Disney's River Country
|Location||Walt Disney World Resort, Bay Lake, Florida, United States|
|Theme||Old-fashioned swimming hole|
|Owner||The Walt Disney Company|
|Operated by||Walt Disney Parks and Resorts|
|Opened||June 20, 1976|
|Closed||November 2, 2001|
Disney's River Country was the first water park at the Walt Disney World Resort. It opened on June 20, 1976 and ceased operations on November 2, 2001. On January 20, 2005, The Walt Disney Company announced that River Country would remain closed permanently. Along with Discovery Island, it is only one of two Disney parks in history to close permanently. Both parks were abandoned rather than demolished.
Positioned on the shore of Bay Lake, near Discovery Island in Bay Lake, Florida, River Country featured a rustic wilderness theming, complete with rocks and man-made boulders. It was described as an "old-fashioned swimming hole" with "a twist of Huckleberry Finn". The original working title was "Pop's Willow Grove".
The park featured a sandy bottom and unique water filtering system using confluent water from adjacent Bay Lake, which was dammed off creating a natural-looking man-made lagoon. It was much smaller than the resort's other two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, with the latter nearly four times the size of River Country.
River Country was featured in a musical number from the 1977 The Wonderful World of Disney episode "The Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World", which included a song titled "River Country" and featured the then-current Mouseketeer lineup from the late 70s incarnation of The Mickey Mouse Club enjoying the attractions at the park.
River Country was closed down on November 2nd, 2001, due to the fact that a local brain eating amoeba, "Naegleria Fowleri", was discovered in the water of Bay Lake. Rumors and stories have been spread around about the actual cause of the shutdown. As recently as 2010, electricity, water, and background area music continue to operate in the park.
List of attractions
- Upstream Plunge, a kidney shaped clean-water pool.
- Slippery Slide Falls, two water slides that emptied into Upstream Plunge.
- Kiddie Cove, a kids zone with two large water slides and a cove. This area was targeted toward preteens.
- Barrel Bridge, a bumpy bridge with barrels under it, similar to the one at Tom Sawyer Island.
- White Water Rapids, a 330 foot (100 m) long inner tube river.
- Bay Cove, a half-acre (2,000 m²) sand-bottom lake which featured a tire swing, boom swing, rope climb, and T-bar drop.
- Boom Swing
- Cable Ride
- Tire Swing
- Whoop 'n' Holler Hollow, two water slides, 260 ft (79 m) and 160 ft (49 m) long, that emptied into Bay Cove.
- Bay Bridge
- Indian Springs, a very small splash zone with fountains spraying kids. This area was mainly designed for guests under age 8.
- Cypress Point Nature Trail, a trail among trees beside Bay Lake.
- Pony Rides
- Mercury WaterMouse Rental
On November 2, 2001 Disney's River Country closed and similar to other Disney establishments did not reopen. Then on January 20, 2005, The Walt Disney Company announced that River Country would remain closed permanently.
- "Almost Forgotten". Teen Disney: For Kids By Kids. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
- Smith, Dave (September 2010). "Ask Dave". D23. Archived from the original on September 28, 2010. Retrieved September 28, 2010.
- "Abandoned Disney River Country". Abandoned Disney series. ImagineeringDisney.com. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "River Country Neglected". DisBoards.com. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "River Country". WDWhistory.com. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "A Tribute to Disney's River Country". BigFloridaCountry.com. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "Walt Disney World RIVER COUNTRY - ABANDONED !". Retrieved 3 April 2014.
- Weiss, Werner. "River Country News". Yesterland. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
- "River Country". WDWinfo. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
- Weiss, Werner. "River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?". Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- Grant, Matt (7 November 2012). "Disney fans "explore" off-limit areas of park". WFTX-TV Fox 4. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
- A photo essay in 2009 of the decaying River Country
- Disney's River Country on Modern Day Ruins
- A four-part series on the abandoned resort