The Fascinating History of Weeki Wachee’s Mermaids

It’s not every day that you get to watch mermaids perform

Allison Burney
4 min readDec 7, 2021


Bruce Christianson/Unsplash

The first (and only) time I saw a mermaid show, I was captivated. It was nothing like I expected.

While on vacation in Florida several years ago, my family decided that the prospect of a ‘mermaid show’ was just intriguing enough to make the detour to the town of Weeki Wachee, about an hour’s drive north of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf coast. (Well, mostly my sister decided, since she’s the one obsessed with mermaids — but the rest of us went along.)

You might think being a mermaid is simple. After all, isn’t it just about putting on a fancy, glittery tail and awkwardly fumbling around in the water?

How impressive can it really be?

Before seeing the show for myself, I assumed it would be more of a cheesy photo-opp with brief moments in the water. I pictured Ariel sunning herself on the rocks in The Little Mermaid, and figured it would be something similar.

Well, I was very, very wrong.

It turns out that being a mermaid is not simple at all! I left Mermaid Theater intrigued by what I’d just witnessed.

The Washington Post did an in-depth feature about the mermaids and their world-famous performance at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, and it details the lengthy process of how one ‘becomes’ a mermaid.

Future mermaids first have to undergo all kinds of training and obtain several certifications, including getting scuba-certified, CPR-certified, and lifeguard-certified. Then they have to learn how to hold their breath for up to 40-seconds at a time — while doing dance choreography similar to that of a competitive synchronized swimmer!

The show Weeki Wachee Springs is famous for is entirely underwater, meaning the mermaids never surface. They accomplish this by breathing through hoses whenever they need a breath.

For 30 minutes, mermaids danced to choreographed routines as music played through speakers and a narrator unveiled the story being acted out. Unlike most theaters, though, the stage for this performance was waterlogged. The actors shared the spotlight with other live creatures as well (mainly…



Allison Burney

Writer, ghostwriter & proofreader. On a mission to keep exploring, learning & enjoying this adventure we call life. Work with me: