My Flickr Photos of Springs

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mermaids survive in Florida as Weeki Wachee becomes a state park

Published March 16, 2008
A million visitors annually came to see the young women in mermaid costumes during the 1960s. That was before Disney World opened in 1971 near Orlando, 80 miles (130 kilometers) east. Once Walt Disney Co. ushered in the era of elaborate shows and high-speed roller coasters, crowds dwindled for smaller attractions such as Weeki Wachee, Cypress Gardens' water-skiers and Silver Springs' glass-bottomed boats.

The state agreed to absorb Weeki Wachee into its 160-park system after years of fragile finances for the mermaid home, whose attendance has shrunk to 300,000. Profit in 2007, the first in years, was $60,000, said Robyn Anderson, mayor of the town of Weeki Wachee.

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