Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Things I Miss: River Country | A Disney Mom's Thoughts

There are so many things from the past 45 years at Walt Disney World that have come and gone. Many we miss. Others we are glad they are gone. With this new series, I'm going to share some of my favorite things I miss from Walt Disney World.

The top thing I miss is River Country. This water park at Walt Disney World opened in 1976 as a part of Fort Wilderness Campground. I was lucky enough to visit this park one time in 1998, I think. This "water hole" was exactly that, a good ol' fashioned swimming hole that used water from Bay Lake in many of the rides and pools. You could find Slippery Slide Falls, White Water Rapids and Whoop 'N' Holler Hollow. You could enjoy water slides, swings, a beach, a lazy river, and more. 

In 2001, this water park closed. There are several rumors still circulating as to why it closed. Some are because of the death of a child in the 80s, the building of Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, the 9/11 attacks, and a Florida law about prohibiting un-chlorinated natural water from being used in water park attractions. 

I still hang on to the memories I had from my one day at River Country. At that time, I didn't take my camera to a water park for fear of losing it or it getting damaged, so I have no personal photos. I only have the page above from a book purchased many years ago at the Magic Kingdom. There are also a few vintage photos in this Disney Parks Blog post.
River Country today via Google Maps satellite
In 2015 however, I had a day to myself and I visited Fort Wilderness.  While I was wandering around I found a fence near the area I thought to be River Country. I couldn't see over or through the fence, but I kept walking.  I finally found the gate and was able to take these photos through the opening in the gate. It was shocking! I would love to walk around this abandoned park one last time, but understand why we can't.


Here are some additional photos taken from a rented Disney boat on Bay Lake and taken by a drone with a go-pro.  

I'd still like to know why Disney is letting this park deteriorate rather than "tear it down." Ideas?

1 comment:

  1. I visited River Country as a kid in the 80's. so fun! I think the reason it closed has more to do with not using chlorinating water AND the popularity of the two "newer" water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach). also-i liked your quest to keep alive the memory of something for which you have no pictures. had a similar situation at the Disney Studios. Thanks! Shana from Technotini.com

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