Time to quit your day job. In a move that fulfills every fantasy you ever had as a child, the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is hiring full-time mermaids to perform in an underwater theater twice a day. This is the kind of opportunity that doesn't come around often, so naturally, you're probably composing your resignation letter in your head right now. But before you send it, there is a catch. (As always, pun intended.) Being a mermaid is a much tougher job than most landlubbers realize, and when you read about the rigorous audition process, you may find your hopes dashed to the bottom of the sea. If you're a strong swimmer, though, you may have just found your dream job.
On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in central Florida is officially looking for performers to add to their school of (lady) fish. The resort, which opened in 1947, is famous for its Mermaid Theater, a 400-seat underwater auditorium where audiences can watch "mermaids" frolic in the waters of the Weeki Wachee River. (The park also offers wildlife shows and a riverboat cruise, but you're obviously here for the mermaids.) Currently, the shows are "Fish Tails," a show in which the mermaids perform "underwater feats," and an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's beloved tale "The Little Mermaid." At the moment, 17 mermaids and three princes work at the park, but it is looking to expand.
While the Mermaids of Weeki Wachi may make everything look easy, the job is actually much more physically demanding than it seems. "It’s not easy what they do, and a lot of girls find that out (during the audition)," John Athanson, the park's public relations manager, told the Tampa Bay Times.
Reading the requirements for the audition, I'm inclined to agree. On the first round of auditions, which begin on Jan. 13, the mermaid hopefuls have to complete a timed 300-yard endurance swim. That sounds difficult enough, but that's not all — candidates also have to swim with and against the spring's current. If they pass that test, they are required to tread water for 10 to 15 minutes. After that, those who complete the first two tests will advance to an underwater audition with the theater manager. According to Cosmopolitan, the theater round is intended to assess how comfortable the candidate is doing flips and other ballet moves underwater. One move called the "Ferris Wheel" involves grabbing other mermaids' tails and swimming in a loop, which is amazing to watch but sounds absolutely terrifying to perform.
Finally, prospective mermaids who make it past the theater audition will have a face-to-face interview with employers.
By the way, the acrobatics aren't the only reason being a mermaid is so physically taxing. According to the Times, the spring's water is about 72 degrees, which is on the chilly side. See what I mean about the difficulties of donning the fish tail?
If you remain undeterred in your quest to become a human-fish hybrid, or as close as you can reasonably get without surgery, the first water audition is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Jan 13. (There's no word on the second and third rounds.) Pay is hourly, beginning at $10 an hour, and you must be over 18 years old and able to work four days a week. They expect at least 50 people to show up to the first audition — although that number may go up after all the media attention. According to the Weeki Wachee Instagram post, you can reserve a slot by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the reality of being a mermaid isn't up your alley, don't lose hope. You can always participate in the time-honored tradition of dressing up as Ariel for Halloween.