Wild Waters

Wild Waters

Located in Silver Springs, Florida, Wild Waters was a small water park compared to modern standards. The park offered a more relaxed atmosphere compared to its larger competitors. 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. Due to its exotic surroundings, Silver Springs became a desirable filming location. Movies like Tarzan, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and scenes for several television shows were all filmed at Silver Springs.

Wild Waters
The 450,000 gallon wave pool would alternate between calm water and generating waves after a certain period of time. The waves would reach 4 feet tall in the deepest end of the pool.

Wild Waters was built in 1978 by ABC Television and was one of the first water parks in the South. There were shady picnic areas, a snack bar, a gift shop, and an open-air fast food counter. Wild Waters would 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.

Wild Waters
Osceola’s Revenge and Bunyan’s Bend were dual flumes that were a part of the Silver River Flumes area. Both flumes began at the same point, but did not run parallel and had different patterns.
Wild Waters
The Silver River Flumes were located in the center of Wild Waters under the canopy of large trees. The water park was one of the first in the nation to use fiberglass flumes.
Wild Waters
The Silver River Flumes ended at the same splash pool, now covered in a green algae.
Wild Waters
Wild Waters only dual speed flumes were called the Silver Bullet. They ran side by side and ended in a splash pool. Unlike newer speed flumes, these did not go straight down from the top.

Wild Waters

Wild Waters
Cool Kids Cove was a kids water ride area that included slides and tunnels.

Designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971, it was not until 1993 that thorough scientific studies of the springs were complete and wildlife rehabilitation had begun. The State of Florida purchased the property but allowed private companies to continue operating the attractions. 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, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Park Service took control of the parks. Once the state took over, downgrades in service and entertainment were imminent. In 2016, Wild Waters permanently closed. State officials cited financial reasons for the closing. The state wanted to return the property to a more natural environment, with less focus on man-made attractions. Construction crews began demolishing Wild Waters in December 2018.

Wild Waters

Wild Waters
Graffiti and broken glass litter the closed bath house and gift shop.
Wild Waters
The Hurricane, a large figure 8 double flume was the tallest ride in the park. Standing 80 feet tall, riders used tubes that were carried to the top.
Wild Waters
Alligator Ambush was constructed in 2008. The ride consisted of an enclosed water flume that exited into a slide funnel referred to as a toilet bowl, which exited through another small tube into an open chute.

Wild Waters

20 comments

    1. So sad I use to take my kids there in the summer. It was close to home and I wasn’t afraid to make the day trip alone with a load of kids. Orland is too far and much to crowded.

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  1. This really brings back a lot of fun memories for me, my family and I visited Silver Springs Water Park in the early ’70s, when I was about 8 yrs old. I’m 54 now, we also rode in one of the glass bottom boats the article mentioned!

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  2. Always founded abandoned theme parks so fascinating. All the stories and fun to imagine. Thanks for posting. Never heard of this one.

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    1. Well…Wild Waters wasn’t huge, like nearby Wet N’ Wild now Volcano Bay. So….it’s no surprise you might not have heard of her. I miss her terribly.

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  3. I had no idea they were closed, I was just telling my teenage daughter about hen I went there in 1983 and how they were building what I think was called the Hurricane water slide..The glass bottom boat ride I remembered with real animals unlike Disney…So many great memories there …

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  4. Thank You Yes brings back memories for Me to I worked at Silver Springs when I was around
    18 Years old on the Landscape Crew sorry to find out it closed I also worked at Six Gun Territory
    Which was also in that Area also closed

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  5. The RustyAnchorMountDora.com offers all day boat tour to Silver Springs from Mount Dora where you can see the real Florida all the way to the spring boil, it’s a great trip with flora and fauna abound. It’s a great way to see the old Florida waterways.

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  6. Many good times at water park . Grew up in Ocala we were so happy when park opened I started going in the 6th grade long time ago lol sad what it looks like in pics now

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  7. This place was a huge part of my teenage years and my kids’ childhood. Swimming at Wild Waters then concerts at Silver Springs made for some great summer days!

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  8. Leaves a lot of memories. Growing up in Gainesville in the 80’s, we used to go down to Wild Waters several times every year. I remember the park as having more of an anarchic atmosphere, where you could go down the rides with lots of kids at a time, or you could stop yourself halfway down until the next kid came barreling into you. So much more fun than the over-safe excessively lifeguarded water parks of today! Good times, thanks for the memories!

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  9. Lived in Ocala several years, just a few miles from Silver Springs, and I remember when Wild Waters was built. In an odd coincidence many years later, my wife’s cousin (from her family thousands of miles away) became its manager for a time. Went there several times, and to this day my wife and I will periodically joke about recorded voice warning that “Here come the Wild Waters waves!” in the wave pool.

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  10. Some of my fondest memories as a kid were going to Silver Springs for the weekend. We would hit the adventure park one day and the water park the next. My mom and aunt would find a place to hang out and me and my cousins would go nuts. Some truly great memories there.

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