Florida's Cypress Gardens closes gates

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WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- After 67 years, Florida's oldest theme park, Cypress Gardens, closed its gates April 13.

Chairman and CEO Bill Reynolds said the decision was painful but due to circumstances beyond the owners' control.

The park's business never rebounded from the drop in tourism that occurred after Sept. 11.

The effect of a slowing economy -- especially on people who rely on interest for income -- had cut deeply into the park's attendance.

March's attendance figures were down 42,000 from the previous year, Reynolds said. Since Reynolds and an investor group purchased the park from Anheuser Busch in 1995 the park racked up losses of over $6 million.

The closing will also mean the loss of jobs for more than 500 employees.

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