If you grew up in Florida, you probably remember the Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaid Show. When I announced to friends that I was taking Little S to the Mermaid Show in Weeki Wachee Springs, a number of my friends began to recount fun memories of their road trip adventure to see the mermaids themselves. The Mermaid Show is a little piece of old kitschy Florida. There have been some additions since it first opened in the 1940s, but it is still a quintessential roadside attraction.
The mermaid show was the brainchild of a former Navy man who trained SEALS to swim underwater during World War II. He cleaned the trash out of the springs, found some girls, and trained them to swim underwater while doing tricks. They breathed through air hoses back then and still do in today’s shows. Because there was not much traffic passing by the springs, the girls would run out to the road in their swimsuits when they heard a car coming. When the passengers in the car decided to stay for the show, the girls would jump into the springs and put on their performance. Over the next few years, the show grew and it became an honor to be a mermaid at Weeki Wachee. Weeki Wachee became a Florida State Park in 2008 and that will hopefully continue to preserve this little piece of Florida history.
The mermaid show is held in an underwater theater that was constructed in 1960. The shows vary but there are currently two, The Little Mermaid and Fish Tails Mermaid Show. We saw The Little Mermaid.
Things To Know Before You Go
The line for entrance into the theater begins to form about 45 minutes before the doors open. If you want to get in at a certain time, line up early.
Sit as close to the front as possible. We foolishly thought that the closer we sat, the less we would see because of the way the theater is set up. It seems as if you will be able to see the whole show from the back of the theater but, unfortunately (as you can see from my pictures), it is difficult to see around the different windows of the theater.
Wet swimsuits are not allowed in the theater so if you have visited Buccaneer Bay, be sure to give yourself time to dry off completely.
Though Weeki Wachee has more than just two lanes connecting it to the world, there is still not much around it. We stayed at a very inexpensive roadside motel, the Springhill Florida Quality Inn. It cost us less than $50 for the night and is located across the street from Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. The hotel is old and kind of beat up but we had a clean room and it served its purpose as a stopping point in between the Florida Keys and our home in Pensacola. We woke up early, grabbed a quick breakfast and headed across the street to begin our day.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is not just home to the mermaid shows. When you pay your entrance fee, you get access to everything in the park. Plan to spend an entire day there. You can take a river boat cruise, learn about the animals that live in the park at the Animal Show, have a picnic and play in Buccaneer Bay.
Things to Know Before You Go
Buccaneer Bay is a small water park that has been built over the natural springs in Weeki Wachee. You will not only be swimming with people but also fish, turtles and the occasional manatee or even an alligator. For the record, all we saw were fish and turtles.
There is an area to swim in, a couple of flume rides, and a lazy river ride through the springs.
The springs are cold! The springs are 74 degrees year round. It was a little overcast when we visited and the water was very chilly. We didn’t last too long.
Because these are natural springs, the bottom changes very quickly. Stay close to your little ones because the ground can quickly disappear out from under their feet.
You can’t beat the price tag for this day long adventure. Adult entrance fee is $13 and it is $8 for children ages 6-12. Children five and under are free.