Weeki Wachee is a crystal clear spring west of Orlando straight out 50 towards Tampa. The drive out slowly unveiled the true old Florida with tin roofed houses under huge Live Oaks and ancient pickups with just the right amount of rust. Weeki Wachee has been a unique roadside attraction for over 60 years. When it first opened, the mermaids had to stand roadside to try and attract visitors.
"Fish Tales" the underwater mermaid show was housed in a theater right beside the spring. The stadium seating sloped down to a huge arched glass wall that looked under water into the spring. A miniature castle was perched on the slope of the opposite wall of the spring. A girl rose from the depths and waved to the audience. A snorkeler held her air hose. As part of her "mermaid training" she had to swim straight down into the spring against the flow of water rushing upward. She held her breath the whole way. When she reached the bottom she tugged the air hose twice so the snorkeler could help bring her up. It was an unnerving demonstration of will and faith. She held her breath for over two minutes then did a graceful back flip to prove she was not in a rush for air.
When mermaids performed, turtles and fish would swim nearby. Sometimes a mermaid doing a somersault might bump her head on a turtles shell and she would gently push him away. The final number was a rousing underwater ballet to "Proud to be an American!" A Merman rose from the depths with an American flag as a cape. He spread his arms and grinned ear to ear. The show is campy and over the top fun.