Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Former IAAPA chairman returns to Cypress Gardens

Sims continues career in Florida

Cypress Gardens, Winter Haven, Florida, reopened last month with a new operations director, former IAAPA chairman Bill Sims. The former CEO of Silver Springs Nature Park in Ocala, Florida, previously worked at Cypress Gardens with founder Dick Pope Snr.

Sims, 67, is a Winter Haven native. He worked with the Pope family from 1970 to 1985 and finished his career there as Cypress Gardens’ executive vice-president. He said it was there that he learned his skills in the theme park industry, and that enabled him to take over Silver Springs in 1985 and later Weeki Wachee Springs.

Sims was asked to help revamp the park by Brian Philpot, one of the two partners in the group that bought the troubled theme park in 2007. Philpot and Rob Harper, partners in Mulberry-based Land South Holdings, paid $16.8 million for it in October 2007. The park reopens with the botanical gardens, waterski show and waterpark intact, but the rides and animals are gone.

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