The Weeki Wachee Springs State Park Mermaid Show

Photo & video credit: VISIT FLORIDA

When the satiny blue curtain rolls up in Weeki Wachee Springs State Park’s submerged 400-seat auditorium, it’s a mesmerizing scene. Fish float and swim through the gin-clear water of the natural spring, framed by a landscape of rocks and swaying plants. A cascade of air bubbles rises on one side. While the narrator introduces the story you can hear the audience chatter in the background.

A minute into the performance, mermaids appear from the bottom of the spring—a bit of magic. You can’t take your eyes off of the smiling, beguiling creatures, their hair arcing around them in halos, their tails curving behind as they spin and twist. The chatter goes silent.

Welcome to the world-renowned Weeki Wachi Mermaid Show, an old-Florida attraction that costs a pittance and delivers a blockbuster experience.

The Mermaid Show

This one-of-a-kind show features the mermaids presenting their version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. In this classic tale, the Little Mermaid comes face to face with her prince as she celebrates her birthday. Longing to have legs like him, she makes a deal with the sea witch, exchanging her exquisite voice for what she wants. A ferocious battle ensues between the prince and the malevolent sea witch, as the prince fights to save the Little Mermaid’s voice. The prince, and love, prevail.

In the show, you’ll see the mermaids of Weeki Wachee perform underwater feats from the past six decades, including eating and drinking underwater, enjoy several musical numbers and learn about the history and technical aspect of the show.

Subterranean Wonder

Named by the Seminole Indians, “Weeki Wachee” means “little spring” or “winding river.” Every day, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 74-degree water gurgle up from the spring’s subterranean caverns. It’s so deep that its bottom has never been found.

Diving Into the Past

A Florida classic since 1947, Weeki Wachee’s mermaid show is the creation of Newton Perry, a former U.S. Navy man.  Perry came up with a way to breathe underwater from a free-flowing air hose supplying oxygen from an air compressor. Using the air hose, a person could give the appearance of thriving underwater with no breathing apparatus.

Perry built a theater into the limestone, set six feet below the water’s surface, so viewers could look right into the natural beauty of the ancient spring. He found some pretty girls and trained them to swim with air hoses, eat bananas underwater and do aquatic ballets—all while smiling broadly.

By the 1950s, Weeki Wachee had become one of the nation’s premier tourist stops, earning worldwide acclaim. Movies were filmed there.

In the 1960s, as many as half a million people a year came to see the Weeki Wachee mermaids, including celebrities like Elvis Presley and Don Knotts.

The legacy continues today. The tiny city of Weeki Wachee incorporated in 1966, putting it on maps and state road signs. The park added features like Buccaneer Bay in 1982.