By Mark McConville
EERIE images have revealed the abandoned remains of a water park near a National Natural Landmark where Hollywood classics such as Tarzan and Creature from the Black Lagoon were filmed.
The haunting pictures show the huge slides with leaves now running down them rather than water, the empty pools where nature has taken over and kids play areas.
Other striking shots show the turnstiles people would have once been going through, a lonely rubber ring floating on filthy water and brightly painted buildings.
The eerie photographs were taken at Wild Waters Water Park in Silver Springs, Florida, by an urban explorer known as Abandoned Southeast.
“Wild Waters water park was located in Silver Springs, Florida and it was a small park compared to modern standards, but offered a more relaxed atmosphere compared to its larger competitors,” he said.
“Wild Waters was the sister park of the Silver Springs Nature Theme Park, one of the nation’s first national attractions and home to the world famous Glass Bottom Boat tours.
“Silver Springs was a popular filming location due to its exotic surroundings. Tarzan, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and scenes for several television shows were shot at Silver Springs.”
Wild Waters was built in 1978 by ABC Television. The water park was one of the first in the South. There were shady picnic areas, a snack bar, gift shop, and an open-air fast food counter.
Wild Waters quickly became a favorite Florida tourist destination. The water park helped nearby Ocala to prosper from tourists for many years until Orlando became the primary Florida tourist destination due to Disney World and other major attractions.
In 1971, Silver Springs was designated a National Natural Landmark but it was not until 1993 that thorough scientific studies of the springs were done and wildlife rehabilitation had begun.
“The State of Florida purchased the property, but allowed private companies to continue operating the attractions,” added Abandoned Southeast.
“Palace Entertainment managed Wild Waters and Silver Springs Park since 2002. Former Governor Rick Scott allowed Palace Entertainment to end their contract in 2013, which was supposed to run until 2029.
“As a result, Wild Waters and Silver Springs Park were placed under the control of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Park Service. After the state took over, downgrades in service and entertainment were made.
“Wild Waters closed permanently in 2016. State officials cited financial reasons for closing the park, but the main reason was that the state wanted to return the property back to a more natural state, with less of a focus on man-made attractions. Construction crews began demolishing Wild Waters in December 2018.”
For more information see www.abandonedsoutheast.com