The Magical World of Mermaids in Weeki Wachee

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Do mermaids really exist? In a sleepy, small town called Weeki Wachee, Florida, they do! Three times a day, the mermaids in this underwater theater come alive. They perform choreographed routines to many popular themes with The Little Mermaid being an obvious favorite. The show is a little bit of synchronized swimming and a little bit of Cirque du Soleil, and it’s guaranteed to put smiles on the faces of all in attendance. There’s even a summer Mermaid Camp so that young ones can discover the magical world of mermaids all for themselves.

The Seminole Indians named the area Weeki Wachee, which translates to “little spring” or “winding river.” Each day, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh, 74-degree water rises from underground caverns.

In 1947, a retired US Navy Sailor named Newton Perry bought the land. After clearing the area, the beauty of the springs begged to be seen and appreciated by the masses. Perry created a way to breathe underwater by using an air hose and a compressor, and then he transformed beautiful girls into mermaids by teaching them to dance with grace and elegance underwater. Girls from around the world travelled to the small town to audition, and films like Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid were filmed there.

In 1959, ABC bought the park and built a much larger theater. The themes of the shows increased to include Underwater Circus, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, and the Underwater Follies.

Image via WeekiWachee.com
Image via WeekiWachee.com

The human-to-mermaid transformation is a difficult task. The process begins with land conditioning, and the mermaids must learn all of the dance routines on land before putting on their fins. Once the mermaids are underwater, they must learn to swim with one fin and learn to breathe from the air hose. Once those feats are accomplished, they must perform all of the routines that they learned above ground with one fin, breathing through a hose with a smile on their faces. Most of all, they are performers who must be “on” all of the time.

Buccaneer Bay — Florida’s only spring-fed waterpark — was built to accompany the Weeki Wachee Mermaids. Also, a river boat cruise, animal shows, scuba diving, kayaking,  and canoeing are all available activities at Weeki Wachee. There are more than 250,000 visitors to the City of Live Mermaids every year, even though the current population of Weeki Wachee is 9. As a former mermaid herself, the mayor of Weeki Wachee realizes the importance of this attraction to the survival to the local economy. Weeki Wachee Springs even became a Florida state park in 2008 and has been revitalized since coming under the direction of the state park system. This attraction is certainly a must do for anyone looking for a “must do” while in Florida.

 

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