It’s with mixed emotions that I am writing this Blog today regarding the Silver Springs Attraction that’s located in our beautiful city of Ocala. Tourists have been enjoying Florida’s original attraction since the 1800’s. You may not of had the opportunity to visit Silver Springs yourself, but you may have heard about the world-famous glass bottom boats that visitors at the park get to enjoy the on the tour.
The springs pumps out 550 million gallons of sparkling clear water a day,
enough to supply the entire city of New York.
Last week for my birthday I told my husband that I wanted to go one last time before the changes were made and I no longer would have the opportunity to go. It was sad to me, as there were so many fond memories of my grandparents taking me as a little girl. I also took my granddaughter there when she was 2 years old, and she is now 23 (today just so happens to be her birthday). In fact 4 out of my 5 grandkids have enjoyed the going to the Park. I’m still debating whether I should take my youngest grandson who is 2 years old. The only problem is that he likes to take off running… which may not work well there.
Several movies and TV series were made at the Springs including: “Sea Hunt”, “Creature From The Black Lagoon”, “National Geographic” specials, and many TV commercials.
In 1916 the silent movie “The Seven Swans,” starring Richard Barthelmess and Marguerite Clark, was filmed at the park.
Silver Springs became very popular in the ‘30s and ‘40s when Johnny Weissmuller starred in six “Tarzan” movies that took place here.
“The Yearling” starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman that was filmed at Silver Springs in the 1040’s. Others movies included, “Distant Drums” with Gary Cooper, “Underwater” starring Jane Russell and Richard Egan, “Blindfold” with Rock Hudson and Claudia Cardinale, “Never Say Never Again” starring Sean Connery, and “Smokey & The Bandit 3” with Jackie Gleason. In 1999 the Discovery Channel shot on location the “Crocodile Hunter” with Steve Irwin. Countless other movies and films were made here. The lists goes on and on.
Silver Springs is a three hundred fifty-acre nature park surrounding the Silver River. During 1950 the number of guests at Silver Springs jumped to more than 800,000 a year. I’m not sure what the highest number of guests were at its peak, but it was “the happening place”. Due to declining ticket sales and increasing nitrate pollution it has made the attraction unprofitable. The take over from the state plans to clean up the area and make it accessible as part of the adjacent Silver River State Park.
Palace Entertainment’s lease to manage the Silver Springs Attraction ran from 2002 until Dec. 31, 2029, but through negotiations with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state has secured $4 million in work by Palace Entertainment in order to restore the property to its natural condition. The exotic animals and amusement rides will be discontinued as the state takes over.
Check out the website for Silver Springs by clicking here.