Feb 1, 2020

Magnificent Mermaids

Magnificent Mermaids

The Weeki Wachee Mermaid show at the Weeki Wachee State Park, about 30 miles north of Tampa was many things, fun, filled with history, amazing, inspiring and unique. I'm not aware of any other underwater mermaid shows, I will definitely research.

The mermaids at Weeki Wachee have been performing since 1947, that's 73 years. They actually swim in the head of the spring, in a crater, bowl like setting, the audience members actually sit in a giant tank with stadium seating, viewing thru large windows. It's like you are looking at a giant aquarium, but the audience is enclosed and the mermaids are not. They are in the actual springs.

The Weeki Wachee springs produce more than 117 million gallons of water daily, enough water to fill an olympic size swimming pool EVERY SIX minutes. The springs create a river that flows six miles out to the ocean. Newton Perry is the man who came up with the idea of the mermaid show and he developed the hose mechanism that supplies the performers with oxygen.

The mermaids are part of the show in the water and part of the show as the audience members are ushered into the seating area. I spoke with Mermaid Brittany at length. She is originally from Ohio, she was a dive master prior to being a mermaid and has been performing for over 2 years. One of the other mermaids in the show yesterday, has been performing for 15 years. They can perform in all three shows on the same day, and Brittany said "she never gets used to the cold" in the water. Even during the summer, because they are in the water for 45 minutes, she says her body gets cold. They do all their costume changes in the water, they lip sync to the songs, they dance in unison
and you can certainly see the smiles on their faces while they are performing.
Brittany loves being a mermaid, her actual job title with the state of Florida is Park Ranger Mermaid.

I loved the show, it was all I'd imagined over the years. We actually attended two shows, one was a show based on the Little Mermaid, and the second show was based on Weeki Wachee history and how they put on the show. The second show includes historical information and they have TV's in the seating area where they show videos of long ago Weeki Wachee. They even include a ecology component and narrate how the springs are being polluted with run off from fertilizer toxins.

People in the audience were from as far as Sweden, Peru, California, Utah, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Probably 80% of the audience was first time attendees, and 20% had been to the park before.

The Weeki Wachee State Park is very simple. They have the Mermaid Show, a boat ride on the actual spring fed river, and an area where in the summer months you can swim in the springs. The park is actually in the city of Weeki Wachee. As the crow flies, this park is about 3 hours car drive from Jacksonville.

For anyone who likes water, or who is a kid at heart, I would definitely recommend visiting Weeki Wachee. And for sure not in the summer, the mermaids said the crowds are thick everyday. The park has a capacity threshold and usually in the summer the park reaches the attendee limit by 9am.

There are many natural fed springs in the north Florida area mainly on the west side of the state. I had no idea there were so many. The springs are complimented by many rivers and many lakes. The area has many companies and outfitters that provide kayak tours, swim with the manatee tours and camping and RV parks all over. Some of the springs are known around the world for cavern diving and experienced divers come to enjoy this type of dive.

I was surprised at how crystal clear and sparkling the springs water is. It's like a swimming pool, but a million times more enchanting. The water seems a bit thicker than pool water, the fluidity of the water has more body and mystery.

I absolutely love the springs and plan to come back and visit the area soon.

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