21 Feb Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs
According to their website, Weeki Wachee Springs is “The Only City of Live Mermaids!”; and, if that doesn’t intrigue you, well then you probably have similar interests to Micah and the majority of adults around the world.
When we were in Crystal River, FL, for our snorkeling with the manatees adventure, we passed a sign that stated: Weeki Wachee Springs 25 miles. I squealed with joy and told Micah that we just had to make a little detour to visit the mermaids. After all, The Little Mermaid was my favorite movie growing up and upon seeing this park featured on the Travel Channel when I was younger, I just knew I had to pay Ariel a visit one day when the opportunity presented itself. Well today was the day, and after a slight roll of his eyes and a chuckle at my regression into childhood, Micah agreed and off we went to delve into life under the sea.
Basically, the park consists of a Mermaid Theater, a river boat cruise, animal shows, a few restaurants and a water park called Buccaneer Bay. You are also able to dive and kayak around the springs when you book a tour through an outside tour company. We only had enough time to watch one mermaid show and jump on the river boat cruise, but we didn’t feel as though we were really missing out on anything else. The park is definitely past its glory days back in the 50’s, but it can still be a fun spot for kids (or big kids like me), especially on a warm day when the water park is open.
There are two different mermaid shows performed throughout the day; the first show is The Little Mermaid, which is a shortened version of the Disney movie. The other show is called Fish Tails; it is a show where the mermaids perform underwater feats such as eating, drinking, and musical numbers, and they give you a behind the scenes view into the technical aspects of the show as well. We made it just in time for the last showing of The Little Mermaid, and it was filled with all the cheesy goodness that I was expecting.
One of the things I loved about the show was the technical aspect behind it and the intriguing spring itself. The mermaids breathe through underwater breathing hoses where flowing oxygen is supplied from an air compressor; this allows the mermaids to swim freely without tanks.
As for the spring itself, it is so deep that no one has ever been able to find the bottom–every day, there are more than 117 million gallons of water that come up out of the caverns deep below. The current runs about 5 miles an hour, so the mermaids have quite a hard task to stay swimming in one area during the show. When the park was created, a submerged theater was built so that viewers could have a look directly into the spring in an aquarium type setting. This first theater was only 18 seats and 6 feet underground, but the theater was rebuilt in the 50’s and it now seats 500 and rests at 16 feet underground. During its heydays, the park received around a half million visitors per year; women from around the world came to audition for a job as a mermaid, and stars such as Elvis Presley and Arthur Godfrey even stopped in for a visit. How could you not be excited for this trip back to old-time Florida? I clearly was:
After the show, we hopped on the river boat cruise for a trip through the beautiful nature of the area. The 20 minute boat ride takes you down the Weeki Wachee River on a relaxed narrated tour, where the scenery consists of sparkling clear water, lush trees and lots of wildlife. We caught a glimpse of many varieties of birds and even a water moccasin, which absolutely terrified Micah due to his fear of snakes (cue chuckle repayment from Jenna).
While I enjoyed visiting the park and watching the performance live, Micah will surely give me a hard time for years to come for dragging him to this silly roadside attraction!