When I tell most people that there is a mermaid show in Florida, I am usually met with raised eyebrows. Typically, people think I am talking about a theater-style Broadway show, and most assume I mean a show about Disney’s Little Mermaid.
Once I’ve explained that it is a live mermaid show performed underwater in a natural spring that has nothing to do with Disney, people are intrigued!
This year for my birthday, I chose to spend my day watching the Mermaid Show in Florida, which is at the Weeki Wachee Springs in Hernando County, Florida.
If you are not familiar with Weeki Wachee Springs, it is a state park that’s somewhat famous in Florida. Famous for being home to the live mermaids. The park also hosts Buccaneer Bay and Buccaneer Bay Water Park. Activities include riverboat rides, kayaking, paddleboard rentals, and animal shows. And the parks offers several camping programs.
History of The Mermaid Show
In 1947 Newt Perry, a former U.S. Navy man, swim coach, and star swimmer turned event promoter, was in search of a new business venture.
He found Weeki Wachee Springs, which at the time was full of junk and had to be cleared.
Newt wanted to create a way for humans to perform underwater. He invented a method of breathing underwater from a free-flowing air hose supplying oxygen from an air compressor. This hose gives the appearance of people or the mermaids as breathing underwater.
Initially, an 18-seat theater was built. Later a newer theater with a capacity of 50 was created, and the viewing windows were added.
Newt sought out pretty girls, taught them how to perform ballet moves underwater along with other tricks. As such, the mermaid shows of Florida were born.
The Mermaid Show Theater
Closed for renovations in November 2018, it was re-opened Memorial Day weekend 2019. During the renovations, all of the benches were refinished, the theater was painted, and new tiles were added.
I was impressed by the theater. It’s large, modern, has excellent lighting, and a massive circular viewing area – renovated with style.
When you enter the theater, the viewing area is covered with a blue curtain. This adds drama and creates anticipation. It feels like you are at a traditional theater. Well, technically it is a theater, only the show is underwater.
Note: The shows are popular, so make sure you get in line well in advance of the show time to ensure you get a seat. Seats are on a first-come basis.
Experiencing The Mermaid Shows in Florida
I imagined that the mermaid show would consist of an occasional mermaid swimming around waving at the audience. I was wrong. The mermaid show in Florida is a full-blown production show with a story, characters, dancing, and singing.
It’s an incredibly professional produced, and I did not expect this!
The curtain rises, and then you are transported into the most magical underwater world right inside of an actual spring.
There are three shows a day. And, if you want to watch all three, you can – it’s included in your admission!
In between sets, a stream of bubbles creates a screen in the water that covers the viewing area. A memory that makes me smile as I write this.
The story you experience will depend on which show you choose. We chose the Wonders of Weeki and no regrets. Not only was the show enchanting, but it was also educational. Wonders of Weeki is a new show dedicated to Newt Perry, the founder. The show includes lots of history and education about Florida’s ecosystem. And, the history of the mermaids.
Video of Wonders of Weeki Mermaid Show
The Two Different Mermaid Shows
“The Little Mermaid” Description: The mermaids of Weeki Wachee recreate the story of “The Little Mermaid.” Showtimes: 11 a.m. & 3 p.m.
“Wonders of Weeki,” Description: The mermaids of Weeki Wachee showcase the history of the park and mermaid feats of yesteryear. Showtimes: 1:30 p.m.
Note: Theater doors open 30 minutes before the show. Once the theater is at capacity, the doors will close. The theater only holds 400 people, and it fills up frequently.
Meeting the Mermaids
After all shows, there is an opportunity for you to meet the mermaids. And, get a photograph with a live mermaid. As you can imagine, this is a massive hit for little girls, so be prepared to wait in line. There is no charge to meet the mermaids or have your photograph taken with one.
Other Attractions at Weeki Wachee Springs
Maybe watching a mermaid show is not high on your list of things to experience. Don’t worry, plenty of other things to do!
Buccaneer Bay Waterpark
We visited in early March, and the Waterpark was not open to the public yet. However, the views are evident as to what this attraction has in store for you. Included in your admission, Buccaneer Bay Waterpark is a water park built around the spring. I would liken it to a good old fashioned swimming hole with the modern-day addition of slides. Three giant slides plunge you into the spring, and then there are the cannonball and thunderbolt flumes.
Lifeguards practicing at Buccaneer Bay Waterpark
The Waterpark has a beach, and it is the perfect spot for swimming or snorkeling, and lifeguards are on hand.
Tube Rental: $7
Don’t miss this one. It’s not a long boat ride, but it’s a beautiful one. You get to take a journey through the waterway of the Weeki Wachee River. You’ll see first hand just how stunning the springs of Florida are. The piercing blue water is something that you will never tire of. The boat captains will tell you all about the river and the different types of natural wildlife that might be seen during the trip.
Note: Once you get in the park you have to register for a boat time slot. Head to the boat ride first and secure a time that works with the other activities you plan.
Rent a Paddle Board or Kayak
Weeki Wachee Springs state park rents both kayaks and paddleboards on the Weeki Wachee River. The prices are per watercraft and not per person, and transportation back is included.
Note: Paddle boards and kayak rentals are not included in admission.
Snorkel or Swim
Who does not like snorkeling, especially in a natural spring? For Floridan’s, it’s one of the highlights of living in the Sunshine State. If you’re not a fan of snorkeling, then just take a dip and cool off.
Watch The Animal Exhibits
The animal encounter at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park provides our guests with a first-hand glimpse of some of Florida’s native wildlife, including gators, snakes, and others.
Mermaid Galley: Sandwiches, burgers, wraps, salads, ice cream, and other snacks.
Captains Quarters: Ice cream, snacks, and drinks overlooking the bay.
Pirates Grubb: Snacks, burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, and more.
Snack Shack: Ice cream and cold drinks.
Tiki Bar: Frozen drinks, beer, or wine and grilled food items.
What You Need To Know
You can rent electronic scooters for $20. The mobile scooters are on a first-come basis and are for mobility-impaired individuals ONLY. They cannot be reserved in advance.
Tube rentals are on a first-come, first-served basis.
You cannot bring your own flotation device. The only exception is a life jacket or noodle for kids.
You cannot purchase tickets in advance. Tickets can only be purchased in the park upon arrival, and the park frequently fills up, even on weekdays. Get their early and plan accordingly.
Chairs, umbrellas, and coolers are also allowed, alcohol is prohibited.
Note: You can sign up for text alerts on park capacity. Sign up by texting “Weeki” to 82149 to get notifications.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it cost to visit Weeki Wachee Springs? $13 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-12 and free for kids five and younger. This includes everything available at the park.
How much is the mermaid show at Weeki Wachee? It is included in the entry to the park—$ 13 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-12, and free for kids five and younger.
Where is Weeki Wachee Springs located? 6131 Commercial Way Weeki Wachee FL 34606
What are the opening hours for Weeki Wachee Springs? The park is open 365 days a year. Hours are 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily. Certain attractions like Buccaneer Bay Water Park are not open all year.
Note: Weeki Wachee Springs is currently closed due to COVID-19
How long is the mermaid show at Weeki Wachee? The Mermaid shows are 45-60 minutes long.
Can you swim with the mermaids at Weeki Wachee? No, while you can see them perform in the underwater theater, you cannot swim with them. You can get your photograph with them, though!
How much do Weeki Wachee mermaids make? According to my research, the mermaids don’t make a fortune. Mermaids get paid $12 an hour to start, and they have to be able to work a minimum of four days a week.
Time and time again, Florida continues to fascinate me in a way that other states just can’t compete with. I think you could visit an attraction a weekend in Florida for years and never experience them all.
The mermaid show in Florida was a special treat for me. My imagination was triggered. My friends and I laughed and clapped throughout the entire performance. All of us agreed it was above and beyond what we all expected.
Some folk have hailed this as a roadside attraction—a total insult. Once upon a time – like in the 50’s it was. Today it’s a state park that offers one of the best days out that money can buy.
Weeki Wachee Springs state park is stunning. There is plenty to see and do, the grounds alone are impressive. The boat ride alone worth the price of admission. You will see peacocks wandering the grounds, and if you are lucky, you’ll see manatees on the boat ride!
When I shared my photos with my aunt in England, she said: “Only in America.” I said, “No, Only in Florida.”
I’ll close with this. I think this is the best $13 you can spend and enjoy an entire day out. If you have not yet visited Weeki Wachee Springs, add it to your list and make a point to visit. You won’t be disappointed!
Looking for more posts on unusual places to visit in Florida? Start here:
Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job, how to travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.