The Cruelest Sea Of All
Crystal River, Florida

Coming soon on Ohio66:
“Starring George Maharis” - by Rick Dailey

Ohio66 presents an in-depth look at the circumstances surrounding the departure of George Maharis from route 66 in the middle of the third season.

preview Starring George Maharis

Photos and commentary by Dave Morrison


Ohio66 would especially like to thank Mermaids Bonnie Georgiadis, Vera Benson Huckaby and Genie Young for sharing their photos and memories of the days when the Route 66 crew visited Weeki Wachee. Be sure to visit the mermaids page to see several behind-the-scenes photos from their collections.

Weeki Wachee Mermaids


Citrus Ave. 1963
Citrus Ave. 1963


Citrus Ave. 2010
Citrus Ave. 2010

This is N. Citrus Ave...

...in Crystal River where Tod and Elissa go shopping. Many of the buildings seen in 1963 are still there today. We are looking South.

Citrus Ave. 1963
Citrus Ave. 1963


Citrus Ave. 2010
Citrus Ave. 2010

Tod exits the Corvette.

The stone building seen in the background was the City Hall back then and now houses the Coastal Heritage Museum.

Diner Exterior - 1963
Diner Exterior - 1963


Elissa enters a restaurant.

This place was called the Wander Inn (name seen on menu during scene) and is no longer in existence. The building burned down four years after the scenes were filmed. Here's a link to the story and photo of the fire:

In Crystal River - Fire Destroys Landmark (scroll up to see the photo)

There were actually two Wander Inns in Crystal River, Florida, and it created tons of confusion trying to figure out which one was used in the show.

Street 1963
Street 1963


Street 2010
Street 2010

This scene is where Tod and Elissa go shopping in an old General Store. That store is long gone and there is a vacant lot remaining. I photographed the stores across the street (seen through the front windows behind Tod) and you can see the original buildings are still there albeit with some slight changes to the windows and doors.

Pt. Paradise Lounge - 1963
Pt. Paradise Lounge - 1963


Pt. Paradise Lounge - 2010
Pt. Paradise Lounge - 2010

PORT PARADISE (Now called the "Port Hotel and Marina")

Tod and Linc enter the lounge of the Port Paradise Resort. The lounge is now a fairly ugly laundry room filled with large, industrial-sized washing machines. No trace of the wall paintings were visible.

Pt. Paradise Roof - 1963
Pt. Paradise Roof - 1963


Pt. Paradise Roof - 2010
Pt. Paradise Roof - 2010

Tod and Linc pull into the Port Paradise parking lot.

The unique awning/roof is still there as is most of the original office. This facility was built in the early '50s by Sam Pickard, one of the co-founders of CBS. That might explain how they decided to film the episode there but I'm not sure if Pickard still owned the hotel in 1963.

Elvis Presley and his entourage stayed at the Paradise when he was filming "Follow That Dream" in the area in 1961.

Weeki Wachee Control Room - 1963
Weeki Wachee Control Room - 1963


Weeki Wachee Control Room - 2010
Weeki Wachee Control Room - 2010

This is the small, underwater room where the show's music, narration and special effects are controlled. In the shot from the show, you see Tod along with actress Paula Stewart who played Anne Bradley.

Through the glass, we see actress Diane Baker who did some of her own underwater work. She's about 6 feet underwater here.

Weeki Wachee Ramp - 1963
Weeki Wachee Ramp - 1963


Weeki Wachee Ramp - 2010
Weeki Wachee Ramp - 2010

I'm not sure who this actor is, but he's walking down the ramp toward the underwater theater.

The new photo shows that the walkway entrance has been redesigned moving the entrance doors out into the hallway.

Weeki Wachee Spring - 1963
Weeki Wachee Spring - 1963


Weeki Wachee Spring - 2010
Weeki Wachee Spring - 2010

This is the view of the spring from the north side. The underwater theater is visible on the right with the sloping roof.

The shingle roof was added a few years ago on top of the original tubular-shaped roof.

Some additional ground was added on the left side protruding into the spring area. (I took swimming lessons from the Red Cross on that shoreline back in 1965!)

Weeki Wachee Statue - 1963
Weeki Wachee Statue - 1963


Weeki Wachee Statue - 2010
Weeki Wachee Statue - 2010

This is the view of the spring looking West. The mermaid statue that was featured in the episode has been moved but was probably relocated when this spot became part of the Buccaneer Bay water park.

Weeki Wachee Theater - 1963
Weeki Wachee Theater - 1963


Weeki Wachee Theater - 2010
Weeki Wachee Theater - 2010

This is the view of the underwater theater. The plastic chairs have been replaced by benches.

This theater is actually the second one built at Weeki Wachee. The original was built in the late '40s by Newton Perry.

When ABC bought Weeki Wachee in 1958, they began consruction on the present theater increasing its original 1947 size seating 16 tourists to the present day capacity of 400.

Weeki Wachee Tube Room - 1963
Weeki Wachee Tube Room - 1963


Weeki Wachee TubeRoom - 2010
Weeki Wachee TubeRoom - 2010

Tube Room

This is the room where Elissa first emerges from the water.

The tuberoom is where the mermaids enter the underwater theater. As you can see from the old photo, a door has been added to the curved wall and it leads to the control booth. Also, the room doesn't look quite so dark and dingy as it did back then. The tube structure can be seen in the 1958 construction photo.

Tube Room Filming - 1963
Tube Room Filming - 1963


Tube Room Filming - 2010
Tube Room Filming - 2010

Milner and Baker in the "tube room" where "Elissa" first emerges from the spring. This appears to be a rehearsal scene as they are still wearing bathrobes.

At left is probably James Goss, camera operator for this episode. Man at bottom of frame might be Paul Franz, Sound Mixer.

One very odd thing about this shot is the fact that the Mitchell 35mm camera they were using for the show is seen here without the usual sound-deadening "blimp". The blimps are usually used in scenes where there is dialogue. If you listen carefully, you can hear the clatter of the camera during the shot where they have their first kiss.

Weeki Wachee Underwater - 1963
Weeki Wachee Underwater - 1963


Weeki Wachee Underwater - 2010
Weeki Wachee Underwater - 2010

Ohio66 would especially like to thank Mermaids Bonnie Georgiadis, Vera Benson Huckaby and Genie Young for sharing their photos and memories of the days when the Route 66 crew visited Weeki Wachee. Be sure to visit the mermaids page to see several behind-the-scenes photos from their collections.

Weeki Wachee Mermaids


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