Mermaid Show at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Mermaid Show at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Known for its iconic mermaid show and deep underwater caves, Weeki Wachee Springs is undoubtedly one of the Sunshine State’s most famous attractions. A symbol to the retro age of tourism, the springs feature a large underwater theater, boat tours, and even trails that wind through the landscape of the park. From the Buccaneer Bay Waterpark to classic photo op stations, this state park welcomes visitors to uncover decades of fun and history in a magical experience.

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Named by the Seminole Indians who lived in much of early Florida, Weeki Wachee Springs has long been a tourist attraction. When former WWII Navy Frogman, Newton Perry came to Weeki Wachee in 1946, he came up with an innovative idea. He found the springs to be the perfect place to create an underwater tourist attraction, despite the rural location. However, starting the business had obstacles, including the fact that the spring had been used as a dumping ground for locals for quite some time. Mr. Perry had to coordinate the cleaning of the spring that removed dozens of old appliances, tires, debris and even cars.

Using his Frogmen training, Mr. Perry discovered a way to allow his underwater performers to breathe using free flowing air hoses. This invention would give the illusion that the performers were able to withstand being underwater for long periods of time. The next stage of his business venture would require finding performers.

Scouting the local area for attractive young women to play the role of mermaids, Newton Perry soon gathered a group of women to perform in his underwater show. They trained in the springs and were taught to eat, drink and perform ballet moves beneath the surface. By the time the attraction opened to the public, Mr. Perry had constructed an 18-seat underwater theater for visitors to watch his unique attraction.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Florida
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Florida | Violet Sky Adventures

By the 1950s, Weeki Wachee Springs had become an iconic tourist destination for Florida, along with one of the state’s first well known places to visit. It gained so much popularity that in 1959, the American Broadcast Company (ABC) purchased the attraction. ABC constructed the present day 400 seat underwater theater that allowed viewers to watch performances from up to 16 feet below the springs surface. The springs had gained world fame and young women from around the globe auditioned to become one of the 35 casted “Weeki Wachee Mermaids”.

The Weeki Wachee Springs were visited by numerous celebrities including Esther Williams, Don Knotts and Arthur Godfrey. During the 1961 filming of Follow That Dream in nearby Crystal River area, Elvis Presley visited the springs.

Things to Do

Weeki Wachee Springs

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Florida
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Weeki Wachee Springs is home to the deepest freshwater cave system in the country. This claim was confirmed by dive teams and scientists in 2007. Staying a refreshing 74 degrees year round, the spring releases 117 million gallons of water each day. This spring has such a fast current that it has been known to rip the masks off scuba divers near the entrance to the cave.

Mermaid Show

Since the 1940s, mermaids have been performing in the 100-foot wide Weeki Wachee Spring. The shows they perform change throughout the seasons and years to keep it exciting and fresh for returning visitors. In the area in which the mermaids swim, the current is about 5 miles per hour. This makes the ability for the performers to stay in place that much more fascinating. Every year, there are scheduled performances by former mermaids of Weeki Wachee to come show off their amazing skills with fellow stars once again.

Boat Tours

Boat Tour at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Boat Tour at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Embark on an adventure along the crystal clear waters of the Weeki Wachee River. This boat tour winds along the river to reveal native vegetation and wildlife in a semi-tropical rainforest. The boat tour may allow visitors to catch glimpses of alligators, manatees and other notable creatures who call the area home.

Manatee at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Manatee at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Kayak (or Paddle) the River

In addition to the boat tour, the Weeki Wachee River can be traversed by paddleboard or kayak. Rentals are available within the park. The river is 12 miles long as it flows out to the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the river is crystal clear, just like the springs.

Buccaneer Bay Waterpark

Buccaneer Bay at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Florida
Buccaneer Bay at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Florida | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Located right across the spring from the theater is the Buccaneer Bay Waterpark. This waterpark has been open since 1982 and features fun outdoor activities including watersides, swimming area and much more.

Plan Your Visit

Dive into this yesteryear attraction and uncover the beautiful natural landscape of one of Florida’s most beloved springs. Within the state park there is a concession stand and restaurant to stop by during your visit. Also, don’t forget to snap your picture with several of the classic photo op displays throughout the park.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is located at 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606.

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