My first visit to Silver Springs near Ocala FL was in 1976 when I was about 16 years old. I remember a vibrant attraction with a long wait to venture out on the glass bottom boat. I remember with perfect clarity the perfect clarity of the water. Looking 30 feet below the glass bottom boat was more vivid and clear than if you were looking through air. Our boat captain mentioned the glass has a slight magnifying effect bringing the springs into better view.
My last visit was with my daughter when she was an early teen. Not two steps inside the park and she was handed a baby alligator to hold and pose for photos with. I was surprised that day to find an entire zoo I did not remember. Indeed it was new then. We spent the full day exploring. In fact I practically had to pry her away. I'm sure she remembers the crazed goose running after a small child who was pretending to throw food. Yeah - never do that. A goose does not have a sense of humor about such things.
On my visit this week..... it was a ghost town. The water park was closed which made it even more eerie. There was maybe 30 cars in the parking lot. I was not planning a long stop this time as I was passing through but as the zoo is now gone (along with all the people) there was not a lot to fill the day.
To be fair - this was a Monday, it was early, the water park just closed for the season, and we had a lot of personal attention. As we were heading out after our short visit, a lot more were heading in and we were told by the staff they were packed on the weekend. So this was a very lucky, offseason moment.
But even my point and shoot camera in the bright Florida sun could cut through the reflection enough to show fish seemingly floating in air in ten feet of crystal clear water. The zoo apparently was adding a bit of unnatural additions in its runoff and the State of Florida took over the park in 2015. They removed the zoo and several buildings. There is an additional entrance down the road a bit which is much more state park like and where you can rent canoes and kayaks. I remember the electric boats making the run that is now only seen in a more personal way.
My next visit will include much more time, a bathing suit, and a long paddle in this pristine (again) wonder of nature.
If you are interested in more photos of this now abbreviated adventure - [click here]