River Country – The Original Walt Disney World Water Park

River Country - Logo River Country - Ad

River Country was The Walt Disney World Resort’s first original themed water park, way before Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach ever made their entrance into the water park arena. It was opened on June 2o, 1976 on the banks of Bay Lake near The Fort Wilderness Camp Ground. It was themed as an old fashioned “swimmin hole” similar to what you’d read about in a Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer novel. Disney’s first water park contained a number of activities:

River Country - PhotoUpstream Plunge (a kidney shaped clean-water pool.)

River Country - Slipper Slide FallsSlippery Slide Falls (two water slides that emptied into Upstream Plunge.)

Kiddie Cove ( a kids zone with two large water slides and a cove targeted at preteens. This area was targeted toward preteens)

Barrel Bridge ( a bumpy bridge with barrels under it, similar to the one at Tom Sawyer Island.)

River Country - White Water RapidsWhite Water Rapids, (a 330 foot (100 m) long inner tube river.)

River Country - Bay CoveBay Cove (a half-acre (2,000 m²) sand-bottom lake which featured a

River Country - Tire Swingtire swing, boom swing, rope climb, and zip-line.)

River Country - Whoop 'n Holler HollowWhoop ‘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 primarily for guests under 8.)

Cypress Point Nature Trail (a trail among trees beside Bay Lake.)

Pony Rides

Mercury Water Mouse Rental

The swimming area had a sandy bottom and had a unique filtration system that used water from Bay Lake and filtered it for the various pools, slides and lazy river. The water park area was created by damning off a part of Bay Lake to create the swimmin hole. Even with its unique filtration system, there were always issues with water purification due to everything coming directly from Bay Lake.

In 1977, The Wonderful World of Disney even has an episode, The Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World which included a song, “River Country”.

 

In August of 1980, a young boy passed away from amoebic meningoencephalitis. Which is a free-living amoeba, that attacks the nervous system and brain..His parents said that he contracted the amoeba while swimming at Walt Disney World’s River Country although health officials stated that there was no reason to blame Disney World for the tragedy, because the amoeba can breed in almost any freshwater lake during hot weather. No other cases of amoebic meningoencephalitis were ever linked to Disney’s River Country. Despite the young man’s death, Walt Disney World’s River Country stayed remained open for another 21 years!

In 1989, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon opened as The Walt Disney World resort’s second water park. In 1995, The Walt Disney World Resort’s thrid water park, Blizzard Beach opened up. While both of these new water parks were much larger, had more parking, and were easier to get to, Disney’s River Country continued to stay open to limited success.

At the end of the 2001 water park season, Walt Disney’s River Country closed as usual with the expectation that it would reopen again in the Spring of 2002 for the new season. During that time, the United States experienced the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center Towers and the entire country suffered a severe decrease in tourism travel, which affected every resort in the country. During that off season, Walt Disney World spokesman Bill Warren announced that River Country could be reopened if “there’s enough guest demand.” Sadly, it never reopened.

Another major change which also led to Disney’s River Country demise was a change in the Florida state laws which prohibited un-chlorinated natural water bodies from being used for water park attractions. River Country never reopened and remains abandoned as a forgotten Disney relic as of today. The park remains where it was, over grown and unused to this day. While Disney employees monitor the area for trespassers one can search YouTube for a number of videos of guests who have managed to enter the abandoned park and show how it looks today.

River Country - Abandoned 5 River Country - Abandoned 4

River Country - Abandoned 2River Country - Abandoned 1River Country - Abandoned 3

 

Tina & Don Korta are the Owners of “Destinations with Character Travel Services. Through DWC they offer their clients concierge travel services and specialize in planning Magical Orlando area vacations along with Cruises to many places and all inclusive stays at Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts!

They are both lifelong Disney fans dating back to childhood visits to The Disneyland Resort in California & The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando when in it was only The Magic Kingdom Park! They have 7 children who were raised with a love of Disney and are now helping to bring the magic of Disney to their 2 grand children.

They spent their Honeymoon at The Walt Disney World Resort,have a large collection of Disneyana, and an extensive library of Disney DVD’sand books. In their free time they love movies, traveling and family fun time with their children and grandchildren.

Take advantage of their 40+ years of experience and knowledge that they would love to share with you in helping plan your next Magical Vacation.

Along with their partners at Vacation With The Magic Travel and Garavanian Travel they can assist you with any of your vacation and travel needs, anywhere in the world!

For Disney, they can even assist in resort & ticket research, booking, Fast Pass+, Dining Reservations, Special Event ticketing, and anything else you need help with for your Magical Vacation, and their services are ALWAYS FREE!

You can find them on:

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Internet: http://www.destinationswithcharacter.com

Or you can just email them at: destwithchar@comcast.net

 

 

 

Don Korta
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