The Famous Weeki Wachee Mermaids reviewed by AquaTails, home of quality mermaid tails for swimming. I just finished reading the book Weeki Wachee: City of Mermaids – A History of One of Florida’s Oldest Roadside Attractions. I highly recommend it–not only is it enjoyable reading, but it’s loaded with wonderful photographs. I found it at my library.
The natural springs of Weeki Wachee were the clearest waters found anywhere–they are fed by an underground river, like an upside down waterfall. Observers say that when in a boat peering down to the depths, they experienced vertigo because the water was so clear you couldn’t tell it was there!
After the underground theater was built and the underwater ballets and performances started in 1947, over the decades people still couldn’t believe their eyes–many thought that the performers were on strings and pulleys, and that the water was faked! Part of this unbelief was due to the clearness of the water, part due to how long the performers were able to hold their breath (they accessed breathing tubes).
After development came to the area, the water hasn’t been quite as pristine and now there is brown algae growing where there wasn’t before. But it appears that the waters and the spring are still one of the most beautiful sights you’ll see–it’s like an upside mountain.
The mermaids have been performing there for 60 years, but originally they didn’t wear mermaid tails. The tails appeared in the second half of their existence. Before that the performers did underwater ballet as well as tricks such as eating bananas and drinking soda underwater. They did elaborate tricks such as underwater foot races, swinging on a swingset, and they “drove” a car and did skits. Later, the performers started to put on full underwater plays such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and the Wizard of Oz. Locals used to look forward to a new production every year.
This old roadside attraction did very well until Disney World moved in. Since then Weeki Wachee has struggled to keep going. It is one of the only Americana roadside attractions still surviving. Not too long ago, they had a reunion of the mermaids. Performers came together ranging in age from 45-75. They had so much fun that they put on a reunion show. It was so well received that these former water ballerinas now perform once a month, along with the newest mermaids. Where else can you go to see mermaids of all ages swimming so beautifully in the water? The spring is home not only to the graceful mermaids, but to a manatee, fish, turtles and eels. Support this great piece of American history and go see them as soon as you can!