The Seminole Indians named the area Weeki Wachee which means “little spring” or winding river,” and more than 117 million gallons of water flow from the subterranean caverns daily.
Newton Perry, an American Swimmer and an advisor to Hollywood aquatic movie productions, purchased Weeki Wachee Spring in 1946, and in 1947 he opened it as one of Florida’s first roadside attractions. Perry was often called The Human Fish and was once billed as the greatest swimmer in America, and it is he that invented the air supply system for the park’s biggest and most famous attraction, The Weeki Wachee Mermaids.
In 1947, the theater built into the limestone and six feet below the surface of the springs only held 18 seats, but in 1959 things dramatically changed when ABC (the American Broadcasting Company) purchased the springs. ABC built a new 400 seat submerged theater, and in the 1950s, way before a certain mouse moved to Florida, Weeki Wachee Springs was one of the nation’s most popular attractions drawing tourists and celebrities alike.
In the 1970s, that certain mouse moved into central Florida and quickly became Florida’s new hot attraction. Sadly the mermaids couldn’t keep up with the mouse and his hi-tech friends, and Weeki Wachee ticket sales went into decline. So in 2008, the State of Florida took over Weeki Wachee Springs in an effort to preserve the historical significance of the park and the spring itself.
If Mermaids Weren’t Enough
Admission to Weeki Wachee State Park also includes Buccaneer Bay, Florida’s only spring-fed water park. Visitors can take a relaxing swim in the crystal clear spring water, or if you have a thrill-seeker in the family, Buccaneer Bay also features two fun-filled water slides. A water play area is also provided for children under 6.
During the hot summer months, Buccaneer Bay would make a great place for a family picnic in the park, with a white sandy beach, lounge chairs, picnic tables, and a constant 72-degree spring to cool off in; your family day couldn’t be more perfect. Bring your picnic, coolers are allowed, or if you prefer, concessions are available throughout the park.
Due to drought conditions and water levels being low in the Weeki Wachee River, the Riverboat tour was not operational during our visit. When running, the riverboat tour takes visitors on a cruise that offers a tranquil view of the river and the natural wildlife that calls this area home. The Riverboat Tour is included in your admission price.
The Ranger Experience
A beautiful walk down Tranquility Trail takes visitors to Discovery Point and The Ranger Experience presentation. Visitors can sit back, relax and watch one of the Weeki Wachee Rangers take you through the natural habitats at the springs. Learn about the turtles, alligators, snakes, and other wildlife in the area.
Weeki Wachee State Park is located at 6131 Commercial Way in Spring Hill, Florida. Hours are 9 am – 5 pm. The admission price is $13 for adults, $8 for children ages 6 to 12. Ages five and under admitted free.
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