The following is from http://goflorida.about.com/cs/attractionsalpha/a/aa062303a.htm
On January 2, 1936, the gates opened to what would become a showplace for 8,000 varieties of flowers from over 90 different countries. Many had made fun of Dick Pope when he had announced his plan for his dream garden. No one makes fun of the transformed marsh land now. Two years after its opening, electric boats began gliding tourists through the tropical canals.
The gracious Southern Belles that have become a Cypress Gardens tradition were born out of necessity -- contrived by Pope's wife to detract visitor's eyes one winter from a freeze ravaged garden. The ski shows evolved much the same way. Photos appeared in a local newspaper showing skiers being pulled by boat at Cypress Gardens. Servicemen showed up wanting to see the show. None existed until that day when Pope's wife rounded up her children and their friends to stage the first ski show. The next weekend 800 servicemen showed up for the ski show... and the rest, as they say, is history.
Celebrities and Hollywood movie producers discovered Cypress Gardens in the late 40s, 50s and 60s. Elvis Presley, Esther Williams and Johnny Carson helped build the tremendous recognition of the gardens. Not bad for a 16-acre piece of marsh land that earned its creator the title "Father of Florida Tourism."
In 1983 it added the Rotating Island in the Sky ride, and a couple of years after that it added an ice skating show. Then in the late 1990s another addition of an authentic paddle wheel boat for sightseeing tours and romantic brunch and dinner cruises.
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, which owned SeaWorld, purchased the land and attraction from the Popes and when Anheuser Busch acquired SeaWorld in 1989, it ended up with Cypress Gardens as part of the deal. In 1995, Anheuser Busch sold the park to some of the park's managers. Through the efforts of first the Pope's and then corporate owners and their deep pockets, the park kept getting better over the years. In the end, none of it was enough to keep pace with the big attractions and their state-of-the-art rides. Unlike the water skiers that rode the waves over the years the park couldn't stay afloat.
And this from one of the correct guessers.
And this web site http://www.cypressgardens.com/ simply says they will reopen in October of 2004.