Weeki Wachee Springs
is one of Florida’s oldest and most unique roadside attractions. It’s located about an hour north of Tampa at the crossroads of U.S. 19 and State Road 50. For nearly 60 years, this 430-acre family-oriented park has “lured” visitors with beautiful mermaids who swim in the cool, clear spring waters, a mysterious blue underwater world full of manatees, turtles, otters and bubbling springs. Divers have never located the bottom of Weeki Wachee Spring. Each day, more than 170 million gallons of clear, fresh 72-degree water bubbles up out of the subterranean caverns. The basin of the spring is 100 feet wide with limestone sides, and it is there, where the mermaids swim, some 16 to 20 feet below the surface. The current runs a strong five miles per hour, so it’s quite a feat for the mermaids to stay in one place in such a current. Visitors actually feel as if they are inside the flowing spring, as they sit in the “Mermaid Theater” and watch the show. Peacocks roam the beautiful grounds at Weeki Wachee Springs, and visitors can pose with the mermaids, take a riverboat ride down the Weeki Wachee River, or even go swimming in the springs with the new Sea Diver program. Buccaneer Bay Water Park at Weeki Wachee Springs is located adjacent to the park. Weeki Wachee Springs is truly a part of Old Florida’s unique charm and heritage.
Weeki Wachee Springs Address and Phone Number
Weeki Wachee Springs
6131 Commercial Way
Weeki Wachee, FL 34606
Weeki Wachee Springs Rides and Attractions
The world famous mermaids have drawn visitors to Weeki Wachee Springs ever since 1947. They perform two shows daily in an underwater theater that is the only one of its’ kind in the world. There is no tank or aquarium, instead, the theater is built into the spring itself so that visitors can actually peer into the cool, pristine spring waters as they watch the mermaids perform aquatic ballets. A variety of Florida’s wildlife, such as fish, turtles, manatees and even an occasional alligator, sometimes join the show.
Other attractions at Weeki Wachee Springs include animal shows and the Wilderness River Boat Cruise. The latter takes you down the river into the Florida wilderness where you will see a variety of wildlife in their natural setting. You can also go diving in the springs and swim with a variety of fish, turtles and manatees. To dive you must come with a certified dive shop. For a list of shops that frequent the park, call Weeki Wachee Springs at the number provided on this web site.
The S.E.A Diver™ Surface Scuba Experience Program at Weeki Wachee Springs is a new way to experience the underwater world, that is much easier than diving. Participants are fitted with a scuba rig that allows them to breathe through a regulator and explore the underwater wonders of Weeki Wachee from the security of the surface. Novices will learn the basics of scuba diving, and will then be escorted on an educational tour of the Weeki Wachee Spring basin. Similar “surface” scuba diving programs have already been proven successful at many other locations. The program will utilize staff members who are certified and insured by the National Association of Underwater Instructors.
Weeki Wachee Springs also offers a mermaid camp program, which teaches children what it is like to be an underwater performer. There are two scheduled training sessions daily, and the last one is open for parents to see what their child has learned. Children participate in one mermaid show as a “dry performer.” Each child also receives a “mermaid makeover,” and a self-portrait in a mermaid tail, and also free passes for two daily admissions on the child’s scheduled camp weekend.
Buccaneer Bay Water Park at Weeki Wachee Springs includes slides, a lazy river for tubing, a kiddie pool, picnic areas and three beach sand volleyball areas.
Weeki Wachee Springs History
The Seminole Indians named the spring Weeki Wachee, which means “little spring,” or “winding river.” In 1946, Newton Perry, a former U.S. Navy frogman, conceived the idea of staying underwater and breathing through an air hose supplied by an air compressor. He perfected his idea with experiments at Weeki Wachee Springs. Perry then built an 18-seat theater into the limestone, submerged six feet below the surface of the spring, so that visitors could look right into the cool waters of the ancient spring. He scouted out pretty girls and trained them to swim with the air hoses, drink Grapette and do aquatic ballets – all underwater. The first show at Weeki Wachee Springs opened on October 13, 1947. The mermaids performed synchronized ballet moves underwater while breathing through the air hoses hidden in the scenery.
By the 1950s, Weeki Wachee Springs was one of the country’s top tourist attractions. It was then purchased by the American Broadcasting Co. (ABC) in 1959 and was heavily promoted. ABC also developed themes for the underwater shows, such as Underwater Circus and the Underwater Follies. In 1966, the town of Weeki Wachee was incorporated, putting it on the maps and state road signs. Buccaneer Bay Water Park was added to Weeki Wachee Springs in 1989.
Weeki Wachee Springs Park Map (click on map for larger view)