radice
: Added August 2005
In 1991/92 themagiceye crossed the Pond to the USA to sample the delights of what Florida and California had to offer. Time moves on and inevitably classic attractions either change beyond recognition or disappear forever...
The Island in the Sky, Cypress Gardens, Florida 1991 

Needing a break from the hectic Disney routine, themagiceye decided to venture off the beaten track, hired a car and eventually found itself in an oasis of calm that was Cypress Gardens.

There are many abiding memories that stand out from this visit: The Banyan Tree, a large Buddah, a pond in the shape of Florida, the Southern Belles, a boat trip on Lake Eloise, Banana George the barefoot skier, the Wings of Wonder Butterfly House, a carousel, a side stall that involved squirting water into a clown's mouth, a side stall that involved putting a ball into a golf hole and winning tickets, speaking to a PR guy who told us about a recent visit from the Guinness World Records, a model railway inside a building, themagiceye's first taste of American lemonade that was ladled into small glasses, references to a movie entitled

"Musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. Another Esther Williams vehicle, shot in Cypress Gardens, Florida. The finale has Williams and 80 boy and girl water-skiers carrying big flags, a hundred girls in a pool shaped like Florida, and shots from helicopters, with Williams on a trapeze hanging from a plane. Critics called this Busby Berkeley's "crowning achievement." 

...and the Island in the Sky.

A five minute ride 153 feet up in the air on this contraption afforded magnificent views and provided us with magnificent memories of a place that sadly closed its doors to the public on April 13th 2003.

Cypress Gardens originally opened on 2nd January 1936 and was owned back then by Dick Pope.

Thankfully, Cypress Gardens is now open again thanks to Kent Buescher. It now boasts four roller coasters and has been renamed Cypress Gardens Adventure Park.

Above: The Island in the Sky, Cypress Gardens. On 22 February 2004, Kent Buescher’s Adventure Parks Group purchased Cypress Gardens, added some large carnival rides and renamed it Cypress Gardens Adventure Park. On 10 November 2008 Land South Holdings announced the temporary closure of the park and it was shut down a week later. In late March 2009 Cypress Gardens reopened. Emphasis has been firmly placed back onto its botanical and topiary gardens.

Grand Prix Speedway and Skyway, DisneyWorld 1991

It doesn't matter where in the world themagiceye travels, if there are classic rides like these on offer then themagiceye is happy.

Sadly, the Skyway (which offered a 5 minute ride to and from Fantasyland/Tomorrowland) closed at Walt Disney World on November 10th 1999.

themagiceye believes that this may have been due to its slow throughput and its inability to cater for people with a disability.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Walt Disney World 1991
It was a hot day and themagiceye queued for a very long time back in 1991 but managed to experience this magnificent ride before it finally closed to the public on 14th October 1994.
In its 23 year history this ride always drew the crowds. It was a unique and fascinating ride.
themagiceye remembers sitting next to a porthole and staring out at some animatronics against the background noise of some commentary and the whirring sound of the sub.
A Disney Cast Member was standing on some steps nearby (I thought with his head out of the sub for most of the ride) but that may be a memory clouded in the mists of time.
Slow throughput and mechanical problems probably put paid to this classic attraction.
Sea World
Sea World was initially considered 'a filler' of a Park by themagiceye.

It appeared from the 1991 trip anyway that everyone who had flown in from the UK and were staying on I-Drive were at Sea World that very same afternoon.

Of course today Sea World boasts a lot more attractions than it did back then but themagiceye's memories remain very fond ones: Many flamingos by a cafe, Shamu (of course...how many are there/have there been?), a Floridian storm...everyone just appeared to be having a great time...and not a roller coaster in sight! 

themagiceye also visited San Diego Sea World the following year but I remember thinking that it was too hot and humid to watch many of the shows...However, themagiceye still watched them, along with many other mad dogs and Englishmen..  :-)

Trumpeter Springs, Discovery Island 1991

It was with some sadness that themagiceye discovered that the 11.5 acre zoological park that we visited in 1991 had closed to the public in April 1999.

Most of its animals and birds were relocated back then to the Discovery Island section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Known prior to 1999 as The Bay Lake's Tropical Island Paradise and originally opened as Treasure Island in April 1974, this lush, tranquil jewel of a place was a great way to escape the crowds and learn about the flora and fauna.

Wonderful memories include: sitting on a rocking chair drinking lemonade next to a totem pole (don't ask...but it was great!) learning about Trumpeter Swans in Trumpeter Springs from people who really cared for their subject, finding out that Discovery Island was home to over 100 species of animals and over 200 plants, following the walkways and rope bridges, seeing the turtles and feeling the heat and the humidity on the back of the neck.

Grand Prix Speedway and Skyway, Disney World

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea


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