Enjoy your Family Friendly Getaway to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park for Water Activities, Boat Rides, and Mermaid Shows!
Two things make Weeki Wachee Springs State Park more unique than all the other state parks in Florida and is a perfect family-friendly getaway: It has the only water park located at a natural spring and the only spring with a live mermaid show.
The unusual name of Weeki Wachee was given to the spring by the Seminole Indians. The Indian name means “winding river” or “little spring”. Not sure about the “little” part of the spring, as it is 100 feet across at the head basin and the river created by the spring runs 12 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. The park itself encompasses 538 acres.
Current pricing to enter the park and take advantage of all amenities is $13 for adults (same price for Seniors) and $8 for children ages 6-12 (free for 5 and under). This has to be one of the best deals in the entire state! Enjoy the entire day from 9am to 5:30pm. Compare to pricing to get into other notable water parks in Florida and you can see the savings add up for any size family.
Let’s start with Buccaneer Bay Water Park and its amenities: water slides, lazy river, kiddie pool, white sand beach, picnic areas, restrooms/shower station are all included in the entry fee. There are rental opportunities for beach chairs or shade tents, lazy river floats, and lockers. Also available are the seasonal concession stands for hot and cold snacks/sandwiches/beverages. Did I mention the low cost to use this water park all day? WOW, what a bargain!
Before we talk about the Mermaid show, we need to go back in time to when the spring was purchased in 1946 by a former trainer of US Navy Frogmen, Newt Perry. He envisioned using the Weeki Wachee Springs for Mermaid shows, and invented the method of breathing from underwater free-flowing air hoses so the mermaids could perform synchronized ballet moves as well as eat a banana and drink a beverage, all while underwater! (Prior to the Mermaid show you will see old film footage of these underwater feats).
The first Mermaid show at Weeki Wachee Springs was on October 13, 1947. By 1950, Weeki Wachee Springs was one of the Nation’s, not just Florida’s, most popular tourist sites. In 1957, American Broadcasting Company purchased the spring and then heavily promoted it, building the current 400 seat theater into the limestone walls of the spring. The theater sits 16 feet below the spring’s surface.
Shows began having themes with music and props, rather than just synchronized ballet moves. The most current show is a rendition of Ariel, where the mermaid turns human. There is music, narration, several characters, both male and female mermaids, all swimming, dancing, performing acrobatics and lots of bubbles!! Definitely a great 30 minutes show to be enjoyed by the entire family. The mermaid show currently performs three times daily.
While the mermaids are performing, they are also fighting a 5 MPH current from the spring head. It is constantly bubbling up over 100 million gallons of 74-degree spring water daily from the subterranean caverns. You can see that the mermaids are very strong swimmers and athletes.
There are several other activities at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Currently between 9:30am and 12:30pm, you can catch a boat ride called the Wilderness River Cruise (lasting approximately 15 minutes). This is a narrated river tour gliding through the crystal-clear water and the semi-tropical forest of palm, oak, sweetgum, cypress, magnolia and pine trees.
It is a very educational tour regarding the spring and the natural inhabitants, such as fish, manatees (only in the winter months), waterfowl, alligators and turtles. There are no reservations for this tour. It is operated on a first come first serve basis, but the ride is included in the entry fee.
The Weeki Wachee Springs park rangers also hold educational animal shows with small alligators, snakes, and turtles. This is a safe way to get up close and personal with these types of wildlife. Speaking of wildlife, there are many peacocks roaming free throughout the park, entertaining you with shows of their huge feathers and mating dance, if you are there in the summer season.
Kayaking and paddle boarding are also offered at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. You can obtain rentals from Weeki Fresh Water Adventures located in the park.
Mermaid Galley Concessions is a nice indoor location offering snacks, drinks and hot food to order. There is also an Ice Cream Shop on the premises.
An outdoor amphitheater for special events is located within the park, and the park can be available for your own special events or wedding venues. And no park is complete without a gift shop to obtain your boat cruise or mermaid show mementos.
Where can you find Weeki Wachee Springs State Park?
It is located 45 minutes North of Tampa and 2 hours West of Orlando. The address for your GPS is: 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL at the intersection of FL SR 50 and US Hwy 19. The park is open daily from 9am-5:30pm.
Where to stay near Weeki Wachee Springs State Park?
Nearby places to stay in Spring Hill, FL include Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites both in Spring Hill and in Brooksville West, Hampton Inn and Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott.
Spring Hill, FL is a small town but has many food options/restaurants to choose from. The nearby larger town of Brooksville also has additional food and lodging options.
Additional tips for your trip to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park:
Inclement weather may cause the mermaid show to be canceled and no refunds will be given, so chose your day wisely.
No personal floats are allowed to be brought into the park except children’s life jackets, but floats can be rented from Weeki Fresh Water Adventures for use on the lazy river. These are our favorite children's life jackets.
The historical information provided here is courtesy of the Florida State Parks website. Florida State Parks has been managing Weeki Wachee Springs since 2008.
Read more articles from Florida Family Travel Guide:
Did you find this post helpful? Please share or save this post to your Travel board on Pinterest:)
Marilyn Tabanelli is a Florida Family Travel Guide contributing writer. She enjoys photography and writing about her travel adventures throughout the country.