Following standing-room only performances at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies last summer, the world famous mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida, known for their grace and beauty for the past 63 years, will be returning to Gatlinburg once again this summer.
Finned beauties to prove that mermaids are more than just figments of fantasy and imagination as they perform 12 shows, August 6, 7 & 8.
Due to the popularity of the performances last summer, three extra shows have been added to accommodate the mermaid-loving crowds. The finned beauties will grace the aquarium’s waters for 12 shows, August 6, 7 & 8. Their performances last summer were critically acclaimed and there was standing room only for every show. “Get there early and grab yourself a spot,” is the advice Ryan DeSear, the aquarium’s GM, has for anyone who wants to experience the show. “These shows are awesome, especially for the children. They are totally mesmerized.”
You’ll see mermaids as you have never seen them before – live and in front of you!
The mermaids will perform each day at 12, 2, 4 and 6 p.m. and will be available to meet and greet guests following each show in the shallows of Friendship Flats. The watery stage at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies will be Ray Bay, a 15 foot deep, 85,000 gallon saltwater tank, populated with sharks and stingrays.
Special photo opportunities and several interactive programs will be offered in conjunction with the mermaid’s visit, including a Mermaid Splash, where guests will join a mermaid in the water and splash, pet and frolic with the friendly stingrays.
This year, the popular and enchanting mermaids Lauren Dodson, Stayce McConnell and Carli Goodworth will be traveling to Gatlinburg from their home waters at Weeki Wachee to swim among the sharks and rays.
“We are absolutely delighted the girls are coming back,” said DeSear. “Their underwater shows have been received very well by our guests and experiencing their underwater grace and poise is truly a joy. It’s something you can’t see just anywhere.”
The mermaid shows are free with paid admission to the aquarium. For further information about the interactive programs with the mermaids (which require a reservation) or to reserve a spot, contact Courtney Thompson at 888-240-1358, ext. 2142.
A Brief History of the Weeki Wachee Mermaids
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, also called The City of Live Mermaids is truly an original piece of Florida’s rich heritage and one of the state’s earliest roadside attractions.
The Weeki Wachee Springs underwater theater opened on Oct. 13, 1947. The mermaids performed synchronized ballet moves 20 feet underwater while breathing through special air hoses hidden in the scenery.
In the 1950s, Weeki Wachee, located north of Tampa on Florida’s west coast, was one of the nation’s most popular tourist stops. The attraction received worldwide acclaim and several movies were filmed at the spring.
Weeki Wachee’s heyday began in 1959, when the spring was purchased by the American Broadcasting Co. (ABC) and was heavily promoted. The ABC creative team developed themes for the underwater shows, with elaborate props, lifts, music, and story lines.
In the 1960s, the glamorous mermaids performed eight shows a day to sold out crowds – as many as half a million people a year came to see them. The mermaids were treated like royalty wherever they appeared in Florida and stars of those days, including Elvis, Don Knotts, Esther Williams, and Arthur Godfrey, stopped by to see them perform live.
Today, tiny Weeki Wachee is one of the nation’s smallest cities, with a population of nine, including its mayor, Robyn Anderson, a former mermaid. It is also a Florida State Park. www.weekiwachee.com