Ripley Aquariums to Host World Famous Weeki Wachee Mermaids in 2009

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 Ripley’s aquariums in 2009.

They will appear at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg, Tenn., May 1, 2 & 3 and at Ripley’s 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 year’s overwhelmingly successful show at Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach was the first time they had performed away from their home waters.

The stage at Ripley’s 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 mermaid’s 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 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 State Park, 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, 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.

Media Contacts:

Mary Phillips Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Gatlinburg, Tenn. (865) 430-8808, ext. 2152 Phillips@ripleys.com

Jessica Mula Ripley’s Aquarium, Myrtle Beach (800) 734-8888 jessmula@ripleysaquarium.com

Tim O’Brien, VP Communications Ripley Entertainment Inc. (615) 646-7465 – office (615) 496-5949 – cell Obrien@ripleys.com

About Ripley Entertainment Inc.

About Ripley Aquariums
The two Ripley’s aquariums are part of the Ripley Entertainment Inc. extensive family of worldwide family entertainment facilities. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tenn., (http://www.ripleysaquariumofthesmokies.com), the second most attended attraction in Tennessee, was voted the Number One Aquarium in America by TripAdvisor.com and Forbes Traveler has named it one of America’s best aquariums. Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, S.C., (http://www.ripleysaquarium.com) is the state’s most visited attraction. Combined, the two aquariums have entertained more than 20 million visitors since 1997. The aquariums are known for their shark exhibits that feature 11-foot sharks and two of the longest underwater tunnels in the world. More than 13 million people visit Ripley’s 70-plus attractions in 13 countries each year. Ripley Entertainment Inc. is a division of the Jim Pattison Group, the third largest privately held company in Canada.

Press Release Source: http://PressExposure.com/PR/Ripley_Entertainment_Inc..html

Press Release Submitted On: March 26, 2009 at 4:40 pm
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