Orlando, FL (PressExposure) March 30, 2009 -- The world famous mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida, known for their grace and beauty for the past 62 years, will be appearing at both Ripleyâs aquariums in 2009.
They will appear at Ripleyâs Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg, Tenn., May 1, 2 & 3 and at Ripleyâs Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, July 24, 25 & 26.
The mermaids will perform three shows daily (nine shows total) at each aquarium and will be available to meet and greet guests following each show. This appearance of the mermaids will mark only the second and third time they have performed outside of their historic home attraction in its 62-year history. Last yearâs overwhelmingly successful show at Ripleyâs Aquarium in Myrtle Beach was the first time they had performed away from their home waters.
The stage at Ripleyâs aquariums will be Stingray Bay, a 15 foot deep, 85,000 gallon saltwater tank, populated with five species of sharks and four species of stingrays.
Special photo opportunities and several interactive programs will be offered in conjunction with the mermaidâs visit, including a Mermaid Splash, where guests can join a mermaid in the water and splash, pet and frolic with the friendly stingrays.
The mermaid shows are free with paid admission to the aquarium but the interactive programs, available for an additional fee, require a reservation.
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 Floridaâs rich heritage and one of the stateâs 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 State Park, located north of Tampa on Floridaâs west coast, was one of the nationâs most popular tourist stops. The attraction received worldwide acclaim and several movies were filmed at the spring.
Weeki Wacheeâs 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 nationâs smallest cities, with a population of nine, including its mayor, Robyn Anderson, the GM of the attraction, and a former mermaid. It is also a Florida State Park. http://www.weekiwachee.com
High resolution photos and this release may be downloaded from http://newsroom.ripleys.com Additional information on each of the aquariums is included at the end of this release.
Mary Phillips Ripleyâs Aquarium of the Smokies Gatlinburg, Tenn. (865) 430-8808, ext. 2152 Phillips@ripleys.com
Jessica Mula Ripleyâs Aquarium, Myrtle Beach (800) 734-8888 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim OâBrien, VP Communications Ripley Entertainment Inc. (615) 646-7465 â office (615) 496-5949 â cell Obrien@ripleys.com