1960s-1970s: ABC Era


Weeki Wachee Springs mermaids posing on top of the newly constructed underwater theater. Text on the back reads, "Weeki Wachee, Florida's underwater grand canyon presents a new million dollar underwater aqua-theatre and underwater musical revue daily from 9 to 5, rain or shine."

As the popularity of the park exploded, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) purchased Weeki Wachee and Silver Springs in the early 1960s. ABC added a birds of prey attraction. Built a bigger underwater theater, remodeled the entrance to the park, filmed advertisements and played them in ABC-owned theaters across the United States, dramatically upped the production value of the mermaid performances, hosted movie premieres, brought celebrities to the park, and hired many more employees. The local motel became a Holiday Inn, Weeki Wachee became its own city, and the heyday of the attraction began.






As Weeki Wachee grew and added more attractions throughout the 1960s, additional employees were needed. In Lu Vicker's Weeki Wachee City of Mermaids, Martha Delaine explores the community created while working at Weeki Wachee through a discussion on how the nine or ten Black Weeki Wachee employees helped each other get to work every day by stuffing into one or two vehicles until they saved enough money to buy a Volkswagen bus. Delaine later expresses a longing for that community saying, “I miss it all. A lot of mermaids I miss, because everybody was like one family. Everybody worked together and helped one another. If the mermaids or waitresses or anybody got to where they needed help, they helped each other.” The bus pictured above could possibly be the vehicle Martha mentioned.

The City of Mermaids
1960s-1970s: ABC Era