Weeki Wachee Springs - Orlando / Florida Guide
Florida Guide > Owners Vacation Diary
Following a recent visit to Florida some friends of ours mentioned that they had set out to visit Weeki Wachee Springs and see the mermaids, but had turned round due to bad weather. So, on our latest trip my wife and I decided to go and see exactly what our friends had missed.
Driving west along Florida State Road 50 until it ended at Highway 19, we found the entrance to the park just a few yards along Hwy 19 having first turned left onto it.
We arrived at about 11. 30 am and with just a handful of cars already parked up we had paid our car parking ($5) and entrance fee (just $12 each – as we get Seniors rates! ) and entered the park within five minutes.
As the map of the park did not give us any real idea of its size, we decided to head for the Wilderness River Cruise at the far end of the park before returning to the underwater theatre to catch the 1. 30pm performance of Fish Tails, one of the two Mermaid shows. However, as we approached the Riverside Theatre it became clear that we had plenty of time to catch the 12 o’clock Bird Show, as well as the boat ride!
The bird show featured two Amazon Blues, two green macaws and a white cockatiel demonstrating a variety of tricks and while it wasn’t Flights of Wonder (the Animal Kingdom bird show) it was nevertheless an entertaining twenty minutes.
We then pressed on to the river cruise that was due to depart at approximately 12. 30. The cruise lasted about twenty-five minutes and our ‘captain’ was most informative. The spring emits about 170 million gallons of water per day and has been measured as 99. 7% pure. In the crystal clear waters we were able to see pipefish, mullet and other fish. The mullet is a vegetarian fish and can be seen jumping out of the water - not to catch flies but to get rid of sand and gravel by bashing its gills on waters surface.
The Captain told us that we might be lucky to see deer coming to drink – but not gaters! This must be one of few areas of water in Florida that does not claim to have alligators, although they did have one a few years ago but Park Rangers removed it to a sanctuary.
On our way back from the river cruise we stopped off for a snack at the Mermaid Galley Restaurant and bought two excellent value ‘meal deals’ – sandwich, crisps and drink. It was then onto the first Mermaid show.
The shows are viewed from an underwater theatre, while the performers are in the waters of the spring that can be seen rising behind them. Fish Tails is a live underwater show that gives a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how the mermaids (and mermen) perform their routines and take air from breathing tubes, whilst performing underwater acrobatics and even lip synching to songs while remaining submerged for up to twenty minutes. I have to admit that while I went with a view that the show might be a bit ‘tacky’, I came away with a high regard for the athleticism of the performers.
Before the main show, an underwater musical interpretation of Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘Little Mermaid’, we had time for another presentation in the Riverside Stadium. This time one of the Park staff gave an informative talk entitled ‘Scary Creatures’ which featured an Iguana, an African Desert Lizard, a Chilean Rosy-legged Tarantula, a Cane Toad and a small African Ball Python; so-called as it rolls up when attacked.
The Little Mermaid show again demonstrated the skills of the performers and also treated us to the sight of some freshwater turtles who seemed to enjoy ‘boogying’ in the bubbles of the air tubes, while occasional shoals of fish also got in on the act.
All in all we spent a relaxed end enjoyable four hours for less than $25 per person including lunch. Quite a bargain!
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Page added on: 30 July 2009
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