Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

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Visit Florida’s City of Live Mermaids

kayakers on Weeki Wachee Springs
water slide at Buccaneer Bay
kayakers on Weeki Wachee Springs

Becoming a State Park in 2008, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park continues to offer great memories for families and fun day of fun. In addition to the mermaid show performances, the park has a riverboat ride, a wildlife program, and swimming in the pristine waters at Buccaneer Bay, Florida’s only spring-fed waterpark. Here kids and adults alike can splash and play against a background of stunning blues and greens.

Flowing from the spring, the Weeki Wachee River winds its way 12 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Visitors can enjoy an unforgettable experience paddling down the winding Weeki Wachee River by booking a kayak rental from Weeki Fresh Water Adventures.

Newton Perry Underwater Mermaid Theatre

An Iconic Floridian Attraction

The name “Weeki Wachee” comes from the Seminole language, meaning “little spring” or “winding river.”

In 1946, Newton Perry, a former U.S. Navy man who trained Navy Frogmen to swim underwater in World War II, scouted out Weeki Wachee and invented a method of breathing underwater from a free-flowing air hose. The first mermaids, known as the ‘Aquabelles,’ learned how to control their breath and swim with the air hoses.

On October 13, 1947, the doors opened at the original 18-seat theater, built into the limestone so viewers could look right into the natural beauty of the ancient spring. The mermaids performed synchronized ballet moves underwater while breathing through the air hoses hidden in the scenery. Stunned audiences watched as they performed tricks like drinking a Grapette or eating a banana while underwater.

By the 1960s, Weeki Wachee was one of the nation’s most popular tourist stops. The glamorous mermaids performed eight shows a day to sold-out crowds and as many as half a million people a year came to see them, including Elvis Presley, Don Knotts, Esther Williams and Arthur Godfrey.

mermaids performing underwater at Weeki Wachee Springs

Visit Mermaid Memories on YouTube

To commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Weeki Wachee Springs, the Florida’s Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau created a video series highlighting individuals who played a unique part in the early days of Weeki Wachee Springs. The series, named “Mermaid Memories,” includes interviews with those who shared their memories of the park and how it has evolved since. To watch the interviews from the collection, visit Mermaid Memories on our YouTube Channel.

Weeki Wachee Springs: A Natural Wonder

This quintessential ‘old Florida’ site is also home to one of the deepest freshwater cave systems in the country. The spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found. Each day, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 74-degree water bubbles up out of subterranean caverns. Deep in the spring, the surge of the current is so strong that it can knock a scuba diver’s mask off.

The basin of the spring is 100 feet wide with limestone sides and there, where the mermaids swim, 16 to 20 feet below the surface, the current runs a strong five miles an hour. It’s quite a feat for a mermaid to stay in one place in such a current, as park guests watch through the windows of a 400-seat theater built into the spring.

boat ride on the Weeki Wachee River