Weeki Wachee National State Park kept popping up when I was researching for a trip through northern Florida. At first I read: “A place to stop and see real mermaids swim”. Wait – what? Mermaids? After that, all I wanted was to get there and see the Weeki Wachee Mermaid Show.
Weeki Wachee is a magical place. Mermaids have been swimming in its water for over 60 years. We were lucky to go there the day we did which coincided with a visit from former mermaids. They were all retired and between their 50’s and 60’s. It was an amazing treat to witness the voluntary show that they put up once a month. They introduce themselves and give a little background about their absolute love and deep camaraderie with each other before the show.
It is easy to see how grateful they are for being able to be a part of the park. They say that “Weeki Wachee Springs is their own personal Fountain of Youth”. I believed it!
The Weeki Wachee Story Exposed
- Newton Perry, who belonged to the U.S. Navy and trained SEALS to swim underwater in WW II, scouted out Weeki Wachee as a good site for a different kind of in 1946.
- An 18-seat theater was built into the limestone and submerged six feet below the surface of the spring, so viewers could look right into the natural beauty of the place.
- Newton searched for pretty girls and trained them to swim with air hoses and smile at the same time. That’s how the first mermaids were born.
- He also taught them to drink Grapette, a non-carbonated beverage, eat bananas underwater and do aquatic ballets.
- The first show at the Weeki Wachee Springs underwater theater was in October 1947.
- In the 1950s, Weeki Wachee was one of the nation’s most popular tourist stops.
- Its golden days began in 1959, when the spring was purchased by the American Broadcasting Co. ABC built the current theater, which seats 500 visitors and is embedded in the side of the spring 16 feet below the surface.
- The mermaids have performed Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Snow White, Little Mermaid, Peter Pan and other classics.
- Buccaneer Bay opened in 1982 with water slides and a white sand beach.
- In September 2003 Weeki Wachee was threatened with permanent closing if it can’t make repairs, upgrade their facilities and return to profitability.
- Weeki Wachee Mayor and park manager is leading an effort to raise funds.
- The “Save Our Tails” campaign asked for donations from the public in order to do improvements. It also encouraged letter writing to Florida authorities to preserve America’s Last Live Mermaid Attraction.
- In 2005, English rock band Supergrass filmed their video for their song “Low C” at the Springs.
- The band also filmed a short documentary about the spring, while playing at a local bar and swimming with the mermaids.
- In summer of 2006, standup comedian Thomas J. Kelly became the park’s first ever male mermaid. His adventures were chronicled in a Web television series called “The Little Merman”.
- From May 22 until August 30, 2007, the discharge level at Weeki Wachee spring dropped low enough to allow cave divers to gain effective entry into the cave system at the spring.
- The park celebrated its 60th anniversary in august 2007.
- In 2008, Weeki Wachee Springs proudly became one of Florida’s newest state parks!
- Today, the tiny city of Weeki Wachee is one of the nation’s smallest cities, with a population of 12, including the mayor of Weeki Wachee who is a former mermaid.
More Fun Facts
- The spring was named by Semiole Natives. “Weeki Wachee” means “little spring” or “winding river.”
- The Weeki Wachee River winds its way 12 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.
- The spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found. Not even in 2007.
- Each day, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 74-degree water bubbles up out of subterranean caverns.
- Deep in the spring, the current is so strong that it can knock scuba divers’ mask off.
- The basin of the spring is 100 feet wide. The mermaids swim in it – 16 to 20 feet below the surface, the current runs a strong five miles an hour.
- Even Elvis, Don Knotts, Esther Williams, and Arthur Godfrey all came to Weeki Wachee.
Weeki Wachee Today
The more I researched about this park the more my excitement grew. I decided to devote a full day to the park. Plus, it is always good to do one thing at a time with kids.
In reality, I also thought the park was much bigger than it was. But, at the same time, Buccaneer Bay (the water park) was closed because we were there during winter months. Without the water park fun, the park can be done in three hours. Maybe more, it depends on the amount of shows you want to see.
What to Do on Your Weeki Wachee Trip
The main attractions were the Weeki Wachee mermaids. You could choose between multiple shows during the weekdays and more on weekends. (Go to the bottom to find the schedule).
But that is not all, there was also a fun playground where we spent most of our time. It was a good place to go to while waiting for the shows.
There was also a 20 minute boat ride called the River cruise. During the tour a guide provides interesting information about the area, local wildlife and the springs. They offer several hours during the day.
Plus, a fun animal show.
The Weeki Wachee Mermaid Show
Truthfully, this was the reason you come to the park. I recommend enjoying as many as you could. I knew that we weren’t going back so this was my only chance to see as much as I could. Luckily we were able to catch two shows.
The first one was of the former mermaids. It was really impressive to see women in their 50’s and 60’s doing acts that 30 year olds would have trouble performing.
Then we saw the ‘The Little Mermaid’ show. This was performed by the newest mermaid class.
They even took it outside the springs and on to the main stage.
Observation – as a female I was very excited to visit such a place. But I noticed that 90% of the families there had little girls. Luckily my boys were still at an age where they still trust me to show them a good time but my husband wasn’t too happy. He was one of the few men in the audience. Even the families were mainly comprised of mamas and grandmas with the little girls.
Personally, I think this is a place for everyone. But I could definitely see why this would be more of a draw for girls.
Information on Visiting Weeki Wachee
Address: 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606
Phone: (352) 592-5656 (hours are 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.)
- Adult: $13.00;
- Child (Ages 6 – 12): $8.00;
- Children 5 and under: FREE
The daily admission price above includes access to Buccaneer Bay, mermaid shows, reptile shows and river boat ride.
Yearly passes: $60 per person, it includes free admission to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and Buccaneer Bay Waterpark. This is a Florida State Park pass, and can be purchased at any Florida state park.
Rental Items and prices:
- Stroller: $3.00
- Wheelchair: $3.00
- Electric Cart: $15.00
Buccaneer Bay Rental Items:
- Single Tube: $8
- Double Tube: $12
- Triple Tube: $15
- Regular Locker Rental: $5
- Large Locker Rental: $10
Hours: Weeki Wachee Springs State park is open daily from 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (*365 days a year)
- The Little Mermaid – 11 a.m. & 3 p.m.
- Fish Tails Mermaid Show – 1:30 p.m. (Saturday & Sunday only through Dec. 22)
- Animal Show – 10 a.m., 12 p.m. & 2:15 p.m.
- River Boat Cruise – First cruise departs at 10 a.m.; Last boat departs at 4:30 p.m.
- Thanksgiving and Christmas Day – River Cruise 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. – Animal Show – 1:45 p.m. – Fish Tails Mermaid Show 2:30 p.m.