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A Day with the Mermaids at Weeki Wachee State Park

I had always heard about Weeki Wachee while growing up. I had seen the signs all along the interstate when traveling as a kid down to Orlando with my parents on vacation. as the years went by, I assumed it had closed due to lack of the advertising that you see for other Florida attractions. while down this past summer to see my daughter and grandkids, I noticed signs for it and as I have a granddaughter who loves mermaids, I decided to take them to see the story of The Little Mermaid performed by real live mermaids!

That opportunity presented itself when my daughter set her wedding date for November 8th and asked if I would come stay with the kids while she was on her honey moon. she acquired tickets for us to go and on November 12th we set out for a day of adventure. The drive there was a bit of a pain, mostly because I forgot to set my GPS to avoid toll roads, and after looking at a map later, I determined that Siri is in cahoots with the Florida toll collectors as we were re-routed to cross every toll road on the west side of the state. But I digress…

We arrived and were given our tickets. we were just in time (30 minutes) for the mermaid show!! The auditorium was pretty impressive and Anders had a ball climbing over the railings. The show itself was incredible, and I was concerned because they announced beforehand that some parts may be too scary for small kids. But Gaia and Anders were mesmerized and the scenes that made many of the adults jump and scream, didn’t faze the kids at all! I was very impressed with the merpeople performing, and it was a delightful performance.

weeki wachee mermaid show

After the show, the kids were invited outside to meet a real mermaid and have pictures made with her. our mermaid was named Crystal and Anders ran right up to her when it was his turn! Gaia talked to her and was fascinated with the sea rocks around her. I was fascinated to learn on the web site that the mermaids are all scuba trained and aside from a few breaths of air they take during the performance, you would believe that you were watching real mermaids. GO TO http://weekiwachee.com/ and meet the performers.

meeting the mermaids at weeki wachee

After our visit with the mermaid was over, we walked around the park and we worked our way to the river cruise. The cruise was about 25 minutes long and they took you down a few miles and then turned back. The water was pretty shallow (about 4 feet), so they couldn’t go any further or we would have been walking back to the boat dock. but the water was so clear, you could see the bottom and they did announce that the water is 99% pure, which meant that you could actually drink from it!! the river also fills the tank where the mermaids perform. the boat ride also included a commentary on the local wildlife, the Indian name of the river and its meaning, many facts about the local vegetation, the school that kids come to learn about ecology and the river itself. the river has points where it mixes with salt water from the Gulf of Mexico and that you will sometimes see salt water fish in the fresh water river. They also talk about manatees (nature’s mermaids) that swim up into the river occasionally and into the tank where the mermaids perform! Of course, though only once or twice, they claimed that an alligator or two has even found its way into the mermaid tank!

the view at weeki wachee

We didn’t see too many animals, aside from fish as the tour guide said they avoid people. They enforce strict guides about feeding animals. all in all, for such a short ride, it was very informative and entertaining.

As we meandered back through the park , we saw several peacocks around the food pavilions. Gaia was disappointed that we could not go to the Buccaneer bay water park, but it was already closed for the season. We played for a bit at the park and both Anders and Gaia loved posing for pictures on all the statues! we missed the animal show because it was a few hours before they would perform again. Gaia was not interested in seeing that and I assume because of it being off season, the times had been cut back. I’m actually glad that some things were closed as it gives me the opportunity to visit again.

weeki wachee mermaid gaia

There were no crowds and I only saw one other family there with kids, but it was a school day, so that is to be expected. I highly recommend this park for anyone, young and old alike. aside from the mermaids and river cruise, there are pavilions serving food, wildlife exhibits, walking/hiking trails, retail shops, a tourist information shop, canoeing, kayaking and river tubing, diving, picnic areas, a water park for big kids and even for tiny tots… a whole day of adventure for the whole family for a very reasonable price.

The kids had a great time and I’ve already promised Gaia that I will take her back next year, when the water park is open as well. My advice though, for people with younger kids…bring a stroller. I forgot this little detail and had one tired little boy on my hands after just a few hours!

 

Disclaimer: Grams, Gaia, and Anders received free admission into Weeki Wachee Spring State Park in exchange for this post. All stories and opinions are 100% true to the author.

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