Silver Springs in Florida - Beautiful Attractions - Tarzan Movies and Jungle
Silver Springs in Florida
Silver Springs, Florida
In the north-central part of Florida are attractions worth seeing at Silver Springs which include the location of many of the original Tarzan movies and much, much more. You are cordially invited to join us during the one day we spent at this most lovely of Florida tourist attractions. The setting as you might imagine is lush and tropical.
The year was 1990 and my mother, niece and I had just spent five fun filled summer days at Walt Disney World.
What an experience!
Having previously enjoyed experiencing natural beauty on most of our vacations, I truly wondered whether seeing these man made marvels at Walt Disney World would be as pleasant an adventure. We were nicely surprised at the fun we had and we came away from that part of our vacation with feeling sensory overload as to all the various sights we had viewed and the variety of offerings in which we had participated.
We were now to visit a wonderful lady who resided in Crystal River, Florida and we became her house-guests for a three day visit.
Part of what our hostess had planned during our stay was to show us Silver Springs and we became forever grateful to her that she had introduced us to that most splendid of Florida tourist attractions.
George DeBenedicty with leading Sire Leroidesanimaux at Stonewall Farm in Ocala, FL.
Driving from Crystal River and approaching Ocala on our way to Silver Springs, we passed numerous horse farms. (Silver Springs is actually a part of the Ocala metropolitan area.) The beautifully painted white fences with various thoroughbred breeds of horses grazing and frolicking on the verdant pastures is a resplendent sight that will remain forever implanted in our memories.
Horse farming is a major industry in that part of Florida with approximately 1,200 horse farms in existence. As a matter of fact, Ocala is listed as the "horse capitol of the world."
Much more was to capture our attention on that fine June day and all of it had to do with Silver Springs.
Silver Springs, Florida
About five miles east of the City of Ocala lies the tropical splendor of Silver Springs.
It consists of a 350 acre theme park which for the most part showcases one of Florida's oldest and stunning natural attractions.
Nature created these crystal clear waters and this is one of the world's largest artisan spring formations.
There are seven major springs at the headwaters of the Silver River which pump out 73,500,000 cubic feet of fresh water ( 2,080,000 cubic meters ) on a daily basis.
To put it in perspective, this amount of water would be enough to supply a large city like New York for all of its daily water consumption uses.
This spring water is filtered through native limestone and is 99.8% pure...all 550 million gallons of it.
A constant temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit ( or 23 degrees Celsius ) adds to the tropical nature and enjoyment of this special place for people and animals alike.
It is no wonder that this has been the chosen location for so many filmmakers as well as television producers over the years.
Supposedly over 200 movies and television shows have been produced utilizing this setting to good advantage.
In addition to the original "Tarzan" movies, we were told that "Creature from the Black Lagoon", "Thunderball" and "Moonraker" were also made here plus many others with which many people would be familiar.
A lush natural water environment with tall cypress trees and other luxuriant foliage help create a jungle-like setting. There are also beautifully landscaped grounds with cultivated botanical gardens on site which some people choose to utilize for wedding photos and similar purposes.
This setting at Silver Springs encapsulates it all!
Movie Legends - Johnny Weismuller as Tarzan
Glass bottomed boat rides
Will show the different springs and other sights as if you were on the glass bottomed boat tour...
Glass bottomed boats
The glass bottomed boats began operating here in Silver Springs back in the late 1870's.
Innovative entrepreneurs realized that this crystal clear water provided a chance for them to introduce the sights beneath the water's surface to individuals who might never have been inclined to don a scuba suit and see similar things for themselves via that method of exploration.
Boats were constructed with clear glass bottoms and people are seated around the interior sides of the boat while still under cover protecting them from the sun as well as inclement weather.
This arrangement enables tourists to be able to look straight down the center of the boat to the bottom of the river and view the aquatic plants, fish, turtles and everything else that exists in the water moving beneath them.
An amazing sight awaits those who are able to peer through those translucent waters and visualize the openings in the river floor where the spring water emanates from deep within the earth bubbling to the surface.
The depth of the river bottom varies, but the water remains sparkling clear no matter how deep is the riverbed beneath one.
Our hostess and the three of us enjoyed this glass bottomed boat ride and everything that we were able to view while on the watercraft.
The captains of each vessel are all Coast Guard certified and offer a running commentary on statistics of what we are getting to view. Also pointed out are impromptu sightings of birds, alligators in the wild or animals seen on the shore as the boats move through their paces.
Not being scuba divers, never before have we gotten to see such shimmering colors of fish or the effects of glancing rays of sunlight slicing through the crystalline waters with such great effect.
At times we saw clusters of an aquatic plant called water lettuce as shown here to the right. Yellow hued in color, it drifts and floats freely through the water deriving sustenance through a four to six foot root system.
Petting zoo at Silver Springs
Silver Springs also sports a large petting zoo which keeps children and adults equally entertained.
Stacks of rye crisp crackers can be purchased at dispensers positioned in this part of the Silver Springs park and it is allowed to hand feed the animals.
Some of the animals one will encounter include the following:
- Giraffes and other animals as well.
We all took turns feeding the animals.
A black insistent goat keep bleating and begging my mother for special attention...so naturally he got the majority of her crackers.
It is fun watching the interaction of children and adults with the animals in this part of the park.
Sea Hunt Episodes shot here
Part of a Sea Hunt Episode
Do you remember the television series Sea Hunt starring Lloyd Bridges? We were surprised to learn that the series was shot on location in Silver Springs.
The following was posted on a sign near the building pictured here to the right...
"FLORIDA'S SILVER SPRINGS
Sea Hunt Episodes
Not all of the films shot at Silver Springs were for entertainment. Many scientific films have been produced and training films for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps were made at Silver Springs to prepare young men to survive in jungle warfare during World War II.
In more recent years television production crews have been beating a path to Silver Springs. Producer Ivan Tors and his company have made many trips to the Springs to film the popular television series, "Sea Hunt", starring Lloyd Bridges. The underwater portions of more than 200 episodes of "Sea Hunt" were filmed right here at Silver Springs. The area in which you are standing now was used as Lloyd Bridges headquarters while filming here.
Even though most of the episodes dealt with the sea, many of the underwater portions were shot right here in the main spring and in the river without interfering with our Glass Bottom Boats passing overhead.
This series ran for many years here in the United States and is still running in many other countries throughout the world."
Some wild critters at Silver Springs
One can enjoy seeing other wildlife at Silver Springs in addition to the tamed varieties seen in the petting zoo.
At the Big Gator Lagoon in the middle of a one acre cypress swamp are dozens of wild alligators.
Fortunately for the viewing public elevated boardwalks with railings have been built where one can look down and see these formidable looking creatures in a natural habitat.
Feedings of the alligators take place daily at 2:30 PM and if one wishes to see a frenzy of swishing tails and hungry creatures devouring their food, set your watches to be there at the appointed time.
We choose to skip this "attraction."
Endangered Florida panthers can also be found on site at Silver Springs. One was even being walked on a leash the day we were there as the photo shows.
Now...according to the literature there is a two acre site where one can view black and Kodiak bears in a natural setting. Either this is a new feature, or we missed seeing it the day we were there.
The animals that we most enjoyed seeing were those on our Jungle Cruise. This cruise takes one past islands where there are free roaming monkeys, giraffes, zebras, llamas, and wild birds of all descriptions.
Also seen on the banks of rivers or on logs or even swimming in the translucent waters are turtles.
Adorned with Spanish moss the trees blend in with the other lush vegetation forming a rich tropical atmosphere of sights and sounds.
One can almost imagine Tarzan swinging through these trees!
Looking at the pictures taken that day and displayed below...hopefully readers will understand why this portion of the park as seen from aboard ship on the Jungle Cruise was this author's favorite part of Silver Springs park.
The scenery is simply spectacular!
Photos taken on the Jungle Cruise...Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Jeep Safari Jungle Safari drive is also available where one can view animals living and roaming in natural looking habitats created at Silver Springs.
Special concerts and special events are held at Silver Springs throughout the year.
The park is open daily from February 7 - August 17 from 10 AM to 5 PM.
August 22 - December 11, the park is only open on Friday - Sunday.
From December 12 - December 28 it is once again open daily except closed Christmas Day.
One ticket admission price admits one to all the attractions within the park. Practically everything is operated on a 30 minute schedule so it is possible to take in most of the sights in one day.
Food can be purchased on site as well as souvenirs.
Apparently there is now a ride that takes one high up overhead so as to be able to view the entire Silver Springs park from above.
If you ever plan a visit to Florida and wish to see the attractions which drew the creators of Tarzan and other movie and television makers to this lush Silver Springs area, you now know some of the reasons why they were attracted. You might also by now realize just how very much we enjoyed our one day visit to this stunningly beautiful spot. A hearty "thumbs up" to this Florida tourist attraction!
What do you think of Silver Springs park in Florida?
Some of the wildlife and scenery viewed at Silver Springs
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© 2009 Peggy Woods