City of Mermaids
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Weeki Wachee, Florida
submitted by UrbanDragon (Scott)
The UrbanDragon is back with some great photos from his 2004 visit to the City of the Mermaids. Wow, how cool is this?! I wish I could hop on my bike and ride down to Weeki Wachee right this minute!
Don’t miss the links at the end of the post (learn more about the history of Weeki Wachee and see some terrific vintage mermaid photos!)
Florida has long been a desired vacation spot and thus a magnet for roadside attractions. The natural beauty of the place and the steady stream of traffic from tourists seeking a respite from the cold northern winters gave rise to many attempts to get the tourist dollar along the route.
The city of Weeki Wachee is about an hour north of Tampa on US 19 along the gulf coast. In 1946 a man named Newton Perry built an underwater theater at one of the many natural crystal clear springs throughout the state. He trained the first mermaids, women dressed in fish tails performing balletic moves underwater with the assistance of hidden air hoses. The park first opened in 1947.
It was a fairly popular attraction throughout the 50s and 60s, the wall of memorabilia includes a photograph of Elvis at the attraction and the Don Knotts film “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” held its premiere there in 1964 with the screen setup underwater where the mermaids swim.
The creation of Interstate 75 and the opening of Disney World in nearby Orlando slowed the traffic to the attraction. A waterslidepark “Buccaneer Bay” was added — as well as a river boat tour.
Weeki Wachee Springs became a state park in November of 2008, preserving a unique and beautiful part of Florida’s history.
Official Site – has some great photo galleries
State Park Site– history and great vintage photos
National Geographic article – from 2004, regarding the effort to save the attraction by the mermaids