Mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs // Florida
Have you heard about the Mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park? A visit to this legendary park has been on our Florida bucket list since moving here a year ago. We finally stopped by in conjunction with a trip to Tampa.
Weeki Wachee was originally founded in 1947 as a tourist attraction in the natural spring showcasing a group of “stunt swimmers” using the air hose breathing technique to perform a show. In 1959 Weeki Wachee was purchased by ABC and things really took off. The current theater, which seats 400, was built 16 feet below the surface. The Weeki Wachee Mermaids were officially famous. In addition to the 8 sold out shows a day, the 35 Mermaids would hold underwater picnics and greet guests at spots around the park.
Weeki Wachee Springs is now a state park but Mermaid shows continue and are not to be missed. Mermaids perform 3 shows a day, every day, all year. There is no reason not to fit a Mermaid show into your Florida itinerary.
Prior to each Mermaid show there is 10 min Wildlife Program. Our guide was personable and answered questions about the springs and plants and animal we might find in the area. He brought a snake friend with him as well to show everyone.
Before the wildlife program begins, the TV screens in the theater show clips from the old mermaid shows. This was so fun to watch. (You can see some clips like this on YouTube.)
We attended the 10am mermaid show which was themed after ‘The Little Mermaid.’ It was a bit intense for our little ones. (The 1:30pm show was a traditional performance and may have been better for us.)
The mermaids were super cool to watch. They perform so many tricks under the water, using the air hoses to breath. Everything happens in this incredible natural water stage.
During the show it wasn’t uncommon for other creatures to swim past the windows as well. The Mermaids were joined by turtles and fish who live in the springs.
We sat in the center of the theater, but I think it would be better to find a seat as close to one of the windows as you can. This would have made it easier for the kids to see everything. Performances are quite crowded though, so arrive early to grab some seats.
Your park admission also includes a river boat ride down the river created by the spring water. You need to sign up for a time as soon as you arrive as there are typically more visitors than the boats can handle. (They will tell you how to sign up when you arrive, just make sure that you do that first!)
We’ve done quite a few of these boat rides. There is not a lot of wildlife to be seen in the summer, but we enjoyed the crystal clear water and fish swimming below us. The spring water looks so inviting on a hot day.
Weeki Wachee Springs also has its own water park, Buccaneer Bay. The waterslides drop you off right into the spring water. Buccaneer Bay has varying hours depending on the time of year, so make sure to check before your visit. It was already closed for the season when we visited, although the swimming hole was open to swim in the spring water.
There is a decent playground on site as well. This was perfect for burning off some energy before and after the Mermaid show. We enjoyed that the playground was in the shade, giving everyone some relief from the heat.
The food options here are limited. We did let everyone get a scoop of ice cream after the mermaid show but before our boat tour. You can bring your picnic, but the only picnic grounds are on the Buccaneer Bay side of the park.
If your travels don’t take you anywhere near Florida, you can still get your kids excited about the mermaids with the park’s “Tail Mail” program. The mermaids reply to letters from children under the age of 17.
In reply to our mermaid letter, the Big Little received a signed photo of the mermaid he wrote to as well as this lovely video from Prince James himself.
Weeki Watchee was a highlight of our trip. A lovely natural spring, the historical appeal of a 1950’s roadside attraction and a live mermaid show. We will certainly be returning next summer to check out Buccaneer Bay!