Silver Springs, the iconic elder of Central Florida's tourism landscape located in Ocala, will be transformed into the state’s newest state park.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Florida Cabinet approved the termination of the private lease with Palace Entertainment; the company who has ran the attraction since 2001. The state is planning to spend $4 million to makeover the park, which will include removing the exotic animals and its amusement rides.
The glass-bottom boat rides, Silver Spring's most famous attraction, and concert series will remain in the park. Silver Springs has been an iconic attraction in Florida since the 1878, when the first glass-bottom boat ride first began to traverse the park. Silver Springs demise as a theme park mirror the fate of another once popular tourist attraction, Weeki Wachee Springs. Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, the park was famous for its underwater "mermaid" attraction before it became a state park in 2008.
Mike Friscia, the vice-president of water-park operations at Silver Springs, told the Sentinel that turning over the park to the state was the best move. He told the Sentinel:
(Turning over Silver Springs) is in the best long-term interests of the park, it's guest, the local community and the state. Silver Springs is a wonderful place but simply did not fit into our core business, and it was time to move on in the most positive way possible.
Silver Springs was once one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state, but the growth of Orlando's theme parks put an end to Silver Springs heyday. The state brought the attraction but continued to lease the management of the park.
Rest in peace Silver Springs.