Florida Guide > State Parks
Weeki Wachee to become a State Park
The 27th of January, 2008 was an historic day for the tiny city of Weeki Wachi; Mayor Robyn Anderson put her signature to a document that finally made Weeki Wachee Springs a Florida State Park. The handover will take place on November the 1st 2008 and they will start a program to bring this declining attraction back to its former glory. This was rubber stamped by Swiftmud the following tuesday. Swiftmud leases the land that Weeki Wachee stands on. The park was sold for a nominal $10.
Robyn is also the general manager of Weeki Wachee and she said that the staff have unanimously welcomed the news of the take over. The States departmant have announced that they have no plans to scrap the most known feature of the springs; the mermaids. Robyn will remain as assistant manager
In these days of the ever burgeoning Disney and Universal parks, it is easy to forget that Weeki Wachee was once the foremost attraction in the whole of Florida.
Weeki Wachee is sitated 50 miles north of Tampa in Hernando County and at 60 years old, is one of the oldest attractions in Florida. It was the brainchild of one Newton Perry, who spotted the potential of this amazing almost bottomless spring. Newton was a frogman in the American navy.
Until recently, no one was able to establish the full depth of this spring; however, the drought conditions of 2007, meant that cave divers were at last able to reach right down to the bottom. Here they discovered that at 403 feet, Weeki Wachee was indeed the deepest spring in America. Rather touchingly, they have anchored a statue of a mermaid to the bottom of the spring and a film of this dive is being shown at the park.
Newton built a theatre in the spring that was submerged 6 feet underwater and hired girls to do an underwater ballet dressed as mermaids; an inspired idea that really put Weeki Wachee on the map.
By the 1950s, this park had a jungle cruise, a beach and orchid gardens as well as the famous mermaids and was a very popular day out. ABC bought the park in 1959 and they built a new underwater theatre 16 feet below the surface and added their considerable weight behind the advertising campaign.
It is recorded that by the 1960s, upwards of 50000 people were visiting Weeki Wachee every year and the mermaids were feted all over Florida like film stars.
The nineteen eighties saw a water park open as Buccaneer Bay and in nineteen ninety seven, the ploy of bringing back retired mermaids proved to be a winner. It is interesting to note that Mayor Robyn Anderson was once a mermaid.
The park is currently owned by the City of Weeki Wachee whose total poulation of 9 (yes nine! ) This makes it one the smallest cities in America. It has been struggling financially all through the nineties and considerable pressure has been applied by the owners of the land who are Swiftmud to resolve the situation, They were not in favour of the park being donated to Wikee Wachee city and have previously taken their dispute to court. This has rumbled on for 4 years.
The Department of Environmental protection has pumped $1000000 into the park recently and it is this that has made the park a viable opportunity for the State Parks department.
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