When Newton Perry first opened Weeki Wachee, more alligators and black bears lived in the area than humans. The year was 1947 and Highway 19 was only a two-lane road. Most other roads were dirt and there were no gas stations or grocery stores. His dream was to make this beautiful spring more than a roadside diversion and more like a desired destination for everyone.
Stories have it that Perry’s marketing efforts were simple—the gals in their bathing suits would run out to the road and flag down the cars as they approached the Park. The strategy work! By the 1950’s, Weeki Wachee was one of the nation’s most popular tourist stops and the Mermaid Shows became known worldwide.
Major changes began in 1959 when the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) purchased this attraction and built the current theater, which seats 500 people. Their marketing efforts allowed the Park to develop and grow into an even greater desired destination. Weeki Wachee continues to attract celebrities the likes of which include Kelly Clarkson (American Idol pop artist), and Larry the Cable Guy. Moreover, the Mermaids continue to perform worldwide.