Weeki Wachee: Minus the Mermaids

In the summer of 2014, we set out to visit as many of Florida’s springs as possible. So of course, we took a trip to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. We planned to canoe down the river starting at the park, but we found that even on a weekday, it wasn’t possible to rent a boat for a paddle without a very early start.

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Since all canoes and kayaks were rented when we arrived (at about 10:00), we decided to do the next best thing and go in the park to see what the mermaid show was all about. Our verdict: not much! The bubbles between performances were more entertaining than the mermaids, not only for us, but for the children in the audience as well.

We walked around the park, watched the peacocks wandering, and took a few pictures. We decided to pass on the water park…too crowded and not really our idea of a good time anyhow. However, we decided we would definitely return so we could paddle down the river.

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So last month, a couple of weeks after school started, we got up at sunrise and drove to the park. We were certainly there early enough renting one of the first canoes of the day, and I’m so glad we were turned away on our first trip.

Without a doubt, this paddle qualifies as my favorite of all time. The water was absolutely beautiful. The color, the clarity, the fish, the quiet…perfect. There’s no way we would have had the same experience on that July day two years ago paddling and dodging other boats.

Upon our return to the rental facility, we were asked if we saw any manatee in the run. Apparently, they had been making regular appearances. No, manatee. Only otters. This brought oohs and aahs from the staff since it’s unusual to spot otters on the river. We not only spotted them, but watched them dart in and out of the brush along the bank between their sliding through the crystal clear water.

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My first impression of Weeki Wachi Springs State Park: This isn’t anything. My impression this time: We’ll return so we can spend more time paddling on the river. I much prefer the otters to the mermaids!

Weeki Wachee: Spring #11

Is this anything? That’s the question that kept running through my mind as I watched the “famous” Weeki Wachee mermaid show.

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You may remember the David Letterman bit where he, Paul Shaffer, and sometimes a guest judge would ask the question, “Is this anything?” after watching a performance. In addition to the the act they were judging, the hula hoop girl and meat grinder girl sometimes accompanied the “Is this anything?” performer on stage and often times, they were more entertaining than those being evaluated.

Well, I’m afraid my impression of the mermaid show was that it was simply a longer version of one of these performances but this time missing the hula hoop and meat grinder girls. And in fact, when we left the theater, my question to John: “Was it anything?”

Unfortunately, we both came to the conclusion, that no, it was nothing. The bubbles between acts provided more interest than the mermaids.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park turned out to be a major disappointment. Due to the large crowds, no rental canoes or kayaks were available so our plan to paddle down the river went down the tube.

The boats were not operating in the park, and the mermaid show was less than spectacular. Fortunately, we did not pay the $13 per person entry fee since we purchased the annual Florida State Park Pass and admission to the park was included in the with the pass.

The $99 admission to a Florida theme park looks like a bargain compared to $13 at Weeki Wachee. However, the admission does permit visitors to spend the day at Buccaneer Bay, the water park, so on a hot summer’s day, it may be worth a visit for those with children.

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On the bright side, we set a goal to visit at least 14 of Florida’s springs this year and Weeki Wachi makes eleven. I’m glad we went to see an old time Florida roadside attraction, but I don’t need to go again.