WEEKI WACHEE, Fla. — It’s one of the most iconic and historic attractions in Florida: the Weeki Wachee mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Now, after a full year of closures, the park attractions are back open and the show has returned.
It’s a tradition that dates back to 1947 with the world famous underwater mermaids and their beautiful 117-million gallon natural spring.
Tony Malone is from Iowa but he remembers his mom taking him to see the mermaids when he was a kid. It’s a fond memory he’s now recreating with his own daughter. “I can’t say that I remember a whole lot about the show from when I was a kid but it’s pretty neat to be able to take my family to something I got to experience as a child,” he explained.
Timing for his family’s Spring vacation couldn’t be more perfect. The park reopened Thursday after 12 months of stormwater and erosion control projects, meant to protect the health of the spring and protect against runoff from nearby US-19.
The state park put in new retention ponds, a new beach area and made changes to the shoreline outside the water park.
It’s work that happened to coincide with the COVID-19 pandemic, but Brian Fugate, the Florida Park Services District Manager, says they were able to accomplish even more because of that.
“We’ve been able to work through the off season to utilize our time to get the projects done so at the start of the new swim season and Spring Break, we were able to open it back up and welcome the visitors again,” he elaborated.
The Bucaneer Bay Water Park is also back open. The water park is open every day from now through March 22. Then, from March 22-May 29, the waterslides, kiddie pool, and lazy river will only be available on weekends. The waterpark will open full-time for the summer on May 29. The swimming/beach areas will remain open daily.
Kelley Doty is happy to have another place to take her kids after a long year of quarantining. “It was really hard keeping two small children busy when everything was shut down so it’s nice to be able to get out, get fresh air, make memories. We’re happy to hear things are opening back up and we can enjoy Florida,” she said with a smile.
You’ll see a lot of new signage at the park encouraging social distancing and seating at the mermaid show is now limited and spaced apart to keep guests safe.
“We’re just super excited to have people back, we love to have the park full and for folks to enjoy it,” Fugate added.
Having the park back open is adding a splash of magic in a year when we’ve never need it more.
Weeki Wachee State Park will be open every day from 9 AM to 5:30 PM.
The Wilderness River Cruise is still closed because social distancing measures on the boat could not be met, according to park staff.
Kayaking, which is one of the few activities that continued during the closure, is also open.