Walt Disney River Country Water park.

Opened it’s gates: June 26th 1976

Closed for the season, never to open again: November 11th 2001

If you grew up watching Disney or are a fan of movies such as the Fox & the hound and Old Yeller, you know Disney was a fan of the wilderness, the good frontier, the ol’ Country life. Walt Disney was the pioneer who set ground on many interesting projects when it came to his ultimate work of art, Disney World. One of his ideas was a water park where families could cool off from Florida’s hot summer days and relax when they just didn’t feel like going and spending a long day at the main park. His plans were to use the lake water that surrounded the resort. The ground was set to be included in his Fort Wilderness Resort & campground and because of this Disney seized the opportunity to make his first Water Park resemble a Watering hole. It included four water slides, a tire swing, boom swing, rope climb, and T-bar drop.

In 2001 Disney had moved on with other water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Not only was River Country becoming more outdated, but attendance became a problem after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The last straw for the once fun-filled park, came from a law that was passed in Florida towards chlorination and water systems in public amusment parks. River Country closed for it’s seasonal off-time, it’s gates closed and nobody returned.

Interesting facts:

At one time the park’s original entrance was the host to Mickey’s backyard BBQ.

The deadly Naegleria Fowleri bacteria is said to be alive in the park’s water during the hot summer months. This could also have added to the reasoning of the park’s final season.

River Country still stands in it’s ruined state today. It has been untouched since it’s last operation and is now restricted property. Disney has not realeased any statement on plans for renewal or destruction. It rotts behind its gate and boarded fence and is guarded by disney security and Florida Police. If you are ever at one of the Disney world resorts, you can still see it across the lake.

For more information on the park or for more pictures:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disney’s_River_Country

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2344523

http://waltdatedworld.bravepages.com/id220.htm

// Disney’s River Country//

Location:  Orlando, Florida WDW Complex

Date of Opening:  June 20th, 1976

Date of Closing:  November 1st, 2001

River Country was the first water park to open at Walt Disney World, and was modeled after an old-fashioned swimming hole.  It only had several rides, but would be sold out days in advance during its prime.  

 

Most of the park used water from the nearby Bay Lake, which connects various resorts to the Magic Kingdom.  Because of this, the park could not run all year round, as the water was not heated, and not chemically treated.  There were even rumors of a deadly bacteria residing in the water.

Another factor that led to its closing was the construction of two more Disney water parks:  Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.  These parks were bigger, had more rides, and clean water.  For years, River Country floundered, until the decrease of tourism after 9/11 and a change in state regulations for water parks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZPsO3WBQgk&feature=related

This is a video showing how easy it is to get footage of the park. I’ve been back in that area of the resort.  The remains still sit in plain sight from Bay Lake, and from the beach of the Fort Wilderness campground.   They hold barbecues in an old River Country pavilion back there.  The ticket booth for the park is still in plain sight, admission prices and all.    

The area has not been touched since its closing and is falling into decay.  No plans have been made for the area.  

 For More Information:  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disney’s_River_Country

http://www.imagineeringdisney.com/blog/2009/12/19/abandoned-disney-river-country-part-1.html

A blog of abandoned places in the United States and beyond.