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Southern belles, Lego bricks mark March 5 opening of Florida pool at Legoland

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Once upon a time, southern belles strolled the grounds of the Cypress Gardens theme park in Winter Haven, Florida, as guests enjoyed the banyan tree, gazebo, and Oriental Garden. One of the park's most iconic features was the Florida swimming pool, which was featured in the 1953 Esther Williams movie, "Easy to Love." Sadly, the park closed down, and the pool wasn't among the sections that reopened when Legoland Florida made its debut in 2011.

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That all changed on March 5, 2014, when a gathering of community leaders, elected officials, and the media were called together for a special ceremony marking the reopening of the pool. Former southern belles who once strolled around when the park was Cypress Gardens reprised their role for the grand opening. You can see them in the slideshow accompanying this article, along with the iconic pool itself and the ribbon cutting that marked its official reopening. It was filled with a colorful bounty of Lego bricks for the occasion and ringed with citrus in honor of the famous photos taken by Dick Pope, Sr. when he owned the park.

The general public can visit the pool starting on March 6. The Lego bricks will be gone, but the pool itself will stand as a reminder of the park's history and a spot where older visitors can reminisce about visits in days past and kids can see it for the very first time.

The Oriental Garden reopened at the same time as the pool. For a slideshow of the garden, which has been restored to its former glory, go to this article. For some shots of the southern belles who turned out for the grand reopening, go here.

Need advice or guidance from a Central Florida theme parks expert? Check out my ebooks for Kindle and Nook.

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