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Bonnet Springs Park aims to be ‘Central Park for Central Florida’

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Posted at 6:02 PM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 22:42:49-04

LAKELAND, Fla. — With its grand opening just a couple of months away, the final touches are being made for Lakeland’s massive new natural attraction.

Larger than Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Bonnet Springs Park will be a place for visitors to learn and connect to nature.

“It’s really going to be a beautiful space when it’s all said and done,” said Bonnet Springs Park CEO Josh Henderson.

What was once a blighted rail yard has been transformed into a 168-acre natural attraction for visitors to enjoy. Thirty-six tons of illegally dumped garbage was removed off the property to restore the park to where it is today.

“The land was so damaged from all the pollution that we didn’t come across a single snake or frog or anything like that. Here we are two years later, if you come out here in the evening there will be fish flipping their tails,” said Henderson. “There will be birds eating the fish. We have a family of bobcats that live on the property. We have an alligator out there.”

The free public park, which cost $110 million to build, was all funded through private donations.

“We think we’re going to be the Central Park for Central Florida,” Henderson said.

It includes the Allen & Company family lawn for events and shows. “Whether it’s a craft festival or a concert, or a car show, we can seat, several thousand people out here,” said Henderson.

There is also the Florida Children's Museum, a tree house, butterfly habitat, greenhouse, a lagoon, history center, wedding hall and much more. When the park opens on October 22, it will be a destination for visitors to escape and become one with nature.

“Lakeland is on the rise, and we want to see everybody in Lakeland come out and enjoy this facility,” said Henderson.