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The Mermaid Show at Weeki Wachee, Spring Hill, Florida – On The Watch List Spring Hill, FL

Posted on: January 10, 2010

Thanks to our pals over at Roadside Online we hear that rumors are flying ’round the internet that the mermaid show in Weeki Wachee Florida might be too tacky to be included in what now has turned into Weeki Wachee State Park. Within the past few years the fate of The City of Live Mermaids has been in jeopardy as families drive past in search of more “extreme” family fun. So bump the kitschy city of Weeki Wachee to the top of your list of 2010 Retro Roadmap destinations, in case this bit of Florida roadside history ends up on the endangered species list.weeki wachee

Weeki Wachee is a Seminole Indian name for “little spring” or “winding river” and the mermaid show has been located at this natural fresh water spring since 1947. Story goes that the bottom of this fresh water spring has never been found, which is pretty cool if you ask me. When you visit the park you can take a boat tour of the winding river admiring the flora and fauna, which we did, but who are we kidding? We came here for the Mermaids!

where I live

The Mermaid show attraction was started by Newton Perry a former US Navy frogman, who developed a way of staying under water for extended periods of time by breathing through an air hose. He taught pretty local gals to use this technique and perform choreographed water ballet at the same time. The mermaids don’t swim in a man made pool-  the theater was built into the basin of the Weeki Wachee spring so folks could see the show through the clear spring water.
swimmin' with the fishes

When we were there we found the place charming with the giant seashell to sit in for a photo, big gold fish swimming in the ponds, manatees visible from the slow boat ride through the river and concrete alligators dotting the paths. The Mermaid Theater was a bit dark and dank (um, what else should I expect from an underground water theater??) but recently carpeting on the walls of the theater was pulled back to reveal original ceramic tiles in those fabulous Florida colors of teal, pink and aqua.

While the mermaid show is geared towards a kid audience with its reference to The Little Mermaid, I found it to be wonderfully dated in places, in a way that made me feel like I was watching one of the original shows from the 1950’s.  I have to admit to being caught up in the grace and beauty of the mermaids and swimmers floating effortlessly in front of us as we sat in the darkened underground theater, as folks had been doing for 60+ years before us.

weeki wachee flag

Do yourselves a favor and follow the siren song of this unique American roadside attraction and visit it soon, lest it not be there much longer. Support these fine finned fillies and the fond Florida vacation memories they have created  for all of us.

Become a friend of Weeki Wachee and the mermaids on Facebook!

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  • rick

    Excellent post!

    • Mod Betty / Retro Roadmap

      Thanks! It warmed me up on a cold Pennsylvania morning just to write it. Can’t wait for our visit to Florida in just a few weeks!

  • Gunnar

    I was lucky enough to visit this place with my Grandma in the early 70s. Would love to go back!

    • Mod Betty / Retro Roadmap

      Gunnar, that must’ve been cool to see the place in the 1970’s- my grandmother lived (and still does, at the ripe old age of 91) in New Hampshire, so I didn’t get to visit Florida until well into my 20’s. Going to try and make up for missing a lot back then during our week long stay down south coming up soon- can’t wait!

  • Coleen

    Love this post. My parents lived in Spring Hill in the late 90s. This brings back a few good memories and made me smile! Thank you.

    • Mod Betty / Retro Roadmap

      Coleen – thanks so much for swinging by Retro Roadmap and glad I put a smile on your face! I have fond memories of visiting the area too, I know what you mean!

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  • Hecvhanetskes

    You may wish to reconsider your understanding of the meaning of the words Weeki Wachee which you state to mean “Little Spring” or “Winding River”.

    Weeki appears to be an English corruption of the Mvskoke/Seminole word “Uekiwv” (“way-gay-wuh” meaning “Spring” or “water well”) and a Miccosukee (note variant spellings for Miccosukee) word “wace” (“Wah-chee”).

    In Miccosukee the word “wace” means “Mother”. Thus, the word “Uekiwace” (“way-gay-wah-chee) would be translated as “Spring Mother” or finally as “Mother Spring”.

    This would make more sense than interpreting it as “Little Spring”. I mean really, isn’t it patently obvious that this is one BIG spring? Why would the Seminoles/Miccosukees/Mvskokes call it Little Spring?

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