Friday, February 19, 2010

Silver Springs

Today was the day for the classic Florida vacation experience.  We walked across the street to “Silver Springs: Nature’s Theme Park”, commonly referred to as the Silver Springs Attraction.  After keeping an eye on the weather forecasts and waiting for a warm, sunny day our patience paid off.  Today was almost perfect--bright sun, blue skies, and very little wind.  It started out a little on the cool side, but not uncomfortable, and quickly warmed up.
Silver Springs Boat Dock on Silver Springs

Looking through the glass bottom of the boat
Our primary objective was the glass bottom boat ride which we did first.  Besides this ride there were two other boat rides plus a small zoo and animal shows.  There is also a floral garden, but the cold weather has rendered it more on the dead side than anything else.  We found only one shrub in bloom.  There were a large number of exotic birds; some in cages, some on open perches.  Being Florida, there were more alligators there than anything else.  Many were confined so visitors could get a good view, but we also saw several sunning themselves by the river’s edge.  The flamingos were quite a treat.  I had never seen one so up close and personal.  The photos turned out orange, but I promise they were really pink.

Our least favorite part was the safari ride.  We boarded a tram towed by a zebra stripped jeep and headed into the deepest, darkest jungle.  Well, you could still see highway 40 so I guess we weren’t too far away from civilization.  You would have thought this would be the place where they kept the giraffe and cougar, but what we saw was a cow, a few sheep, some llamas, and emu.  Well, there you go, even the jungle is changing.

We’re not much for zoos.  We much prefer to see animals in the wild enjoying their natural habitat.  However, there is something to be said for seeing giraffes and cougars which we have never seen outside of a zoo environment.  It was even kinda nice to look at the snakes with the confidence that we wouldn’t be bitten.
Left over from the Tarzan shows
During the middle of the last century, Silver Springs was used often as a TV and movie set.  Relics of these old sets are scattered about the park, both on land and under water.  Many of the early Tarzan episodes were filmed here as well as some of the Sea Hunt episodes.

We did the boat rides, the safari ride, the snake show, and wandered around through the world of bears, gator lagoon, and past the giraffe barn. It was an enjoyable day.  The best part--tickets were two for one.  I’m not sure we would have gone if we would have had to buy two full price tickets.  The season ticket is a great value.  It includes unlimited visits to the park as well as the Saturday concerts for just $45.  Now, that’s a value.

We’ll probably stay close to home tomorrow morning, but in the afternoon we want to drive down to Bushnell to check out the Escapees park there.

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