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Silver Springs Zoological Park

In upper central Florida, near Ocala, is a fun and educational theme park – Silver Springs.

The park is just 90 minutes north of Orlando.

On a large tract of land, visitors can experience Florida as it was 10,000 years ago; a pristine, wild, swampy jungle.

Beginning as a zoological park shortly after the Civil War, Silver Springs was the first place to introduce the glass bottom boats.

These boats provide a thrilling look into underwater activity generally seen only by scuba divers.

In its early days, Silver Springs was visited by notaries such as Presidents Grant and Coolidge. Ross Allen, pioneer herpetologist, established the Reptile Institute at Silver Springs, ensuring Florida native species of snakes, alligators, crocodiles and turtles would not become extinct.

Reptile Institute & Glass Bottom Boats

Today, the Reptile Institute is one of the biggest attractions at Silver Springs Theme Park.

The updated glass bottom boats still ply the crystal clear waters where visitors peer down on numerous and colorful fish and turtle species, free roaming alligators, snakes and crustaceans.

These boats, powered by U.S. Coast Guard licensed captains, take visitors to seven major springs on this delightful voyage.

For a historical perspective, take the Fort King River Cruise.

This boat takes visitors up Big Gator Lagoon past a Seminole Indian Village, an ongoing archeological dig, a replica of the 1830’s Fort King Army base, an early settlers homestead and an 1880’s riverboat dock and train depot.

Plus a few big gators, no doubt, since more than three dozen of Florida’s biggest reptiles live here.

Some of these croc’s measure up to 13’ in length.

Keep your toes in the boat!

Other Animal Exhibits

Other animal exhibits include North American Black and Kodiak Browns.

Kodiak bears, native to Kodiak Island in Alaska, are the largest known grizzlies in the world.

At the Panther Prowl, visitors have the chance to see the Western Cougar.

This large cat is now on the endangered species list.

The Kritter Korral is a popular petting zoo.

Sheep, goats, donkeys, turkeys, and rabbits love the attention showered on them.

Feeding time is a fun time to visit, as children may be expected to get involved.

Off the water and away from the animals, there is a world of fun at Silver Springs.

Floral gardens, a wilderness trail, coordinated fountains display and rides make for a great day.

The Lighthouse Ride, at Silver River’s edge, takes spectators up eighty feet in gondolas providing a bird’s eye view of the jungle, water and activities below.

Shows

Kid’s Ahoy! Playground allows exploration of an 1880’s riverboat settled in a lagoon.

Other children’s adventures include a fireman’s pole, Ferris wheel, cargo net climb and more.

Wings of the Springs is an inspiring free flight show of parrots, raptors and more.

The Reptiles of the World Show is conducted by skilled handlers and educates an audience on our reptilian friends.

The alligator and crocodile feedings, which occur twice daily, are well attended spectacles.

The Non-Venomous Snake Show gives visitors a change to get up close and personal with the slithery set.

Many shopping and dining options are available for visitors, ranging from caps and tees to exotic gifts from the sea and ice cream to gourmet meals.

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Silver Springs Theme Park is host to concerts and special events, as well.

Big name artists of all genres perform at the Twin Oaks Mansion Concert Stage from early January to July. Check to see if your favorite is coming!

Silver Springs is a must see place.

Besides carnivals and concerts, there is the dedication to preserving the native frontier of Florida.

This wonderful place has been the site of many movies, including the Tarzan series, The Yearling, James Bond scenes and more.

Here, the jungle is still magnificently alive.

 

Silver Springs Review:
By Joy Atkinson
(Summer Intern)

Silver Springs is located on highway 40 off of Interstate 75.

This park is home to animals, natural springs, and Wild Water water park.

2 parks in one are the appeal of the park.

Enjoy natural Florida wildlife and the thrill of choosing to get wet!

Welcome to Silver Springs.

There are plenty of different ways to tour the park: two boat rides, a Jeep safari, and walking around the park.

These different tours offer additional adventure to the park.

These rides allow you to view additional wildlife.

There is a variety of wildlife in this park.

There are plenty of alligators to view and watch.

Some of them were pretty active, especially if you went during the feeding time.

Local Florida wildlife, such as: black bears panthers, birds, and deer.

They also had a large assortment of African wildlife, including giraffes, monkeys, llamas, zebras, speckled deer, long horned sheep, and sloths.

There was a petting zoo for the kids, shows held throughout the day, and plenty of opportunities to view certain wildlife up close.

Additionally, there was the glass bottom boat ride.

The only better way to view the springs was if you were scuba diving.

Not only was the glass bottom boat ride drier, but you did not have to expel as much energy and got to see the exact same thing.

Not to mention the fact that you can not rent scuba gear anywhere there.

The springs are caves on the bottom of the silver river floor that water flows up from.

These springs are deep and beautiful.

Many of them have limestone in them making them sparkle.

There are also huge fish that you see that you only wish you could catch and take home with you.

I saw several springs during my trip.

Many famous movies have been shot at this location.

First made popular with Creature from the Blue Lagoon.

Finally, there is a water park in association with Silver Springs called Wild Water.

This park is wonderful when you need to cool down.

I was not about to jump in the water at silver springs; alligators and humans are not encouraged to swim together!

This park offers tube rides, slides, tunnels, and a variety of other ways to get you wet.

It does not have as many people as the bigger attractions in Orlando making lines much shorter and allows more time to play.

Word to the wise; be aware of their rain policy.

Even if the weather is a downpour, your are there, enjoy the day.

Do not get frustrated if it rains.

In Florida rain happens.

Bring some suntan lotion, especially if you plan on going to the water park.

Bring your camera, there are many Kodak spots (they even tell you where they are) if you would like to document your trip.

Have fun.

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