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Cypress Gardens, America's Tropical Wonderland: How Dick Pope Invented Florida Hardcover – November 14, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Where America's wildest dreams came true

 

"At Cypress Gardens--the original Florida theme park--movie stars, water-ski champs, and southern sweethearts created magic. More than anyone, even Walt Disney, Dick Pope Sr. invented Florida as America's dream vacationland. This journey back to the attraction in its heyday brims with wonderful images, true tales, and the author's great love for and understanding of the real Florida."--Joy Wallace Dickinson, author of Orlando: City of Dreams

 

"Before the monstrous Mouse infested the orange groves, luring tourists to its predigested 'fun,' Cypress Gardens was Florida’s premier attraction, a crazy salad of sunshine, water, flowers, palm trees, and pretty girls in bathing suits performing dare-devilish stunts. This is a terrific book." --Diane Roberts, NPR commentator and author of Dream State

 

To the average person weathering a New England winter, Dick Pope's Cypress Gardens must have looked even more exotic than a trip to Alice's Wonderland. The images coming out of his promotional powerhouse appeared in magazines, newspapers, newsreels, and movies. These Technicolor glories depicted everything from bathing beauties aquaplaning through walls of fire to southern belles relaxing beneath huge tropical plants, from Don Ameche proposing to Betty Grable under moss-hung cypress trees to Esther Williams performing a water ballet in the famous Florida-shaped pool.


It was all happening in sleepy Winter Haven, where one real estate maverick turned tourism tycoon was out to sell "100,000 [visitors] 25 cents worth of Florida."


Brilliantly illustrated with over 250 vibrant images, Cypress Gardens, America's Tropical Wonderland reveals the empire Dick Pope built from its origins as remote swampland to its heyday as a famous water-sports destination and playground for such stars as Joan Crawford, Johnny Carson, and Carol Burnett, as well as royalty from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to King Hussein of Jordan.


Lu Vickers also discusses the park's decline following the construction of Walt Disney World, changes in management, the evolving interests and vacationing habits of the nation, as well as its outlook for the future as a part of LEGOLAND Florida.

 

 

About the Author

Lu Vickers is the author of Breathing Underwater and Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids: A History of One of Florida's Oldest Roadside Attractions.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida (November 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081303499X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813034997
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 10.2 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,524,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lu Vickers has written four Florida history books: Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids, Cypress Gardens, America's Tropical Wonderland, and Weeki Wachee, Thirty Years of Underwater Photography, with Bonnie Georgiadis. The latest book, REMEMBERING PARADISE PARK: TOURISM AND SEGREGATION AT SILVER SPRINGS, is coming out on August 31, 2015. Paradise Park was a segregated park that was owned and operated by Silver Springs from 1949 to 1969. The book covers the parks' history against the backdrop of American segregation and includes chapters on other segregated parks, on African American history in Marion County, African Americans in Florida's tourism industry,and on the Civil Rights movement in Florida. The book will contain over 100 photographs.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John R Sailstad on February 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although I have had a passion for water skiing for over 50 years, I found a surprising amount of information new to me. Much of this book used personal interviews with individuals either in the Pope family or the extended Cypress Gardens community. Quite a bit of the information came from Dick Pope's own book about water skiing which was quite a remarkable book written in the early days of the sport. I had visited Cypress Gardens in the 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's as well as after the park was sold but still operating as "Cypress Gardens" with the added carnival attractions. This book really does a fine job of showing how Dick Pope, Sr. promoted tourism to the Sunshine State, how his wife Julie influenced the start of the ski shows and the southern belles, and, importantly, from a historical viewpoint, how things significantly changed when the Disneys came to Florida. This book includes information about the current park owners Legoland. Lu Vickers did a great job of detailing the relationship Dick Pope, Sr. had with Esther Williams. After reading this book I would highly recommend you obtain a copy of the movie "Easy to Love" (available in VHS) and experience the original Cypress Gardens magic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Florida Jim on December 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I gave this book as a gift to my wife. She had spent her teenage years in Winter Haven, lived just a few minutes from Cypress Gardens, and knew the Pope family. The book brought back many fond memories of the Gardens. More importantly, the book explored Dick Pope's essential role in promoting Florida and creating a thriving tourist industry. Ultimately, the wonderful jewel that was Cypress Gardens became a memory, done in mainly by the arrival of Disney World and the change in how tourists visited the state. Though it is sad that the Gardens no longer exist, this book will provide you with a wonderful reminder of an important part of Florida history.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love to water ski,and Lu's book did not disappoint me. Lots of behind the scenes facts that were right up my alley.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By antonio hervas cortes on April 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fantastic and anmazing product, good service and perfect state! super gratefull and recomendable. hope you enjoy this item as much as I did.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Chaz on February 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of my friends was a water ski performer at Cypress Gardens and when I saw a review of the book, I immediately ordered it and sent it to her as a gift from an old friend. She loves the book and it connected us again after many years living many miles apart.
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