Glass bottom boats, in one form or another, have been operating at Silver Springs since 1924, possibly earlier – it’s a point argued over by historians. What is known for sure though is that none of them have ever been accessible to people using wheelchairs.
The boats in operation now were built in the 1960s and 70s before the accessibility and technology standards we enjoy today were in place. These boats are a beautiful unique design but are not wheelchair accessible and it isn’t feasible to retrofit them. People using mobility devices such as wheelchairs and scooters are excluded from the tours because the passenger must be able to step in and out of the boat. The only solution is to build a brand-new boat which is a worthy but costly undertaking.
In 2013, the state assumed operation of the Silver Springs attraction which was very run down. The expense to repair and revitalize park infrastructure combined with coping with hurricane damage done in 2018 (the roof of a just built educational pavilion was seriously damaged) prohibits the Park Service from undertaking the expense of a new accessible boat on its own.
The final costs of this important project will run between $450-$500,000. The Florida State Parks Foundation is investing along with the Felburn Foundation, Friends of Silver Springs State Park, the Florida Park Service, Lay, Pitman & Associates, and the Cape Leisure Corporation. These combined donations bring about three quarters of the total amount needed.
Please help fill the gap with your own donation. Grassroots support from individuals and small businesses can make or break a project.
No one should get left behind on the dock just because they can’t walk.
Please, make your donation here. And be sure to specify Glass Bottom Boat Project.