It had been probably been about 35 years or so since I had visited Silver Springs. I had some really pleasant memories about the place. The scenery, the animals, the glass bottom boats and everything that went with it. So, when we decided to go there a couple of weekends ago, I was really excited and looking forward to it. You know that old adage about how you can never go home again (because things always change and it’s never the way you remember)? Well, it’s true. I’m afraid I was really disappointed. Don’t get me wrong. The scenery is still pretty. But the animals are gone. Apparently, the company that used to operate the park, sold it to the State of Florida. Unbeknownst to us, the State took over the operation of the park on October 1, 2013. Based on our visit, it’s my guess that the park must have gotten really run down and the State hasn’t had an opportunity to renew it. But I did take lots of photos and decided to share. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from going. I probably would have liked it more if I didn’t have my memory reference from years ago.
We went on a Thursday to avoid the crowds. Well, it certainly worked. The place was practically deserted. I think I saw more park employees than I did attendees. We got there right around lunch time and decided to go ahead and eat in the park. The only shop that was open was one restaurant so we opted for that. We went and bought our tickets for the boat ride. I asked them if they had any brochures and was told they were in the process of being printed. So I asked him if they had any old leftovers and he said they did not keep them. Bummer. So, after buying our tickets we then went back to the restaurant and had lunch. The food was good. And there certainly wasn’t a wait. We were the only four people in the place. I didn’t have to worry about angling my camera around to avoid people because there weren’t any! After lunch, we took a short stroll along one of the paths.
We then took a ride on one of the glass bottom boats. They were so old and the glass and acrylic was scratched and made it difficult for photos. Below are some of the pictures I took of critters along the shoreline as the boat passed. There were a few birds, a gator and lots of turtles.
The boat ride was a lot shorter than I remembered. My sister-in-law remembered seeing monkeys in the trees and our guide said they used to also have what they called a jungle cruise. I didn’t remember that but I did remember the animals they no longer had. Our boat was piloted by Captain Roosevelt. Turns out he had been working at Silver Springs for 57 years! Can you imagine that?
I took a few photos through the glass bottom. One of the things I was looking for was where they had the statues and stuff that was used in the filming of some episodes of Sea Hunt and I Spy. A lot of you probably wouldn’t even remember those old TV shows from the 60’s. When I saw the statues in the 70’s, I’m sure I remembered seeing more of them and you could actually tell what they were and they still had color on them. Oh, well. I’ll let you see if you can pick out the picture with the statues. The picture with the log is cypress. I learned that as long as that cypress log was underwater it would never rot. Wonder if I’ll ever be able to use that knowledge for anything!
I took a few more pictures of various things in the park. A cabbage palm, a bronze statue of Chief Osceola, and some signs for your reading pleasure!
In spite of my personal disappointment with the park, all in all it was a good day with family. And that’s really all that matters!