Silver Springs (EXTINCT!)
(1878 - September 15, 2013)
now as part of Silver Springs State Park
(October 2013 - present)
Assorted brochures, miscellaneous items and a vacation guide for Silver Springs zoological park.
When it comes to "old Florida" attractions and things to see and do since the days before Walt Disney World, it doesn't get any more classic than Florida's FIRST tourist attraction, Silver Springs.
Silver Springs is a group of artesian springs (an underground area of water that naturally flows up to the surface) that help supply the Silver River with an abundance of fresh water. Silver Springs just happens to be the world's largest artesian spring, producing nearly 550 million gallons of fresh water each day. Although this area has drawn attention from visitors since it was discovered, Silver Springs did not officially become a tourist attraction until 1878 and the famous glass-bottom boat tours of the springs and all of its associated wildlife, both above and below the surface of the water.
Located just outside of Ocala, Florida, Silver Springs was a privately owned zoological park that centered around its famous glass-bottom boats and the guided tours through the springs. Visitors could look through the bottom of the boat and see a variety of fish and other marine life, as well as catch glimpses of the underwater geographic features as well. As the tourists continued to visit, Silver Springs slowly expanded and offered additional animal exhibits as well as a variety of live shows, most of them featuring animals as well. The expansions and additions to the park continued through the 1990s and into the 2000s, even though the tourists were decreasing and the park was experiencing problems in other areas as well.
2000 through 2010 saw a serious decrease in tourists at Silver Springs. In addition to the general loss of interest, the park was dealing with an increase in pollution throughout the water, and a severe drop in the outflow of water from the springs. Both of those were attributed to a strain on the ecosystem caused by construction and population growth throughout Ocala and the surrounding area.
On September 15, 2013, Silver Springs was no longer a privately operated tourist attraction. Most (if not all) of the animal exhibits were closed by September of 2013, and some of the rides closed as well. The area was taken over by the state of Florida, and the former Silver Springs attraction became part of the Silver Springs State Park. The famous glass-bottom boat rides have been operational again as of October of 2013.
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