Its famous glass-bottom boat rides, which started there in 1878, and the popular concert series will remain, but several exhibits and structures will be dismantled to convert the attraction into a more natural park. The park will remain open during the transition.
Silver Springs follows the fate of Weeki Wachee Springs, a historic attraction famous for its underwater "mermaid" show that was privately run before becoming a state park in 2008.
Turning over Silver Springs to the state "is in the best long-term interests of the park, its guests, the local community and the state," said Mike Friscia, vice president of water-park operations.
"Silver Springs is a wonderful place but simply did not fit into our core business, and it was time to move on in the most positive way possible," he said.
Steamboats in the 1860s brought tourists to the springs, which became famous for crystal-clear waters. It was a popular destination for families driving down to Florida in the era before the interstate highways were built, and it was a filming site for several television shows and movies, including some of the original Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller.
However, attendance dropped with the advent of the interstate system and the Orlando-area theme parks. In 1993, Florida officials bought Silver Springs but continued a lease management of the attraction.
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