Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sanlando Springs

Sanlando Springs, located north of Orlando in Longwood FL, was one of Central Florida's favorite swimming holes for many years. It also featured a hotel, swimming pool and beautifully landscaped gardens and was major attraction between 1950 and 1970. Today Sanlando Springs is locked inside a gated community known as "The Springs", accessible only to residents who own homes inside the development.

According to a history posted on The Springs' website, a developer named Frank Hoosier dammed the spring to create the swimming areas in 1926. After the Great Depression the springs changed hands and Moses Overstreet developed it into a major "Tropical Park." A new owner, JE Robinson, added the diving platform and slide in 1950.

The brochure reads, " Ever swim in water that was a constant 72 degrees the year 'round? Delightfully cool in summer and deliciously warm in winter? Mother nature generously endowed Sanlando Springs wit this generous characteristic. You'll have to try it yourself to believe it." On the inside it continues; "What is your pleasure, Sir or Madam? (and Junior and Sis too!) Swimming? Picnicking? Boating? Perhaps just loafing? Maybe a quiet jungle cruise? Or maybe just lying on the warm, white sands and watching the pretty girls as they stroll by? We've got 'em all, including a superb restaurant, gift shop, snack bar, and cottages."


The Springs website ends the history with this statement: "To the disappointment of many but to the good fortune of those lucky enough to have lived or will live in The Springs Community, Sanlando Tropical Park was acquired and privatized by Mr. Earl Downs in 1970. Mr. Downs transformed The Park into what has become known as simply “The Springs”."



Photographs from the State Archives of Florida
Brochure from Orlando Remembered

43 comments:

  1. I always wondered about this spring. It looks too big in brochures to have been made private, but I guess not. It looks like a nice spot of old Florida!

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  2. I remember swimming there as a kid. I remember finally getting enough guts up to slide down that huge slide. I hope they have preserved this wonderful natural spring, and still allow the residents swimming access to a great swimming hole.

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  3. I so enjoyed your retrospective on Sanlando Springs. It was truly one of my favorite places to go with my family from the 1950's until it closed to the public. I have since moved to another state but still consider my trips to Sanlando Springs as a child one of my favorite memories

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  4. I wish I had the opportunity to visit it in its prime...

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  5. I grew up in the springs. It was a great place to live. It is still a beautiful place.

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  6. Our family visited SanLando Srings from the East Coast on a regular basis when I was a kid. I remember the slide, beautiful flowers, palms, and clear, very clean springs. We loved it then; wish it hadn't gone private. It's one of the springs that had shallow areas for little ones and deeper areas for the rest without a sharp drop off. Beautiful place!
    Rosie

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  7. I grew up in Cocoa (East coast), and went to Sanlando Springs on high school senior party in 1960. It was a great treat.

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    1. I also went to Sanlando Springs on the high school senior party from Cocoa High School in 1960 -- small world! It was a great place for the outing - beautiful water, giant slide.

      Michael Hale

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    2. Barbara DavenportMarch 18, 2012 at 8:45 PM

      I lived at Sanlando Springs in the 1950's. My father, Bob Davenport was employed by Mr. Robinson as a nurseryman/grounds manager. Beautiful springs and grounds. I learned to swim at the springs.

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  8. Patricia Simonds CookDecember 10, 2009 at 5:53 PM

    I was a life guard for two years at Sanlando Springs. The ultimate summer dream job for a college student. It was so beautiful. I would love to go back and just take it all in.

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  9. Patricia- I'd love to know more about what it was like working there!

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  10. The Springs development is home to a large population of florida Black Bears:
    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-bear-attack-orlando-20091211,0,2178827.story

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  11. Friends and I spent many happy teenage days swimming and sliding there in the 60s. Sad to see it private.

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  12. My family grew up going to the springs. My father, use to give diving exhibitions there in the 40's. My brother got us in the Springs about 5 years ago and it was very sad. We were the only ones there. I wanted to cry at the loss for Orlando families it was such a beautiful place with so many great memories.

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  13. I grew up in Forest City and we had a 'family membership" the Sanlando every year. It was, and is, a beautiful place. Living here now is just as wonderful as when as a "kid", and people use it, especially weekends. The community of 880 homes honors and treasures the Spring. As small as it is and as large as the area has grown, it would probably be closed to swimming if owned by the State. So, come on in, buy something...:) the water is perfect year around. Bill

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  14. Sanlando Springs was the place to go for young teenagers during the weekends and Summer months of the 1950's and 60's. A trip to Sanlando followed by a meal at Steak & Shake was "Heaven on Earth." Growing up in the Orlando area, I spent many happy times there. One of my fondest memories were the times Mr. Rumpf, our band director, would take our band, William R. Boone High School, to the Springs for our yearly retreat. I also remember the TV movie prop village where they filmed some of the "Gilligan's Island" show. The walkways around the springs were beautiful and the memories of walking old girlfriends around them are precious memories that are cherished today.
    Bob Ferrell Sr.

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    1. As an Orlando native and 1960 Boone graduate, I can attest to your description of Sanlando Springs. It was heaven on earth. Now tops on my bucket list is visiting all the springs in Florida if possible.

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    2. A noble quest. There are close to 1,000. Good luck!

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  15. Bob- I had not heard about "Gilligan" being filmed there- I'd love to know more about that....

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  16. We lived in Melbourne and I remember my parents taking me and my sisters to Sanlando Springs a couple of times a year for many many years in the early to late '60's. It was always a fun and relaxing place. I remember how cold the water was and how I use to snorkel there since the water was so clear. And the pool was pretty cool too. We always use to go see a big tree nearby afterwards. Don't remember where it was or what kind of tree it was. I would like to know what happened to that tree. Great memories as a kid growing up. So sad to hear it is closed to the public.

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    1. The big tree you refer to was most likely a huge cypress in Longwood. It was in a park there. I say "was" because it was set on fire by a "druggie" just last year while she was attempting to smoke her drugs.

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  18. Family owned property at Sanlando Springs. I lived there from 1957-1967. Property was sold to developers. Giligan's Island was not filmed there, but the Beachcomber tv series was during those years. What a great place to grow up and meet all kinds of people like the Webb brothers, Wilbur Houston, Danny Hawkins, Jim Headley, Linda Gayle Westbrook, Terry Deitz, Jennifer Schumack. One of the highlights was the night "Ring of Fire" dive into the spring "boil". There I learned to bounce on a trampoline and was part of blanket tosses! :-)

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  19. Sanlando Springs was where I learned to swim when I was 8 years old. I loved going there as a child! wonderful memories!

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  20. One of my fondest memories as a kid. We lived in Melbourne and my parents would take us there on week ends. What a treat to swim in the cold water, go down the slide, swim in the pool, dive of the diving board where the springs came up and get snacks from the snack bar. I was so disappointed to hear the it was closed to the public. I would have loved to visit it one more time or take my kids and grandkids there. I hope the residents realize what a lucky group of people they are to live in such a magical place. They can keep me from visiting in person, but they can't keep me from visiting in my memories. Ron Martin

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  21. When I was a child growing up in Casselbury, Florida back in the 1950's, my parents would always take us to Sanlando Springs. That is where I learned to swim & loved going down that big slide. I remember the beautiful, clear water and beautiful trees. We would always take relatives who were visiting from up north, & they were always so impressed by the beauty of the springs! I have so many wonderful memories of this special Florida spring. Linda Scharpff

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  22. A lot of Saturdays spent at Sanlando Springs, mom worked at the Chocolate Soldier bottling plant on 434 also and during the summer, she would drop us off there and pick us up when she got off work. The Trampoline's next door were fun also. For those that don't remember, chocolate soldier was a bottled chocolate drink. The Big Tree was a Sunday visit now and then, with a stop on 17-92 for a drink of spring water which flowed out of a pipe in the ground. They have capped the pipe.

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  23. I grew up in Winter Park in the 50's & 60's. I also learned to swim in the springs. Our family spent many enjoyable days there. I remember the trails which seemed to go on forever. I never jumped in the water along the trail (no swimming area) but sure wanted to. One day while walking on the trails friends & I found the old pool. It seemed to me that after The Beachcomber came & dug up & destroyed alot of those trails Sanlando was never the same.

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    1. Are you speaking of the old puka shell concrete spring fed pool that was way back in the swamp? Something that looked like the Creature from the Black Lagoon lived there?

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  24. Mother nature gave "all" that wonderful place and big money took it from us. Now we can't even look. Only the privileged. So sad. Jess Crawford

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  25. I lived in the Apple Valley subdivision as a kid in the 80's. We snuck into the springs daily via the Little Wekiva river where it goes under the 434 bridge. Great place to swim. Rope swings.. trees to jump out of.. Super fun!!

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  26. I remember swimming there when I was in my teens that was then 1977. I was wondering what that was because when we swim there it was just a tiled wall and then down into the spring. Everything else was overgrown and there was no evidence of any buildings walkways or anything else. It was completely overgrown. Very few even knew that it was back in the woods.

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  27. My parents took us here in the 50's a couple of times for vacation. Wonderful memory.

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  28. I grew up near sanlando, I remember the slide the diving board, catching snakes in the swamp. After it went private, I had a friend who lived there, we would dive to the bottom of the spring and spear fresh water eel. I miss those" pre-Disney days"

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  29. One of my best childhood friends lived in The Springs and I remember swimming there with her in the early '90s. It was beautiful even then, but I bet it was really something special back in its earlier days.

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  30. Spent my childhood vacations in the 50's at Sanlando Springs ...wonderful memories too bad it doesn't exist for everyone.

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  31. I received a souvenir from Sanlando Springs from my Great Great Aunt ~15yrs ago, and I'm curious if anyone familiar with the spring's history can tell me an approximate year of origin. It's a small covered wagon, possibly brass, and it has a medallion-style emblem on the side that has an image of a diver in the center and the words "Sanlando Springs Florida" around the edge of the emblem. She couldn't remember when she got it and I've always been curious! She was born sometime in the late 1890's if that helps?

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  32. I received a Sanlando Springs souvenir from my Great-Great Aunt back in early 2000, and I'm curious if anyone may know an approximate year of origin? It's a small, possibly brass, covered wagon with a medallion style emblem on the side. It looks like a diver in the center and words around the edge read, "Sanlando Springs Florida." She was born in the mid to late 1890's if that helps? She couldn't remember when she got it and I've always been curious about it!

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  33. There was a TV series ...short-lived...that filmed some the scenes at the spring. It starred Cameron Mitchell and I remember he wore a big straw hat and looked like a tropical beach bum. Can’t remember the name of the series. I think it was around 1959, 60 or 61. Anybody remember it? I went there with friends when I graduated from Titusville High in 1961. Wish I could see the way it looks now, but afraid I would be disappointed, because it was so beautiful back then.

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  34. I remember growing up during the summer of the 1960's, my brother and I took swimming lessons in Davenport, Fl and every Wednesday they cleaned the pool so
    we went on various field trips with Sanorlando Springs being my favorite.

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  35. Hey Rick
    There is a small sulfur pool off of Markham woods road my son took me to yesterday. It is a cement pool with springs bubbling up at the base & pink sand that spills into the wekiva right by the bike underpass at 434. Do you have any history in that? I googled Sanlando to see if this one was related but I haven’t found anything on this little gem.

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  36. Sanlando was a favorite place of mine back in the fifties. I'm a native of West Orange county now living long-term in Texas. I'm in my mid seventies now. I loved the big slide and I had great times there. it's wonderful to learn so many others did as well. Great to read all the old tributes to a once wonderful place. I just stumbled in to this site this afternoon. Cheers all

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