Silver Springs Ocala Park Info & Attractions
No matter what your age, there are plenty of rides and attractions at Silver Springs that will make you laugh, fill you with wonder, and provide a glimpse into what life was like here more than 10,000 years ago. Just as they did then, the springs pump out 550 million gallons of sparkling-clear water a day—enough to supply the entire city of New York.
Surrounding the Springs is a marvelous diversity of animals and nature you simply won’t find anywhere else. Come and explore the stunning beauty of Florida in its natural state.
Hisory of Silver Springs:
Throughout history, Silver Springs has been a timeless oasis and a place of unparalleled beauty, offering respite to early settlers who drew sustenance from its 99.8 percent pure artesian spring waters.
In the early 1500s, Timucuan Indians settled in the area around Silver Springs which they referred to as Ocali, a sub province of Timucua. In 1539, the area was invaded by Spaniards, led by Hernando de Soto, looking to exploit wealth. After many battles, the Ocali Indians were able to retain their claimed territory.
In time, the Timucuans were succeeded by other Indian tribes including the Seminole Indians. When the U.S. Government attempted to move the Seminoles from Florida to reservations in the western U.S. in 1835, Chief Osceola and the Seminoles retreated to the southern swamps. His slashing of the treaty the U.S. Government representatives presented to him is the famous gesture that gained him the respect of the Seminole Indians, and many joined Osceola’s forces in future battles. Today, all of the Glass Bottom Boats are named in honor of those Indian leaders who fought in Florida.
In the 1850s, commerce was introduced to the Silver Springs area as barges carried cotton, lumber, and nonperishables up the Silver River to the area’s growing population. Hubbard H. Hart founded the Hart Line, a stagecoach connection between Palatka, Silver Springs, Ocala and Tampa. In 1860, Hart hired James Burt, who brought conventional steamboats to Silver Springs. From that point on, tourists flocked to see the crystal-clear waters that had attracted attention for centuries.
Silver Springs’ popularity flourished after Hullam Jones invented the glass bottom boat there in 1878. By installing a glass viewing box on the flat bottom of a dugout canoe, he created a window to an underwater world teeming with fish, turtles, crustaceans and fossils more than 10,000 years old.
|Alligator & Crocodile Feeding
Alligator and Crocodile Feedings are presented daily at 2:30 p.m. (during warm summer months). Reptile keepers conduct the feedings that provide guests with the chance to witness the feeding habits of various species while learning more about these ancient creatures.
|Big Gator Lagoon
Big Gator Lagoon is a one-acre cypress swamp habitat featuring more than three dozen of Florida’s largest alligators, most 11 to 13 feet in length! Guests observe these large reptiles from the safety of an elevated boardwalk.
Silver Springs’ beautiful botanical gardens feature more than 138 varieties of native and exotic plants showcased in floral sculptures and flower beds along the banks of the Silver River.
A popular location for weddings, the gardens have a winding pathway that allows park guests to view all aspects of the landscape. It’s a pleasure to take a leisurely stroll amid the ever-changing colors, and a photographer’s paradise.
|Fort King River Cruise
Fort King River Cruise carries you through Silver Springs’ 10,000 year history. Interactive exhibits and displays include a working archaeological dig site, Seminole Indian village, the 1830s Fort King Army stockade, a late 1880s riverboat dock and train depot, and an authentic Florida pioneer “Cracker” homestead.
|Glass Bottom Boats
Glass Bottom Boats offer passengers an unparalleled view of underwater life in the 99.8% pure waters of the Silver River. Our boats, with U.S. Coast Guard licensed captains, will take you on an enchanting tour of the seven major spring formations at the headwaters.
Peer through the glass and crystal clear water for views that only a scuba diver could have. You’ll be comfortably seated, and covered from the sun and weather.
Carries passengers deep into one of Florida's primeval forests aboard zebra-striped jeeps and trams. One of the ride's highlights includes a trip through a pond containing live alligators.
|Lost River Voyage
Lost River Voyage transports guests back in time to wild Florida as it was thousands of years ago—untouched and untamed. Riverbanks are lined with towering bald cypress trees, some more than 500 years old. See alligators, turtles, heron, osprey, and other wildlife basking and feeding in their natural habitat.
|Kids Ahoy! Playland
Kids Ahoy! Playland features a replica of an 1800s riverboat permanently anchored in a shallow lagoon. Other activities include a 40-passenger carousel decorated with endangered wildlife, miniature motorboats, Ferris wheel, cargo climb with net bridge, slides, crawl tubes, fireman’s poles, and more.
Kritter Korral features a variety of farm animals like sheep, rabbits, donkeys, turkeys, and goats that park guests can pet and hand feed. They’re popular with the younger set and love the attention they get!
New! Look into the Eyes of a Mysterious White Alligator! See not one, but two of the rarest reptiles in the world. Known as the "Swamp Ghost", these eerie and fascinating creatures are natural phenomenons that have to be seen to be believed!
Void of color pigment and protected from the sun, these natural marvels are ready to show you how wild nature can be. Legend has it, that those who gaze into the pink eyes of the White Alligator will be blessed with good luck for the coming year and prosperity will surely follow. Beyond the myth and mystery that surround these creatures, is the fascination of seeing one first hand!
|Non Venomous Snake Show
“Non-Venomous Snake Show” offers guests the opportunity to view, touch and learn about the many different species of snakes in the world, and the important role they play in controlling rodents and other pests.
Panther Prowl is an extraordinary opportunity to photograph the Western cougar, a close cousin of the rare and endangered Florida panther—North America’s largest and most majestic wild cat.
|Reptiles of the World
“Reptiles of the World Show” features reptile handlers that give an exciting and educational presentation on alligators, crocodiles, turtles and dispell some of the myths about these fascinating cold-blooded animals.
|Ross Allen Island
Ross Allen Island features a collection of native snakes, turtles, arachnids (spiders), otters and other animals found in Florida. The exhibit also showcases archive photographs and information on the world famous naturalist Ross Allen. For nearly fifty years, Ross Allen owned and operated the Ross Allen Reptile Institute at Silver Springs which contained an extensive collection of snakes, crocodilians, and animals from around the world.
|The Lighthouse Ride
The Lighthouse Ride stands near the headwaters of the Silver River and features the combination of a carousel and gondola ride with a unique telescoping outer tower that quietly rises 80 feet above Silver Springs. Up to six passengers ride in each gondola for an unobstructed, panoramic view of the crystal clear river, landscaped grounds, and native Florida wildlife.
|Wings of the Springs
"Wings of the Springs” is presented at the outdoor Silver River Showcase Theater. This is a dramatic free flight show featuring a diverse collection of birds. We showcase parrots of the tropical rainforest, comical ducks and chickens, and the magnificent raptors (including hawks, eagles, owls, falcons and vultures). This show is sure to broaden the horizons with our newly added out of the ordinary surprise ending.
|World of Bears
World of Bears is the largest Bear exhibit of its kind in the world. Two acres of outdoor habitats showcase a variety of rare and endangered Bear species including North American Black Bears, and Kodiaks (the only Brown Bears on exhibit in Florida).